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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6220

Mr BRADBURY (LindsayAssistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation) (10:05): I am pleased to bring the second reading debate on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2012-2013 to a close. I thank those members who have made a contribution. Despite the impacts of a sovereign debt crisis in Europe and unprecedented natural disasters here in Australia, Australia's economic prospects remain strong. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the developed world and our economic growth is expected to be stronger than every single major advanced economy over the coming two years. We will confirm our position by returning the budget to surplus in 2013 and growing that surplus over the forward estimates.

In this budget we are returning to surplus while ensuring that families and small businesses are sharing in the benefits of the resources boom. This budget provides a $1.8 billion increase in family tax benefit part A for all eligible families from 1 July 2013. It also provides a further $1.1 billion for a new supplementary allowance for the unemployed, students and parents with young children on income support, with the first payment commencing on March 2013. The government is also providing an extra $2.1 billion over five years for a new schoolkids bonus paid directly to eligible recipients, despite opposition from those on the other side of the chamber. From 1 July 2012 we are more than tripling the tax-free threshold from $6,000 to $18,200 which will free up to one million Australians from the need to lodge a tax return. We will invest $1 billion over four years in the first stage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This is a very important Labor reform which will see around 10,000 people start to benefit from mid-2013 and expand to cover 20,000 people from mid-2014.

This budget will also help businesses to invest. We have announced a new initiative to allow businesses to carry back their losses to offset past profits and to get a refund of tax previously paid on that profit. From 1 July 2012 companies will be able to carry back up to $1 million worth of losses to get a refund of tax paid in the previous year, and from 1 July 2013 companies will be able to carry back up to $1 million worth of losses against tax paid up to two years earlier. We are also delivering tax breaks which will significantly help small business from 1 July 2012, such as the increase to the instant asset write-off threshold to $6½ thousand.

A number of comments have been made by members as part of this debate concerning the amendments to the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911. While I note that similar amendments were included in Appropriation Bill (No. 2) of last year, I will spend a little bit of time explaining, particularly to those opposite, the rationale behind these amendments. I state upfront that the Commonwealth government securities on issue, subject to the current legislative limit, are projected to be below $250 billion at the end of each financial year across the forward estimates. However, fluctuations in cash requirements that result during the financial year are a normal feature of the Commonwealth's annual financing task.

The number of Commonwealth government securities on issue during any part of the financial year varies in order to adequately manage any mismatches in the timing of revenue collection and expenditure outlays. Being able to manage these fluctuations in an efficient manner is critical. The Australian Office of Financial Management should not be affected by short-term borrowing constraints, as these have a negative impact upon the AOFM's ability to operate its normal cash management functions in the current financial climate. The increase in the legislative limit on borrowing from a total of $250 billion to $300 billion will allow the AOFM to most efficiently manage within-year mismatches. It will also provide the flexibility to maintain a liquid and efficient government bond market in the years to come.

Australia looks toward the future from a position of strength—strength in our economy, strength in our people and strength in our policies. This government is focused on prioritising spending to provide lasting gains to convert an increasingly productive economy into a fairer community for all Australians.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The question is that the amendment be agreed to.