The 10 most unusual items from Budget 2017

"Have you heard? They're abolishing the levy on laying chickens. Whatever that means!"

They’re often tucked away in the fine print but each year the Federal Budget delivers a few unusual items that generally don’t make it into the Treasurer’s speech.

Bankers’ bonuses

Among the raft of measures affecting banking – a levy and a new complaints body – is a personal sting for bank executives. The government will mandate that a minimum of 40 per cent of an executive’s variable remuneration, or 60 per cent for executives such as the CEO, be deferred for a minimum period of four years. The budget papers say this will affect bonuses but it will presumably apply to options and share agreements as well.

Gold trade fraudsters

The government aims to introduce legislation to stop gold traders from exploiting GST loopholes or committing fraud by receiving GST and not paying it, or claiming GST refunds when no GST is paid. 

Removing double taxation on digital currency

From 1 July there will be no GST payable for people buying digital currencies such as Bitcoin, meaning digital currencies are treated the same as money.

Digital currency is currently treated as intangible property for GST purposes, so consumers who use it can effectively pay GST twice: when they buy the digital currency and again on its use in exchange for other goods and services subject to GST.

There will be a new levy on tea tree oil to fund research and development.

Tea tree oil

From 1 July the government will impose a levy of 25 cents per kilogram on tea tree oil sold domestically or exported, at the request of the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association. The levy will fund research and development.

Laying chickens

From July 1 a levy on laying chickens will be abolished, from 1.4 cents per one-day-old chick. The money had been used to eradicate avian influenza, or “bird flu”.

Technology tax fraud

Tax cheats are using point-of-sale technology that modifies or deletes sales records in order to understate business income and avoid tax. The technology will be banned.

Don’t blame us, blame them

The government has had to drop A$13 billion of measures announced in the 2014 budget and afterwards because it has not been able to get them through the Senate. The measures are detailed in an appendix to Budget Paper No. 1 titled: Decisions taken as a result of Senate positions.

Five-time Australian Rhythmic Gymnastics champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Danielle Prince takes part in the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games roadshow promotion in Sydney, Friday, May 5, 2017. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

The 2018 Commonwealth Games

Government sport and recreation expenses are expected to rise 11.5 per cent to A$416 million in the coming financial year as funding to host the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast is increased, and to build a stadium in Townsville.

Tax relief for merging super funds

Mergers should improve efficiency and competitiveness and the government will continue to provide tax relief that would have lapsed on 1 July. Funds may transfer capital and revenue losses to a new merged fund, and defer taxation consequences on gains and losses from revenue and capital assets.

It still remains to be seen what gets included in the designation “underrepresented sports”.

Sports that don’t get television coverage

Broadcasters will get A$30 million over four years to support the broadcast of under-represented sports on subscription television, including “women’s sports, niche sports and sports with a high level of community support and participation”.

Read next: Federal Budget 2017: This year’s winners and losers


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