How lawyers responded to the 2022 budget and budget reply

27 April 2022 By Jerome Doraisamy

New findings reveal how legal professionals perceived the various measures announced by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese in the recent budget week.

In the first fortnight of April, the second Momentum Intelligence Industry Insight survey was conducted, exploring the political leanings of sector participants in legal services, mortgage lending, financial advice and wealth management, real estate, aviation, defence and national security.

A total of 481 lawyers, spanning all voting-age demographics, responded to the survey as part of a total of 2,553 responses.

As reported earlier this week, three in five (60 per cent) of lawyers chose Labor leader Anthony Albanese over incumbent PM Scott Morrison (27 per cent) on the question of who will make a better Prime Minister for the coming term of Parliament.

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Responses to Frydenberg’s budget

When asked whether they thought Frydenberg’s 2022 budget would be good or bad for the legal profession as a whole, more than one in three (35 per cent) lawyers responded that the announcements would be “quite good” or “extremely good” for lawyers, compared to 58 per cent of those surveyed across the aforementioned seven professional services strands.

One-quarter (26 per cent) of lawyers said the budget was “quite bad” or “extremely bad” for the legal profession, compared to 17 per cent of all seven industries, when asked about their sectors.

Lawyers were slightly more approving of Frydenberg’s budget when asked if they feel the nation and the profession will be better or worse off in 12 months’ time if those measures are implemented: 40 per cent said things would be “a little better” or “a lot better”, while one in three (33 per cent) said things would be “a little worse” or “a lot worse”. Twenty-eight per cent said they did not know.

In response to the specific announcements noted by Frydenberg:  

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  • Providing small businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million to deduct a bonus 20 per cent of the cost of expenses and depreciating assets that support digital uptake: Over two in five (42 per cent) lawyers think this initiative will be helpful for the profession, compared to 19 per cent who thought the opposite;
  • Providing small businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million access to a 20 per cent bonus deduction for eligible external training courses for upskilling employees: 44 per cent of lawyers were in favour of this, compared to 21 per cent who weren’t;
  • Enabling companies with annual turnover of less than $5 billion to offset losses against previously taxed profits to generate a refund, and extending it to include the 2022-23 income year: One in three (35 per cent) thought this will be helpful for lawyers, while one quarter (27 per cent) didn’t think it will be helpful;
  • Providing $9.9 billion over 10 years to enhance Australia’s offensive and defensive cyber and intelligence capabilities: 39 per cent of lawyers are in favour of this for the sake of the legal profession, compared to 31 per cent who aren’t;
  • Extending the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements and Completing Apprenticeships Commencements wage subsidy: Just 25 per cent of lawyers say this will help the profession, compared to 52 per cent who said it would not be;
  • Increasing the number of guarantees under the Home Guarantee Scheme to 50,000 per year for three years from 2022-23 and then 35,000 a year ongoing to support home buyers to purchase a home with a lower deposit: Similarly, 28 per cent of lawyers are in favour of this for the profession’s sake, compared to 41 per cent who aren’t;
  • Providing $8 million in 2022-23 to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman to work with service providers to enhance small-business financial capability: 39 per cent of lawyers think this initiative will help the profession, while 31 per cent are not convinced; and
  • Providing $1.2 billion to establish a National Space Mission for Earth Observation to secure access to key earth observation data streams, build Australia’s sovereign capability and enter agreements with international partners, including for the procurement and operation of Australian Satellite Cross-Calibration Radiometer satellites: Over half (57 per cent) of lawyers do not see how this will improve the legal profession, while 19 per cent see some benefit for the profession moving forward.

Responses to Albanese’s budget reply

Reflecting on the entirety of the budget reply, one in three (34 per cent) lawyers thought that the measures announced Albanese’s speech would be either “quite good” or “extremely good” for the legal profession, compared to a cumulative 27 per cent of those surveyed across the aforementioned seven professional services strands.

Less than one in five (18 per cent) lawyers said that Albanese’s vision for the country was “quite bad” or “extremely bad” for the legal profession, compared to over three in 10 (31 per cent) of all seven industries, when asked about their sectors.

In response to some of the specific pledges made by Albanese (not including some findings pertaining to aged-care announcements): 

  • Making childcare cheaper: More than three in five (62 per cent) of lawyers say this measure will make life easier for lawyers, compared to just 12 per cent who said that it won’t;
  • Creating more university fee-free TAFE placements: 40 per cent of lawyers think this will be very or quite helpful for the legal profession, compared to 32 per cent who think the opposite;
  • Guaranteed pay rise for aged-care workers: Nearly half of lawyers (46 per cent) said this measure would not help the profession, compared to 32 per cent who said it would; and
  • Providing cash payments to 10,000 apprentices working in new energy areas: Over half (53 per cent) of lawyers think this will not help the legal profession, compared to just 22 per cent who said that it will.

Other takeaways

While the number of lawyers who viewed Frydenberg’s budget favourably was far fewer than other professionals, it is interesting to note that those same lawyers still viewed it more favourably than Albanese’s budget reply – albeit by 1 percentage point – given that Albanese retains a significant lead over Scott Morrison as preferred Prime Minister among lawyers.

It is also worth noting that, given how little lawyers seem to think about various measures announced by Albanese in his budget reply, he maintains that lead over Morrison.

Following the release of the first Momentum Intelligence Industry Insight survey, Lawyers Weekly unpacked why legal professionals were backing Albanese at the time of being surveyed and to what extent, and also explored what issues are important to lawyers, and why sexual harassment and environmental concerns are such significant voting issues for lawyers.

How lawyers responded to the 2022 budget and budget reply
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