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Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Page: 5419

Dr EMERSON (Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy, Minister Assisting the Finance Minister on Deregulation and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs) (5:30 PM) —I am pleased to bring the second reading debate on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2010-2011 and the cognate bills to a close. This budget contains measures to boost the economy’s capacity and support economic growth by building skills and infrastructure. It contains measures that support saving for the future and ease cost-of-living pressures today. This budget implements the government’s tax reform agenda, making the tax system stronger, fairer and simpler. It invests in Australia’s health, with significant further investments in our National Health and Hospitals Network. This budget builds on the support provided to the economy during the economic downturn and delivers on the government’s commitment to return the budget to surplus as the economy recovers. We will see the budget return to surplus within three years. This is three years ahead of schedule and ahead of every major advanced economy.

We are investing $661 million in skills and training, which will include 70,000 new training places and support for 22,500 apprenticeships. The government’s Skills for Sustainable Growth will boost the skills of Australian workers and ensure that the education and training system is responsive to the needs of the economy. Foundation skills of literacy, numeracy and language, crucial to job seekers and for those wishing to upskill, will be provided. These investments in Australian workers will lead to higher workforce participation and higher productivity. This budget makes a $996 million equity investment in the Australian Railtrack Corporation for upgrades to major rail freight networks to increase Australia’s economic capacity.

This budget takes important steps to increase national savings. The government is introducing a tax discount for interest income and introducing reforms to deliver a saving and superannuation system that is fairer for low-income earners and provides flexibility for those needing to save as they approach retirement. The government has implemented policies that will ease the cost of living for working families and make tax returns simpler and fairer. Another round of personal income tax cuts is delivered, meeting the government’s commitment to deliver real benefits for working families. Tax time will be simplified through the provision of a standard deduction for work related expenses for Australian workers.

The 2010-11 budget invests an additional $2.2 billion over four years in the government’s health and hospital reform, with a focus on better hospitals, improved primary care and preventative health care. In this budget the government will provide a further $522.7 million over four years for Australia’s nursing workforce. The nurse’s role in general practice will be expanded, particularly in prevention and chronic disease management, and nurses will receive additional training and education in aged care. The government will commit $416.8 million over four years to improve after-hours access to GPs and to establish Medicare Locals across the country. We are providing an additional $355.2 million over three years to increase the number of GP superclinics. This will make it easier for people to access high-quality and comprehensive primary care services in one community location.

The government has succeeded in protecting the Australian economy and people through the worst of the economic downturn. I commend Appropriation Bill (No.1) 2010-2011 and the cognate bills to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bills read a second time.