Budget planning for the GST, the millennium bug, dealing with the impact of September 11, border integrity issues, the celebration of Federation’s centenary… A wander through the Treasurer’s budget speeches past, in the days before climate change was a blip on the radar and indigenous issues rated a mention, is a fascinating stroll through history. Follow the date links to read the full speeches.
Tonight I announce a programme
- for families
- for small business
- for older Australians
- for major improvements in health care and, importantly,
- a programme to repair the nation’s finances and secure our future…
The focus is savings — savings for investment, sustainable growth and real jobs. This Budget turns around failure and sets us on a winning course…
The budget outcome for the past year was a deficit of $10.3 billion. If we took no corrective measures it would be $9.6 billion this year… Our predecessors had Australia on a path of deficit and debt to the next century. Make no mistake, this path would only make future choices harder, future possibilities bleaker and rob Australians of the future opportunities they deserve.
The measures I announce tonight will reduce the underlying deficit by around $4 billion this year and $7.2 billion over two years.
Importantly, Mr Speaker, there is no increase in income tax rates, no increase in the company tax rate, no increase in the wholesale sales tax rates and no lift in the petrol excise. There are measures to tighten eligibility and clamp down on misuse, but the Diesel Fuel Rebate Scheme remains.
In last year’s Budget … this Government laid out a plan to turn around our nation’s finances and secure our future. Our country had been on a losing strategy — a path of deficit and debt to the next century.
So we took that problem — not one of our making — we faced it and we determined to fix it. You can’t fix years of neglect overnight. But our Government laid out its strategy and got on with the job…
The specific measures I am announcing tonight are directed to:
- helping families;
- boosting small business;
- creating jobs; and
- encouraging saving…
Every Australian will be eligible for a 15% tax rebate on their savings. The measure will be introduced in two stages with a 7.5% rebate from 1 July 1998 and the full rebate from 1 July 1999…
Mr Speaker, this Government has introduced legislation to maintain the pension at 25% of Male Total Average Weekly Earnings. We are the first Government to ever do so…
Rural and regional Australia
Rural families make great sacrifices to send their children away for tertiary education. From 1 July access to AUSTUDY will be improved for families who have two or more children away for study. The deduction under the income test for a second and any subsequent child will be doubled to allow more families more access to AUSTUDY.
In the second half of 1997, the Government will announce a comprehensive rural policy package of $200 million over four years to replace the ineffective Rural Adjustment Scheme.
Mr Speaker, tonight’s budget includes the $1.25 billion set aside to fund the Natural Heritage Trust over six years…
[In] four years time, our nation will celebrate its centenary * 100 years since federation. Naturally, it will be a time for remembering and marking our achievements. Tonight I am announcing the establishment of a new fund * The Federation Fund * to comprise $1 billion to fund projects of national significance as part of the centenary activities.
In March 1996 our country set out on a new journey.
It started from a bad position. We had lost our way — our budget, under Labor, was $10.3 billion in deficit…
When we began this journey two years ago mortgage interest rates were 10.5%. Now they are closer to 6.5% per cent. These are the lowest home mortgage rates since 1970. For the average Australian home buyer this represents a saving of $320 per month — they are $3,800 per year better off.
And low home interest rates means the affordability of housing has, according to the HIA index, improved by 24% over the last two years. What this means is more young Australians, more young families can buy their own home and get a start in life.
