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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4752


Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (14:46): My question is to the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation and the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. How is the government helping working people and their families through the budget? Why is it important that all working families benefit from the proceeds of the mining boom?

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongMinister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (14:46): I thank the member for Parramatta for her question. She, like everyone on this side of the House, is very committed to working Australians and their families. We are committed to it and that is why we have got behind the last budget, because working Australians and their families are big winners out of the last budget.

The best way that they are big winners is that we are bringing the budget into surplus. It is a remarkable accomplishment when you look around the rest of the world to see how well this government and our Treasurer have done in producing a surplus. Furthermore, when we talk about the surplus, that is not the only way that we are helping working Australians and their families deal with the mining boom. There is no question that the mining boom has been very good for some Australians, but not for all Australians. We have seen the pressure on the dollar. We have seen investment going to the mining areas and we have seen other parts of the Australian economy do it harder—manufacturing, domestic tourism and education services. This is a budget which is about helping spread the benefits of the mining boom to all Australians.

There is a long list of how working Australians get helped in this budget. First of all, we have seen this budget build upon previous Labor budgets and, in fact, two weeks ago we saw the ABS employment statistics for April say that 11½ million Australians are working. This is the largest number ever in the history of the Commonwealth. The jobs are being created—87,000 jobs in 2012 alone. We know this year will be hard on employment but, even contrary to some of the expectations, we have been going better than we dared hope.

It is not just about creating jobs in this budget; it is also about the skills. Last financial year 320,000 people entered apprenticeships. If you want to do something for working Australians, give their children and their young ones an opportunity to get a skill and a trade. The list goes on. We have seen in this budget support for older Australians to be able to find work and support for sole parents to be able to find work. We have also seen support for people who receive family tax benefit part A. We have seen support for families to help make ends meet. If they have two children, they get $600—that is real money. If they have one child, they get $300.

This list of the accomplishments of this budget in helping people do not stop there. For example, there is the schoolkids bonus. We hear a lot from the opposition complaining about how some people get attacked by the government—well, let me tell you: I have never seen such a massive smear on parents with school age children who receive family tax benefit part A.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: You might not like hearing it, but you shouldn't have said it! Australian parents can be trusted to spend money on their kids. If you do not know that, then get out and talk to some parents trying to make ends meet. It does not just stop at the school bonus for kids. How about that tax-free threshold—below $18,000, no tax. How about some social justice for people trying to make sure that they get the benefit of this economy as it changes?

Ms O'Dwyer interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Higgins is warned!

Mr SHORTEN: What about that billion dollars for the National Disability Insurance Scheme? We have shown our bona fides. Where are those of the opposition?