Swan says surplus budget a win for battlers

Wayne Swan’s fifth budget is a win for the battlers as well as a return to surplus, according to the Treasurer.

Mr Swan told Parliament on Tuesday night the 2012 federal budget contained a combination of big spending cuts, handouts and new spending initiatives.

Describing it as a “Labor budget to its bootstraps” Mr Swan said the budget helped ease cost of living pressures on Australians not currently benefiting from the boom.

“This Labor Government believes the tremendous opportunities of the mining boom should be shared fairly with all Australians,” Mr Swan said.

The education tax refund which let families claim back 50 percent on a range of education expenses for children has been scrapped and replaced with a direct cash payment.

The promised 1 percent business tax cut that was to be funded to the Minerals Resource Rent Tax has been scrapped and replaced with a $3.6 billion package of handouts for families and a new tax write-off for small businesses.

Funding for the long awaited National Disability Insurance Scheme will begin in 2013, and start with assisting 10,000 people with disabilities and expand in coming years.

In health, $345 million will be allocated to reduce the backlog on public dental waiting lists and $233 million over three years to upgrade Australia’s e-health records and systems.

But cuts in government programs, tax rises and deferred spending were needed to bring the budget to surplus.

Defence spending has been slashed by $5.4 billion, most notably the deferral of the Joint Strike Fighter project, while $2.9 billion was saved in foreign aid by delaying promised increases in spending.

The Minerals Resource Rent Tax will come into effect from July, taxing 30 percent of the profits from coal and iron ore producers with annual profits of more than $75 million.

The wealthy will be hit with an increased tax bill on their superannuation, with workers who earn more than $300,000 set to have their super contributions taxed at 30 percent instead of 15 percent.

The surplus is projected to be modest at just $1.5 billion in 2013 but is tipped to expand in subsequent years.

The Opposition was critical of the budget, with shadow treasurer Joe Hockey saying that Labor had “cooked the books” to achieve their surplus.

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