Young people and families are sharing the benefits of good economic policy…
For the third time in a row, tonight I announce that there will be no increase in income tax rates, no increase in the company tax rate, no increase in the wholesale sales tax, no increase in the petrol excise…
This is the only Government that has, by legislation, set the benchmark rate of the age pension at 25% of male total average weekly earnings. This means that although the Consumer Price Index did not increase last year, the rate of the age pension did. This delivered an increase in the pension of $6.80 per fortnight in March 1998…
Care and Support for Older Australians
The Government has decided that from 1 January 1999, a Gold Card for health care will be made available to an additional 50,000 Australian World War II veterans — those who faced danger from hostile forces during that war. This measure [will cost] around $500 million over four years…
A Healthy Australia
Under Australian Health Care Agreements, Commonwealth funding available for public hospitals will increase by $2.9 billion over the next five years…
Youth, Education and Training
The Work for the Dole scheme is based on the principle of mutual obligation…
The Government is also providing an additional $350 million over four years for a range of measures to address problems associated with youth unemployment. In particular, the Government is taking the Work for the Dole initiative further, requiring all young people unemployed for six months or more to participate in an activity in addition to looking for work…
Rural and Regional Australia
In the coming year over $200 million will be spent on natural resource management and sustainable agriculture under the Natural Heritage Trust and other programmes…
Year 2000 Computer Software
The Government considers that expenses incurred in detecting and remedying software problems associated with the Year 2000 millennium bug should, in general, be immediately deductible for taxation purposes.
This is the Budget for the last year of the Century. In putting together this Budget, the Government wanted to achieve a number of things:
- We wanted to deliver the election commitments we made last October.
- We wanted an economic framework which would help families by keeping home mortgage rates low.
- We wanted to deliver increased services to rural and regional Australia.
- We wanted to build the nation’s educational and research capacity.
- We wanted to keep Australia strong — having come through the first two years of the Asian economic and financial crisis.
- We wanted to keep the Budget in surplus…
Mr Speaker, for the third year in a row, the Budget will be in surplus — a surplus of more than $5 billion. And that means that this year, again, we can pay off debt… This is the fourth Budget I have presented on behalf of the Coalition Government. In those four Budgets, in net terms, we have not borrowed a dollar. And we have repaid over $24 billion of Labor’s debt…
The Budget I present tonight, for the fourth year in a row, proposes:
No increase in rates of income tax.
No increase in rates of company tax.
No increase in rates of petrol excise.
No increase in rates of wholesale sales tax.
The Commonwealth, in this forthcoming year, will spend $4.8 billion on the education of primary and secondary children…This Budget builds on previous initiatives by allocating $131 million over four years for literacy and numeracy programmes in schools…Parents want their children to be able to read and write. We want to help schools do it…Additional funding of $553 million over five years has been provided for Catholic systemic schools, implementing our election commitment made last October…
A Safer Community
The Government will establish a National Crime Information System (Crimtrac) to build a National DNA Criminal Intelligence Database and a National Child S-x Offender Database.
Mr Speaker, the Government has before the Parliament legislation to provide around $2.5 billion of extra family assistance each year. Associated with the introduction of the new tax system from 1 July next year, over two million Australian families will qualify for additional assistance — at least $140 per child, and in a one income family with a dependent child under five, $490 per child…
Training and Employment
Mr Speaker, one of the most significant structural changes introduced by this Government was the concept of mutual obligation… That is why the Government introduced the Work for the Dole scheme. It has been immensely successful…
Frontiers in Science and Research
In an historic commitment, the Government has decided to invest an additional $614 million over the next six years into health and medical research funded through the National Health and Medical Research Council…
Our next Budget will begin the story of the 21st century. By then we should have a new tax system — A New Tax System for the new century. A new tax system will fund and sustain our hopes and aspirations in health care, in education, in care for the old, and care for the young.
This Budget brings together our economic and our social goals: lower taxes, more jobs, better health care, stronger families…
As we enter the new century, Australia’s economic prospects are strong. We have done some hard yards and they are now starting to show results.
We have weathered the Asian financial crisis. Our economy has grown — above 4% for 11 quarters — with strong and consistent growth in a way we have not seen for the last three decades.
Today there are 650,000 more Australians in jobs than there were four years ago. Unemployment has fallen below 7 per cent – the lowest level in 10 years – and this year it will fall further. By June next year, unemployment is forecast to fall to 6¼ per cent.
