Plans to bring forward tax cuts for middle and high income earners to this year’s 2022/23 federal budget could reportedly be shelved.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is now unlikely to accelerate the relief by two years and flatten the tax rate for those earning between $45,000 to $200,000 to 30 per cent, The Australian reported on Wednesday.

Citing an unnamed senior government source, the news outlet said Mr Frydenberg plans instead to focus on cost of living pressures, such as rising petrol prices.

Federal Labor has previously committed to backing the so-called stage three tax cuts, which would cost about $17 billion a year, originally due in 2024/25.

Mr Frydenberg is also reportedly considering extending the low and middle income tax offset, which gives an eligible taxpayer an offset of up to $1,080, for another 12 months.

Meanwhile, Australia’s critical mineral sector will be bolstered in the upcoming federal budget with more than $200 million for manufacturing projects.

The government has announced $243 million will be spent across four projects in the sector.

Critical minerals, such as nickel, magnesium and other rare-earth elements, are heavily used in the manufacture of technology such as mobile phones, electric cars and solar panels.

Nearly half of the funding, $119.6 million, will go towards an integrated nickel manganese cobalt battery material refinery hub in Kalgoorlie.

Meanwhile, $49 million will be spent on processing high-grade vanadium from a Western Australian mine and transporting it to a plant powered by clean hydrogen.

There will be $30 million set aside for a rare-earth separation plant in the Northern Territory, the second of its type outside China and the first in Australia.

The fourth package will be $45 million to help construct a high-purity alumina production facility near Gladstone in Queensland to help meet rising demand for lithium-ion batteries and LED lights.

It is expected the four projects will help create more than 3400 jobs.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new initiatives were critical to expanding the critical minerals sector in Australia.

“These projects are about manufacturing the products and materials Australians need, and the world needs, by making them right here at home,” Mr Morrison said.

“We’re helping grow the local critical minerals processing and clean energy industries and locking in the future of those industries by backing manufacturing projects in Australia.”

The critical minerals projects will form part of the federal government’s $1.3 billion modern manufacturing initiative.

Industry Minister Angus Taylor said the projects would mean Australia would capture more of the global supply chain.

He said the initiatives would help address the dominance of China in the area, which is currently responsible for between 70 and 80 per cent of critical mineral production.

“Australia is lucky to have some of the largest reserves of the critical minerals and metals which drive the modern global economy … this initiative is designed to address (China’s) dominance,” he said.

“These projects are not only game changers for the local region with the creation of new jobs – they will also open up incredible export opportunities.”

Andrew Brown
(Australian Associated Press)