Wage growth has been downgraded and universities and migrants have taken a hit in the government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO), which was delivered in Canberra on Monday.
Federal treasure Scott Morrison presented the mid-year forecast and revealed the federal deficit has improved by $5.8 billion, but the country is still facing $23 million in debt.
In its effort to deliver a surplus by the 2020/21 financial year, the government is aiming to cut $1.2 billion from the social services portfolio by extending the waiting period for new migrants wanting to access the welfare system from two years to three years.
Universities and students have also taken a hit. Morrison said the government is saving $2.1 billion on higher education by freezing the Commonwealth Grants Scheme to universities and putting a cap on funding for student places.
There will also be a lifetime cap on student loans. The ABC reports the maximum loan amount will be about $104,000 for most students and $150,000 for medical, dentistry and veterinary courses.
The government had previously tried to save $2.7 billion through higher education reform, but was blocked in the Senate in May.
However, the Commonwealth Grants Scheme does not require Senate approval, ensuring a quick win for the treasury.
The citizenship scandal has come back to bite the government in the behind with $11.6 million spent to cover the costs of the multiple High Court challenges.