The Budget I present tonight is in surplus for the fourth year in a row, a cash surplus of $2.8 billion… by June next year, the end of this Budget period, we will have paid back $50 billion of Labor’s $80 billion debt.
East Timor Levy
This time last year, we did not know that Australian troops would be required to lead a multinational force to restore order and save lives in East Timor. When the level of the engagement and the costs became known, the Government announced a one-off 12 month levy to cover the unexpected costs and keep the budget in surplus. The levy, to apply from 1 July next, phased in at 0.5% after $50,000 of income and 1.0% after $100,000 of income…
Like the last four Budgets, this Budget contains:
- no increase in company tax – in fact, company tax will be cut from 36 to 34 per cent on 1 July;
- no increase in the rates of wholesale sales tax – in fact, all wholesale sales tax will be abolished in 53 days;
- no increase in income tax – in fact, in 53 days the largest income tax cuts ever to come into force in Australia will take place…
On 1 July every taxpayer will receive an income tax cut. 80% of Australians – some on top rates of 43% – will pay a top rate no higher than 30%. Families will have their benefits increased as part of the largest overhaul of family assistance — ever — and these changes will give families more disposable income to outweigh any price rises from Goods and Services Tax…
On 1 July we introduce a New Tax System, one of the largest structural changes to the Australian economy — probably the largest — since World War II. It reforms income tax, indirect tax, family assistance, business tax and Commonwealth-State financial relations.
Every dollar raised by Goods and Services Tax is paid to the State and Territory Governments. It is the money that will provide the schools, the hospitals, the police, and the roads of the future…
Regional Health Package
In this Budget, the Government has decided to focus on a particular problem – the lack of medical services in the regions of Australia. In the metropolitan areas there is an average of 1,000 people for each GP. Outside the cities it is 1,500. This is an area where we want to focus and make a real difference.
Tonight I announce a major new four year Regional Health Package of $562 million…
This Budget provides a very heavy investment in apprenticeships providing $2 billion over four years for the highly successful New Apprenticeships initiative…
Stronger Families and Communities
From 1 July over 2 million families will benefit from increased family assistance — $2.4 billion a year. A single income family on $40,000 with two children, one under five years of age, will receive tax cuts and increased family payments equal to $50.63 per week from 1 July.
The rapid increase in the number of unauthorised immigrants arriving in Australia has placed considerable pressures on the Budget. The Government announced a major package last year to detect, deter and prevent the entry of illegal immigrants into Australia, including increased coastal surveillance. In this Budget, an additional $49 million over four years is allocated to further measures to control these arrivals…
The Government is in the process of a major review of Australian’s defence requirements and will release a Defence White Paper later in the year. In this Budget, however, a one-off increase of $100 million in 2000-01 has been provided to address immediate priorities in defence force reserves and improve information management systems and logistics.
This Budget also contains $128 million additional funding in 2000-01 for the enhancement of two Collins Class submarines.
In 1999-2000 Australia will spend approximately $900 million as part of its commitment to East Timor. The bulk of this cost relates to the substantial deployment of the Australian Defence Forces as the lead force in the INTERFET operation.
This Budget will build a stronger Australia. It begins the largest defence modernisation and upgrade program in over 25 years. It strengthens our borders in the fight against plant and animal disease. It overhauls the operation of our social welfare system. It invests in our health system, in our natural environment and in our most important resource of all — our people.
And this Budget will strengthen our economy. Most of all it will cut taxes…next year by over $5 billion.
And the Budget I present tonight is in surplus for the fifth consecutive year — a cash surplus of $1.5 billion.
Over the last 5 years we have worked hard to secure the nation’s finances, first to get the Government to live within its means and then to pay back Labor’s debt. At the end of this budget year we will have repaid nearly $60 billion of Labor’s $80 billion debt spree.
