Two-thirds of Australians are concerned at how the looming Federal Budget might affect them, with increased spending on hospitals, the aged pension and schools topping consumers’ priorities. Among those with children aged under five years, 75% are concerned at childcare fees.
The findings are part of CHOICE’s latest nationally representative Consumer Pulse report, which also finds strong support for proposals that prioritise fairness and share the burden of tax reform.
“This is clearly an anxious time for Australian households, with last year’s Federal Budget casting a long shadow into 2015,” says CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland.
“Australians also understand the Federal Budget faces a revenue challenge, and the strong sentiment is that large businesses, including mining companies and banks, have a role to play,” Mr Kirkland says.
“There is majority support for limiting aged pension eligibility and superannuation tax benefits for the wealthy, while a sizeable minority of 45% want to wind-back the tax benefits of negative gearing.
“Against this, moves to increase the rate of the GST are opposed by 60% of Australians, while an even greater number oppose broadening the base to healthcare, education and fresh food.”
CHOICE says the results of its latest Consumer Pulse report show consumers are receptive to a comprehensive discussion about tax reform, looking across business, industry and individual tax arrangements, rather than a debate narrowly focused on the GST.
“None of this should rule out a wide-ranging debate about Australia’s tax system and the Federal Budget’s revenue base,” Mr Kirkland says.
“But the clear message is that consumers are open to an informed debate about measures that are comprehensive and fair, not narrowly targeting household consumption.”
Key findings from the latest CHOICE Consumer Pulse report include:
- Clear support for measured economic reform, with 45% of households agreeing that long-term pressure on the Federal Budget requires action over the coming 5-10 years.
- This compares with 22% believing we face an immediate ‘budget emergency’, and 17% wanting no action beyond business-as-usual.
- Strongest support for increased spending is on hospitals (62%), the aged pension (47%) followed by schools (42%), pharmaceuticals (37%), Medicare benefits for GP visits (35%) and roads (35%).
- Electricity remains the top household cost-of-living concern for the fourth consecutive quarter, now at 78%, followed by food and groceries (75%) and fuel (69%) and health/medical including private health insurance (69%).
- Concern over fuel has fallen significantly over the last nine months, from 81% in June 2014 to 69% now.
- 75% of those with children aged under five years are concerned about childcare fees, with 73% of students concerned about university fees.
- 30% say they are finding it difficult to get by on their present income, compared to 27% who say they are living comfortably.
- One-in-five Australians (21%) say they lived off a credit card to cover the gap until payday.