Modesty was the best policy when John Howard launched the Coalition’s program for the election today. This was no spending spree:

23 minutes: The Coalition will pay the childcare tax rebate upfront to childcare providers. This will cut the upfront cost by 30% for each family. Prime Minister John Howard says up to half a million families will benefit from the plan, which will begin on April 1, 2008.

24 minutes: To increase childcare places, the government will provide up to $1 million to local governments to build childcare centres where there are areas with no vacancies.

25 minutes: It’s ‘me-tooing’ time… If re-elected, the government will introduce tax-free home savings accounts for first home buyers (Labor has a similar policy). Up to $1,000 a year can be deposited into each individual account and will be tax-deductible. Earnings and interest from the accounts will be tax-free.

26 minutes: Parents and grandparents will be able to set up tax-free home savings accounts for their children and grandchildren, aged under 18. Annually, they will be able to put $1,000, tax-deductible, into the accounts. For children over 18, their parents and grandparents can put in $10,000 per year, of which the first $1,000 will be tax-free.

27 minutes: Subject to economic conditions, the Coalition may make contributions to these tax-free accounts from budget surpluses.

30 minutes: At the moment, people buying or building homes may be subject to state and local government taxes which go towards community infrastructure. The Coalition will give $500 million over three years, on a 50/50 cost share basis with local and state governments, to build this infrastructure instead. It will be used for building facilities like libraries, community halls and sports grounds.

33 minutes: To help parents invest in their children’s future, the government will introduce tax rebates for educational expenses:

  • Up to $400 a year for children in kindergarten and primary schools.
  • Up to $800 a year for each secondary school student.

The rebates will go towards costs of textbooks, uniforms, elective subjects costs, camps, excursions, laptop computers and broadband internet (another policy with a me-too feel).

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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