2010-11 Budget – Responsible management and a faster return to surplus

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 @ 2:33PM

The Rudd Government will get the budget back in the black three years ahead of schedule and ahead of every major advanced economy.

Senator for the ACT, Kate Lundy said she was proud to be part of a government that had worked so hard to keep the economy in a position of strength.

“From a local perspective, I am impressed with the way the ACT and Federal Labor Governments have worked together to deliver programs and projects such as the Building Education Revolution that have kept people in jobs. This has helped our community and Australia avoid recession in the midst of a global economic crisis.

“This extraordinary achievement has flowed through to even lower unemployment of 3.5% for the ACT, the second best employment rate in Australia after the Northern Territory (3.2%).

“I welcome the ongoing stability in public sector employment, with the overall number of commonwealth public sector jobs increasingly marginally along with the expected ebbs and flows as the public service responds to the economic conditions and policy priorities of the Government.

Below is a video with some of her thoughts on this topic, and the transcript is at the bottom of this post.

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The stability in the public sector is also good news for our private sector.

Canberra’s small business community will be celebrating with news that 22,131 local small businesses will benefit from tax relief and simplification through an instant write-off of assets worth up to $5,000.

The Government will also provide a cash flow benefit to many small businesses by introducing an earlier cut to the company income tax rate to 28 per cent for small businesses from the 2012‑13 income year.

“It is great to see small business recognised as the engine room of the economy after the crucial heavy lifting they did during the global recession that kept so many people in Canberra in work.”

Better health and hospitals

Senator Lundy said that the 2010-11 Budget would fully fund over the forward estimates the recently announced historic health and hospitals reform.

Overall, the Budget included an additional $2.2 billion investment in the health system that takes the Government’s new investment in health reform to $7.3 billion over five years, and $23 billion over the rest of the decade.

The Government is taking responsibility for the majority share of hospital costs and full policy and funding responsibility of GP and primary care services and aged care services.

The budget brings the Federal Government’s investment in health reform in the ACT to $2.43 billion over five years, including:

  • $8.4 million capital funding to expand capacity within the Canberra Hospital system for emergency department treatment and the expansion of the emergency department and associated facilities to help achieve the Commonwealths new four hour national access target.
  • $6.8 million of capital funding to boost elective surgery capacity at the Canberra Hospital.
  • $26.1 million for additional beds for sub-acute services.
  • $34.7 million to support infrastructure to deliver a world class cancer care system in the ACT.
  • $2.8 million to establish a new Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre in the ACT.
  • $2.6 million to support long stay older patients in the Canberra Hospital.
  • $9.4 million in preventative health measures in the ACT including healthy children, healthy workers and healthy communities program funding.

Also included in the Budget is a $467 million investment to modernise our health and hospital system through a new eHealth initiative.

The introduction of personally controlled electronic health records for every Australian who wants one will mean less paperwork and better services no matter where you move to through your life.

Tackling Climate Change

The Budget contains a new $652 million fund to support renewable energy and energy efficiency.

This includes a further investment from existing renewable energy programs including:

  • $4 million for a project run by CSIRO and the Australian National University to develop advanced solar thermal energy storage technologies and
  • $4.95 million for an Australian National University led applied research project in collaboration with industry to help develop the next generation of solar cells.

In addition eight projects have been shortlisted under round one of the Solar Flagships Program including AGL Energy who will now share up to $15 million in feasibility funding for a photovoltaic technology project across multiple sites in Australia, including the ACT.

“The government is committed to reducing our carbon pollution and tackling climate change and I welcome this additional investment in renewable energy.”

A record of investing in our people – skills for sustainable growth

Another welcome investment in the National Capital is the $112.9 million over 4 years plus $2 million per year from 2014-15 onwards to establish and maintain the Australian National Institute for Public Policy on the ANU campus.

This investment will complement the $38 million provided for the response to the “Ahead of the Game” Blueprint for the Australian Public Service report.