Further tax cuts
On 1 July this year the company tax rate will be reduced again this time from 34 to 30%. This will cut tax for business by around $2 billion per year…
Tax cuts for Older Australians
The increase I am announcing tonight will mean that in the current financial year qualifying single self-funded retirees and age pensioners will have an effective tax free threshold of $20,000… In addition the Medicare levy threshold for senior Australians will be lifted from its 1999-2000 rate of $13,550 to $20,000 so a senior Australian pays no tax and no Medicare levy until he or she earns above that amount.
Acknowledging Older Australians
The Government will pay each person who receives a pension or part pension – this covers qualifying people with incomes up to $29,263 for a single and $48,880 for a couple – a non-taxable lump sum of $300.
Australians Working Together
This Government has begun a whole new approach to welfare and work. We have introduced mutual obligation… This has led to the very successful Work for the Dole program… In this Budget the Government is making a substantial investment of $1.7 billion over 4 years to improve the way our income support system works…
Strengthening Australia’s Health System
This Budget aims to improve the health and medical care of Australian families. With an additional $900 million we are enhancing Medicare, increasing health services in rural and regional Australia and introducing 5 initiatives to treat common health problems that affect Australian families…It targets treatments for asthma, mental health, diabetes, cervical cancer and alcohol education and rehabilitation.
Safeguarding Australia’s Natural Environment
It is vital that we conserve our environment and natural resources. Environmental degradation poses a long-term threat to our quality of life, the quality of future water supplies, and the fragile environment we share as Australians. This Government established Australia’s first Natural Heritage Trust of $1 billion. Tonight I announce that the Government will invest a new $1 billion to extend the Natural Heritage Trust by five years to 2006-07.
Protecting Australian Agriculture
Mr Speaker, we have seen the damage caused in other countries by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease…Tonight I announce a dramatic upgrade in the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, the Australian Customs Service, Australia Post and airports to strengthen Australia’s quarantine protection against foot and mouth disease and other risks to our environment and agriculture. An additional $593 million over five years will be used to increase the inspection of mail and cargo entering Australia.
Building Australia’s Defence
After reviewing that plan, we have budgeted for the largest and most comprehensive investment in our defence capabilities for any Australian government in peacetime. Additional funds totaling $27.6 billion are planned over the next ten years in addition to previous budgeted funding.
Mr Speaker, the past year has again reminded us all that world events can move dangerously and unpredictably.
Last year when I delivered the Budget we did not know that four months later our world would change in such a devastating way.
The terrorist attacks of 11 September shocked us all and showed that terrorism can strike even the most powerful of nations. We cannot take our security for granted. Tonight I will announce measures to upgrade Australia’s security. Tonight I will announce measures to secure Australia’s borders…
By the end of this coming financial year we will have paid off $61 billion of the Labor Government’s debt. Our Budget for the year is in surplus, a surplus of $2.1 billion…
…last year I announced the largest and most comprehensive upgrade of our defence capabilities for any Australian government in over 25 years. Under that plan set out in a White Paper an additional $1 billion is included in the 2002-03 defence Budget. But, the Government has added to that programme to fund the deployment of Australian troops in the War Against Terrorism…The additional funding over the base funding and over the White Paper for this deployment in 2001-02 and 2002-03 is around $524 million.
Upgrading Domestic Security
In this Budget we are allocating an additional $1.3 billion over five years to upgrade security within Australia. Australia’s airport security will be upgraded. Armed, plain clothed, Australian Protective Service officers now travel on selected flights. Additional Australian Protective Service officers provide heightened security at Australia’s airports with enhanced capacity for detecting explosives. The Budget provides an additional $539 million to the Australian Federal Police, Australian Protective Service and Australian intelligence agencies to assist in identifying potential security threats…
Securing Australia’s Borders
Last Budget we proposed spending $1,635 million over five years on border security. The measures we have taken since, together with the measures I am announcing tonight, will increase that expenditure to $2,872 million. This will include $219 million to construct and maintain a purpose built Reception and Processing Centre on Christmas Island which will allow downsizing of other centres at Curtin and Woomera. The Government has allowed $455 million over the next four years for receiving and processing asylum seekers at the new facility on Christmas Island and, if necessary Cocos Island.
