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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4306


Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (14:03): My question is to the Treasurer. How is the budget spreading the benefits of the mining boom?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:03): I thank the member for Blair for his question because this is a battler's budget that only a Labor government could deliver. We are proudly back in surplus—light years ahead of our peers. We are proud to be spreading the benefits of the mining boom right around our country, to many more Australians, giving them a stake in our economic success. We are certainly very proud to make room in this budget to provide for the most vulnerable in our community, like Australians with a disability. We are returning to surplus. We are building surpluses over the forward estimates. What we are doing is providing the maximum room for the Reserve Bank of Australia to adjust interest rates should it so decide. What this means is that the interest rate in Australia—the cash rate—is now lower than it was at any time under the previous government. If you have got something like a $300,000 mortgage you are now paying $3,000 a year less than you were paying under the previous government.

I know everybody on this side of the House understands how important it is to get into surplus, how important it is to stay in surplus and how important that is for the future of interest rates in our community. What we also understand is the importance of assisting low- and middle-income families in our community and spreading the benefits of the mining boom across as many of those households as we can. That is why we are proud to provide additional support to families from 1 July next year via the family tax benefit. We are also particularly proud to be introducing a new schoolkids bonus to provide more support for the cost of education for families—something that is very important. Our future is one that is intertwined with the region. It is not just about a resources boom and what it does here. Our ability to harvest the opportunities of the Asian century in the future depends upon the quality of education for our children. As a government, from day one, we have been investing in education. Another way to do it is to help those families with those cost-of-living pressures that come when the kids are going back to school or starting a new term, and that is why the schoolkids bonus is so important.

But we are doing more than that. We are giving important tax relief to small business with the instant asset write-off for up to 2.7 million small businesses in our community and by bringing in loss carry-back. All of these are very important ways of ensuring we strengthen our economy and look after low- and middle-income Australians.