Combined, these investments indicate the federal Labor Government’s commitment to strengthening the public service by investing in people with the capacity to tackle the complex challenges of the future.

The Government is allocating more than $660 million to training, apprenticeships and adult literacy and numeracy in a bid to provide Australian workers with the skills they need and a guaranteed training place for every jobseeker under the age of 25.

The Government will provide $79.3 million over two years to increase the number of young Australians undertaking traditional trade apprentices in skills shortage occupations. This will deliver up to 70,000 new training places, and support an additional 22,500 apprentices nationally.

Senator Lundy said that the Government’s significant investment in skills and education will help to build critical capacity in the economy, for example to respond to the demand for trades as a result of the ongoing program of capital works in our region.

In addition to capital works projects already underway this includes $26 million to maintain local ACT roads and $165 million in new Defence spending including upgrading its installations in Duntroon, Majura, HMAS Harman and HMAS Creswell, a $7 million extension to the National Museum main building to open up space for more exhibitions and $4.5 million for a new roof for the High Court.

Making tax time simpler

In further tax reform announced in the Budget, from 1 July 2012 the Government will make it easier to fill out tax returns by offering a standard deduction.

Senator Lundy said that the new optional standard deduction will mean individuals can receive $500 instead of having to claim work-related expense each tax season, with this increasing to $1,000 from 1 July 2013.

Senator Lundy also reminded the people of the ACT that they also have another round of income tax cuts on the way on 1 July – the third in as many years. From 1 July this year, individuals will be able to earn up to $16,000 and not have to pay income tax (up from $11,000 in 2007-08) due to the Government’s increases to the Low Income Tax Offset.

Paid Parental Leave

This budget also includes the Federal Government’s eighteen weeks of paid parental leave to start on 1 January next year, paid at the Federal Minimum Wage. The federal government has committed to paid parental leave which will be available to Canberrans who earn less that $150,000 a year.

Stronger, Fairer Super

The Government will assist 8.4 million Australians improve their retirement savings by gradually increasing the superannuation guarantee to 12 per cent from 1 July 2013. From 1 July 2012, the Government will assist older Australians to make catch‑up contributions, by allowing workers aged 50 and over with balances below $500,000, to make up to $50,000 a year in concessional superannuation contributions.

Media Contact: Annika Hutchins 0407 458 882

Transcript from video:

Well the budget has some wonderful news for the ACT.

We know that we have over 22,000 small businesses here in Canberra that will benefit from the tax simplification and asset write-off up to $5000.

Why is this important? Well it is important because it’s small business that has seen us through a global economic recession.

So much so that the ACT economy has been the best performing in Australia, and the Australian economy is the best performing in the world.

This economic performance is because the Federal Labor Government took strong action when it was needed. The Stimulus package, the many projects including the Building our Education Revolution here in Canberra have been very successful in keeping our local trades in jobs, and making sure that our community keeps working.

In addition, a very important issue for Canberrans in the stability of the Commonwealth public service. And once again – for the third budget in a row – our public sector employment numbers have remained stable.

This is critically important because it’s a ballast in keeping our economy steady and strong. And despite all of the fear campaign by the opposition, our commitment for a strong public sector continues.

I also really pleased to see the further public investment in the Australian National University, The Australian National Institute for Public Policy. This investment complements the $38 million response to “Ahead of the Game: a Blueprint for the future of the Australian Public Service” as chaired by Terry Moran.

Combined, these two initiatives show the level of commitment by the Federal Labor government to the quality and sustainability of a very capable Australian public service.

As I said, many businesses, many people in the community have a direct relationship with the Commonwealth sector, and I’m really pleased to see the stability in that sector sustained.

Finally I’d like to mention health reform.

Health reform is a very big issue for Federal Labor, and now with our historical agreement with the states, we’re set about making the investments necessary to change our health system, to make it more integrated, and to deliver services in our community where they’re needed most.

Here in Canberra, we already have a commitment for a $30 million Cancer centre and integrated service centre for people all around our region, as well as many more investments that will directly impact on the quality of health service you receive.

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