The Government’s “Economic Security Strategy” has four parts totalling $10.4b in 2008-09.

  1. A $4.8b one-off handout to pensioners and carers to be paid on 8 December — $1,400 to single pensioners, $2,100 for couples and $1,000 to carers. Legislation for this needs to be passed this week to meet the December deadline. Watch for high-stakes brinkmanship in the Senate, with the Opposition pushing for its preferred $30 a week increase, supported by the minor parties, and the Government warning that the package is being endangered by cheap populism. Rudd has committed to full-scale pension reform in the next Budget, which won’t reach pensioners until 1 July 2009.
  2. $3.9b to Family Tax Benefit A recipients via a $1,000 payment for each eligible child, to be paid on 8 December.
  3. $1.5b to first-home buyers via a temporary additional $7,000 payment in 2008-09, taking the payment to $14,000, and an additional $14,000 to purchases of newly-constructed homes, taking it to $21,000.
  4. $187 for new training places in 2008-09.

The Prime Minister is referring to a fifth element, the “bring-forward” of infrastructure investment, with a December infrastructure statement. Forget about that — there’s not going to be enough money for major new infrastructure funding unless the economy performs far more strongly than expected.

Peter Fray

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