Mr Speaker, tonight, as part of the Budget, I am releasing the landmark Intergenerational Report…One of the big changes to our society will be that the number of older people will increase, and with falling birthrates, the number of younger ones will not grow. The ratio of old to young in our society will increase.
Supporting Australian Families
The First Home Owners Scheme has helped many young Australians to buy their first home. This grant which continues at $7,000 from 1 July will help thousands of young Australians buy a house for the first time. These grants are expected to total $784 million in 2002-03.
A Better Superannuation System
From 1 July 2002, the Government will make a matching superannuation co‑contribution of up to $1,000 per year for qualifying low income earners who make personal undeducted superannuation contributions. Individuals with assessable incomes and reportable fringe benefits up to $20,000 per annum will be eligible for the maximum $1,000 co‑contribution and those individuals with incomes between $20,000 and $32,500 will be eligible for a reduced co‑contribution. This initiative will replace the existing maximum $100 rebate for personal superannuation contributions made by low income earners.
The tragic events in Bali on 12 October last year saw 88 innocent Australians die at the hands of criminal terrorists.
We cannot take our security for granted. Tonight I will announce further measures to upgrade Australia’s security and border protection.
At the time of last year’s Budget I reported to the House on the deployment and funding of Australian forces engaged in the War on Terror. At that time our Defence Force personnel were engaged in Afghanistan.
….tonight I am announcing new defence spending of $2.1 billion over five years. Total defence spending will rise to $15 billion in 2003-04.
In this Budget, additional funding of $157 million will establish a Special Operations Command. This will deliver an additional 334 combat and support personnel to supplement Australia’s existing special forces, including an additional commando company and a maritime terrorist capability in the 4th Royal Australian Regiment. This will increase Australia’s capacity to respond to terrorism.
Let there be no doubt about our resolve to protect Australians against terrorist threats. This Budget commits an additional $411 million over five years to continue the upgrade of our domestic security arrangements.
In total, the Government will commit an additional $1.5 billion over the next four years to higher education. By 2009-10, with the reforms fully in place, there will be an extra $870 million per year spent by the Commonwealth on higher education. This represents a real increase of 17 per cent over ten years.
Rebuilding after drought and fire
Mr Speaker, the past year has seen many communities ravaged by the devastating effects of drought and fire. People have lost their lives, their homes, their livelihood. An institution of great importance to our heritage and scientific learning was lost in the ACT.
The Government expects to provide a total around $740 million in 2002-03 and the next two years in assisting farmers, small businesses and regional communities through the most extensive drought ever recorded. This funding will provide direct income support, personal counselling, tax relief and interest rate relief for those in need.
tonight the Government is announcing the establishment of a National Heritage List which will identify Australia’s places of national significance and preserve them so that future Australians will know of them, their history, and what they mean to us. Some of these places will be outside Australia like Anzac Cove, a place that helped to define our nationhood, our values, and holds a special place in the hearts of all Australians. Through partnerships between government, industry and the community these places will be kept as part of the Australian story forever. The programme is allocated $52 million.
Tonight I am announcing a package of measures to encourage the early supply and take-up of cleaner diesel and petrol. A significant improvement is the ongoing reduction of sulphur in diesel. This will facilitate the adoption of new engine technologies with further reductions in harmful vehicle emissions.
We have been challenged by financial collapse in our region, by plagues like SARS, by terrorism and war, by an aching drought that still lingers. We have had many difficult challenges and we have come through.
But it would be foolish to think the challenges are over. Economic management requires careful planning, hard work, and sound choices in difficult situations. Economic management is not an accident or a fluke.
The Budget I am announcing tonight involves huge expenditures of nearly $200 billion.
But for the seventh time since 1997 it will be in surplus.
