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Mines taxed for families

Wednesday, 9th May, 2012

 By Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

CANBERRA - The mining tax will fund family payments and not company tax cuts under Treasurer Wayne Swan’s plan to bring the budget back to surplus and redistribute the wealth of Australia’s Asia-fuelled resources boom.

 After the coalition and Greens challenged the government’s plan to use the mining tax to give small and large business a break, Labor yestreday made a surprise decision to instead hand some of the proceeds to families.

 The federal government will put $1.8 billion toward increasing the Family Tax Benefit A from July 1, 2013 - meaning about half of some 1.5 million FTBA families will get a $600 a year boost.

 A new allowance, costing $1.1 billion, for the unemployed, students and parents with young children on income support will also start on March 2013 and $2.1 billion will go to a cash-in-hand Schoolkids Bonus.

 As a sweetener to small business, a $714 million loss carry-back scheme will be funded through the mining tax, helping around 110,000 firms over four years.

 Mr Swan foresees at least four years of surplus budgets - starting with $1.5 billion in 2012/13 - that will provide Australia with a buffer against uncertain economic winds in Europe as well as giving the Reserve Bank scope to cut interest rates gain.

 The budget turnaround, from a $44.4 billion deficit in 2011/12, comes through savings of $33.6 billion.

 The main savings include not delivering the company tax cut, changes to income tax deductions and living away from home allowance schemes, deferring superannuation tax breaks, reducing defence spending by $5.4 billion and putting off $2.9 billion in foreign aid spending.

 As well, the public service will contribute by shedding 3073 jobs, as departments deliver on a 2.5 per cent increase in an “efficiency dividend” to four per cent.

 Low income earners will benefit from the July 1 rise of the tax free threshold, from $6000 to $18,200, meaning about one million Australians won’t need to lodge a tax return.

 Mr Swan said funding of $1 billion over four years for the first stage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme for the disabled and their carers would kick start the “most fundamental social reform since Medicare”.

 About 10,000 people with significant and permanent disabilities in four launch locations will benefit from 2013/14, with the future full roll out still to be discussed with the states.

 The $61 billion health budget includes an extra $515.3 million over four years for dental services as well as funding the national hospitals deal with the states.

 In a pitch to seniors, $3.7 billion will be spent on overhauling aged care, focusing on keeping older people in their own homes for longer - with 100,000 home care packages to be delivered over the next five years.

 Duplication of the Pacific Highway at a cost of $3.6 billion to 2016/17 is the key infrastructure project, subject to the NSW government matching the federal contribution.

 The budget also forecasts around trend economic growth of 3.25 per cent in 2012/13 and three per cent in 2013/14, with the jobless rate set to remain around 5.5 per cent.

 Addressing the global economy, Mr Swan said a moderate recovery in the US “still has a long and difficult road ahead and Europe continues to cast a shadow over the global outlook”.

 But he says the weight of economic activity is shifting to Asia, and Australia’s services, manufacturing and food growing sectors have a “bright” outlook.

 “In a global economy marked by anxiety and uncertainty, our nation is a beacon of resilience, stability and success,” Mr Swan said.

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