Budget 2020

Graeme Kelly OAM USU General Secretary

Graeme Kelly OAM
General Secretary
United Services Union

Last night the Morrison Federal Government handed down the 2020 Federal Budget. So what does it all mean for you?

Our Federal Branch of your union had experts locked away in the Government’s budget lockup so that we can bring you insight and analysis about what the budget means for USU members.

This Budget was an opportunity for the Government to take immediate action to rebuild our economy and give real support to working people – the hidden heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was a chance to deliver secure jobs, decent wages, and ample opportunities for all workers – and put people at the centre of our post-COVID economic recovery.

This budget has delivered for some USU members, but too many have been left out.

Let’s take a look at some key announcements:

Local Government – NO INCREASE

Local government workers provide services that are the lifeblood of our communities. They have carried Australia through droughts, flood, catastrophic bushfires and now the pandemic, despite mass stand downs and no JobKeeper support. We need an increase to Federal Assistance Grants so that local government workers can continue their essential work and support our communities.

There is no increase to Federal Assistant Grants that would support Local Government workers in this budget.

Superannuation – NOT ENOUGH

We know that older women in Australia are the fastest growing group experiencing homelessness today and that women are retiring with almost half the retirement savings of men.

More than 600,000 people completely drained their super accounts to get themselves through the pandemic crisis. This budget was the opportunity for the Federal Government to stamp their support for superannuation and the right for all workers to be able to save for a decent and dignified retirement, by removing the $450 minimum earning threshold that locks over 1 million Australians out of earning super. It was also an opportunity to commit to the promised increase of the super guarantee to 12% to enable workers to rebuild their retirement savings.

There is nothing in this budget for superannuation. There are only cuts to superannuation which hurt working people and make it harder to retire with dignity.

Save Equal Pay – MEMBERS WIN!

The Federal Government announced that they would lift base funding in Department of Social Services Grants to cover the costs for Equal Pay wages won in 2012. This means we’ve won our campaign to save frontline jobs. We’ve won our campaign to stop pay cuts. We’ve won our campaign for recognition of essential work in social and community services.

Members across Australia campaigned, and the Government has listened.

There’s still work to do. As always, we know the devil is in the detail. We still need to confirm that this decision applies across all Federal Government departments, not just Social Services. We don’t want any job left out or any service missed. But this is a very good first step and victory for our fellow Social & Community Services members.

AviationKeeper – NO LONG TERM PLAN

Our aviation sector has been one of the hardest hit in the COVID-19 pandemic with thousands of jobs lost, tens of thousands of workers stood down and some even locked out of JobKeeper support due to dodgy government loopholes. This is why we have been calling for an AviationKeeper package of support for all aviation workers – so that when Australia is ready to fly again, our workers are too.

Past January 2021, there is nothing in this budget for aviation workers to Keep Australia Flying.

Energy and Climate – NO REAL ACTION

We know that we don’t have a choice any more: Australia must act on climate change. As we make the inevitable transition to a low pollution economy, the government must ensure that any action on climate protects existing jobs, attracts investment in clean energy and production, supports emission-intensive and trade-exposed industries, and provides assistance to households.

There is nothing in this budget for a Just Transition for energy workers and there is nothing in this budget that means real action on climate change.


The COVID-19 pandemic has hit young people particularly hard. Youth unemployment is out of control and jobs are in short supply. Job subsidies mean nothing if there aren’t any jobs to begin with. The funding announced for university, TAFE, training and apprenticeships is short-term and short-sighted – a one-year subsidy does nothing for those in apprenticeships that take 3 or 4 years. Massive increases to university fees will only leave people with massive debt or make it totally inaccessible to many working families. To make sure all young workers have the opportunity for a secure job and a secure future we need more apprenticeships that are funded for the long-term, more TAFE funding, more training, and more jobs.

There is nothing in this budget that really supports young workers.

There is not enough in this budget that creates jobs for USU members.

There is not enough support in this budget for USU members and your families.

While we’ve saved Equal Pay, it’s only because our members campaigned together to win.

Too many people have been left out of a budget that needed to deliver for all workers.

The USU will not stop our campaigning for more jobs and secure jobs for all of our members.

We will continue to fight for AviationKeeper and support all aviation workers throughout this difficult period. We will continue to push for increases to local government Federal Assistance Grants; for better funding for TAFE and training and long-term support for apprentices and young workers. We will continue our efforts to win a Just Transition and a clean energy future. We will continue to Stand Up for Super so that no woman retires in poverty and every worker can have a decent retirement.

Throughout your working life, no matter your job, no matter your industry, no matter where you are: the USU is by your side.