…Tonight I am announcing an immediate payment to all families eligible for the FTB (A) of $600 to be paid before 30 June this year. As soon as Parliament enacts the legislation, eligible families will receive $600. They will then be entitled to the further $600 lump sum upon reconciling their current year entitlement after 30 June 2004. This means nearly all these families will be eligible for an additional $1,200 per child in the next 12 months.
…Fourth, the Government will roll together the existing Maternity Allowance and the Baby Bonus into a new payment, a Maternity Payment, to be paid to all mothers on the birth of a child. The payment will be a lump sum of $3,000 from 1 July and will rise to $5,000 by 1 July 2008.
…Against the wishes of the Opposition the Government has finally introduced a $1 for $1 co-contribution scheme for low income earners who make voluntary contributions to superannuation.
It is time to take this further. From 1 July the Government co-contribution will increase to 150 per cent of an employee’s contribution up to a maximum of $1,500.
The Government will provide $132 million for the Australian Defence Force contribution to Iraqi stabilisation and reconstruction. Australia will not cut and run from Iraq. This will continue the deployment through financial year 2004-05. The Government will also provide $20 million for an expected extension of our contribution to the United Nations mission in East Timor.
Medicare Safety Net
The Government’s new Medicare safety net means that Australians are protected if they face significant medical bills. A Government rebate now pays 80 per cent of non-hospital costs above $300 for those families eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A and concession card holders. For all other individuals and families, 80 per cent of costs are paid once these costs rise above $700 per year.
These changes represent the single largest improvement to Medicare since its inception. And this Government remains committed to the 30 per cent private health insurance rebate.
Over the next four years, the Government will increase funding for schools by over $8 billion to $32 billion in total. This will provide additional funding for both government and non-government schools.
Our substantial increase is conditional on the States agreeing to implement national standards designed to help students and to assist their parents. Parents have a right to know how their child is doing at school.
Tonight I announce that around 80,000 people on a Carer Payment will receive an additional one-off payment of $1,000 and around 300,000 recipients of Carer Allowance will receive a payment of $600 before 30 June. These people are devoted to those who need help to look after themselves. We can afford to pay it. And they deserve it. It will cost $255 million.
Aged care sector
The Government tonight announces a massive new investment of $2.2 billion over five years to ensure that the aged care sector is able to continue to provide affordable and quality aged care for the increasing number of older Australians.
Exceptional circumstances assistance
The Government will continue to provide support to drought affected farmers with $73 million in Exceptional Circumstances assistance to areas declared eligible since December 2003, over the period 2003-04 to 2005-06. This assistance includes income support and interest rate subsidies. The Government expects to provide around $1.1 billion in direct drought assistance to farmers and their communities over the period 2002-03 to 2005-06.
…I bring this Budget down at a time when more Australians are in work than ever before. Our unemployment rate has fallen to a low unmatched for 28 years.
…Tonight I announce details of the Future Fund — an investment fund — which will help us prepare for the coming changes.
Also tonight I will announce tax cuts for business and tax cuts for individuals to drive growth in our economy.
Mr Speaker this is the 10th Budget I have presented to this House. Before that the last Budget of the Labor Government was in deficit — a deficit of 2 per cent of GDP — around $19 billion in today’s terms. The Budget I announce tonight is in surplus — a surplus of 1 per cent of GDP — $8.9 billion. It is the eighth surplus Budget I have presented.
Parenting Payment and the Disability Pension
…From 1 July 2006 those on Parenting Payment will be expected to look for at least part-time work when their youngest child turns six and is ready for school.
…Changes to Disability Support Pensions will also come into effect on 1 July 2006. Those on Disability Pensions at present will not be affected by any of these changes.
But from 1 July 2006 a person capable of part-time work will no longer be entitled to a Disability Pension if they are capable of working more than 15 hours a week at award wages.
Tax cuts for low income earners
.. In order to improve incentives for people to move out of welfare into work, tonight I am announcing a tax cut for low income earners. The 17 cent tax rate which applies between $6,000 and $21,600 will be cut to 15 cents in the dollar. This change will take effect on 1 July 2005.
Health and Medicare
…The Australian Government is budgeting to spend $45 billion on health and aged care in 2005-06 compared to $20 billion in 1995-96.
This funding includes Medicare rebates, the Medicare Safety Net, payments to the states for state hospitals, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Home and Community Care and aged care.
…Mr Speaker, this Budget includes a major package to improve cancer care through bowel cancer screening, dedicated cancer research, training of cancer nurses, and increased funding for palliative care.
However the best way to beat cancer is to prevent it. Screening and prevention initiatives are therefore an important element of funding in this Budget.
…Mr Speaker this Budget makes dementia a National Health Priority. The $321 million package will enhance the quality of life of dementia sufferers and their carers.
The Future Fund
…Our task now is to begin saving for the future to meet the costs of our ageing population. One way this saving will be done is through a Future Fund. It will begin to fund the liabilities we have already incurred but not yet made provision to pay for. Earnings will accumulate in this Fund and it will be safeguarded by legislation. Whilst the Fund will invest the money allocated to it, no Government will be able to draw money out of it until it is sufficient to meet all the unfunded liabilities to which it is dedicated. A statutory independent board will be created to manage the Fund.
Small business assistance
…Tonight I announce $1.8 billion of tax cuts to enhance the competitiveness of Australian business. From midnight tonight, the 3 per cent tariff on imported business inputs which do not have substitutes manufactured in Australia will be abolished. This will save business $1.3 billion over five years.
And the Australian Government will continue to support business to get full relief from state government stamp duties and business taxes that were to be abolished by the GST.
Tsunami relief and warning system
…In light of the events of the tsunami, the Government will develop a Tsunami Warning System to provide 24 hour surveillance for accurate and early detection and warning in the event of a tsunami threatening the west or east coast of Australia or South West Pacific nations. This measure will cost $68.9 million over the next four years.
…Mr Speaker, this year’s Budget continues the Government’s strong commitment to Australia’s national security. The attack on Australia’s Jakarta embassy in September last year highlighted the need to protect our representatives overseas. We will provide $522 million for protective security, including enhancements at Australia’s overseas diplomatic missions.
Tonight I will announce how we can use those savings:-
* for a new programme of investment;
* for a new comprehensive tax plan;
* to help Australian families;
* to assist older Australians; and
* to secure and defend our country.
… We have now eliminated the $96 billion of net debt that Labor left the Australian Government when it left office. Our Budget is in surplus for the 9th time in 10 years:- in 2006-07 a forecast surplus of $10.8 billion. We have established a Future Fund which has begun to save for the future. With these savings the next generation will be able to meet the challenges of their time.
Now the Australian Government is debt free in net terms. We do not have to collect taxes to pay the Government’s interest bill. We are saving over $8 billion per annum in interest payments.
…Our AusLink Programme is a coordinated plan to build Australia’s key highway and rail network. In the five year period from 2004-05 we have allocated $12.7 billion to this programme.
Tonight I am announcing an additional $2.3 billion — an increase of nearly 20 per cent — in that programme.
Murray Darling Basin Commission
….In this Budget, I am announcing a new injection of $500 million to the Murray-Darling Basin Commission. This money will be used to undertake a range of capital works and improvements to protect the resources of the basin and enhance environmental flows. The Government will seek the cooperation of State Governments to maintain their contribution in real terms to the Commission.
Health and medical research
.. In this Budget the Government’s investment in infrastructure runs further than physical infrastructure. This Budget makes major new investment in health and medical research — an area where Australia is a world leader.
…And from 1 July parents will be eligible to receive the new Childcare Rebate. This will rebate 30 per cent of out of pocket childcare expenses up to $4,000 per child per annum.
…This Budget contains $802 million over the five years to 2009-10 to strengthen Australia’s intelligence capabilities.
… In this Budget, I am announcing an additional $389 million over four years to combat illegal fishing.