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Thursday, 24 May 2012
Page: 5598

Mr CHEESEMAN (Corangamite) (10:48): Today I rise to speak on the 2012-2013 budget. I was wondering as I was putting together this speech what Tony Abbott might have said to his party room meeting the day after the Treasurer delivered the speech. I am sure he would have said: 'Let's not worry about facts. They get in the way of the truth. Let's get out there and continue to mislead the Australian community about the state of the economy.'

This budget very much is a Labor budget. It is structured in a way that will support families, particularly in terms of delivering economic growth, supporting low unemployment, supporting low inflation and keeping downward pressure on interest rates. If we look at the state of the economy today with its national unemployment rate of 4.9 per cent, the reality is that our unemployment rate is lower than that of the Howard government. We have created some 800,000 jobs in what has been a remarkably challenging economic environment not just domestically but also globally. And we have heard members on this side of the House indicating very clearly the challenges that we face. This budget very much delivers on Labor's commitment to continue to maintain a surplus, which of course is very, very important. But it also is a Labor budget in that it is structured in a way that will help families, particularly in responding to cost-of-living pressures.

Labor is delivering for my constituents throughout their entire lives to ensure access to services and support and to make sure that no-one is left behind. From Alvie to Belmont, children are getting the best start in life thanks to Labor's paid parental leave scheme. This scheme provides working mums—some 969 of them—support in looking after their children in the very, very early weeks of their lives and supporting mums and dads who might choose to adopt a young one. It is a fantastic Labor initiative. This will ensure that parents have that precious opportunity to bond very early with their child, which I think is certainly very important. Having two young sons myself, I know the importance of not only spending time with a newborn baby but also in assisting our wives and partners in looking after those children.

From Colac to Dereel, Labor is supporting the delivery of high-quality child care. The 50 per cent child-care rebate is very much appreciated by families across my electorate. Indeed, there are about 3,854 families that have been enjoying that benefit to enable young parents to return to work and to continue to support their families. From Elliminyt to Forrest, this budget delivers a boost to family tax benefit A and family tax benefit B provisions. In Corangamite, there are over 10,000 families who rely on family tax benefit B, and that will provide $110 per child per year—again helping to support families. There are around 8,000 families on family tax benefit B, and that will provide those families with an extra $69 per child per year. Once again it is Labor that is delivering money to help support families with children. We know that there are many pressures on families, and anything that Labor can do to support families we will of course do.

There are also around 9,000 families across the electorate who will be receiving the schoolkids bonus. My electorate of Corangamite is a key part of the Geelong growth corridor. Many young families are moving to my electorate to build their first homes and to raise their families. The schoolkids bonus is going to help support them in raising their children—which I know is a very popular aspect of the budget. There will be some $410 per year in support provided to families with children in primary school, and some $820 will be provided to families with kids in secondary school. This is an initiative that will help right across my electorate to support families in their efforts to raise and educate their children. It is absolutely the Labor way; it is what we do. We are providing additional support for teenagers so that families can support young people, particularly during their later high school years, their university studies, their apprenticeship studies and the like. Again that is very important.

Some 50,000 taxpayers in the electorate of Corangamite will be receiving a tax cut on 1 July, and some 40,000 of those 50,000 constituents will receive a tax cut of at least $300 a year. These tax cuts are very well tailored to support my community, in particular to support people who have been out of the workforce for some time, whether it be because they have been raising a family or because they have been made redundant at some point in the years before. These tax cuts will provide a real incentive to get those young and older people back into the workforce. It is a Labor way to go about things. The tax cuts will very much support families in Corangamite, and that is very important.

Labor has historically played a very important role in working, particularly with the trade unions, to build and deliver people's superannuation savings. It was Labor and the trade unions that worked hand in glove to put in place compulsory superannuation savings that enable people to retire with dignity. That very strong Labor initiative was undertaken primarily in the eighties and nineties. It is Labor again that is recognising the importance of superannuation—and we are particularly recognising that a larger percentage of our society is going to be post the age of 65 as the baby boomer generation moves through. We are recognising the importance of providing dignity in retirement to families by increasing superannuation by three per cent. That means that a typical 30-year-old worker today will retire with more than $108,000 in their superannuation account when they get to retirement. That is critically important not only for those individuals but also for the Commonwealth budget, because it will enable future governments to keep our pension costs low. It is important that, wherever we can do that, we do so.

Corangamite—and, indeed, the Greater Geelong area—has a very large number of small businesses. In fact it is often misunderstood how important the small business sector is in the Greater Geelong region. Most people when they think about the Greater Geelong region talk about the very large manufacturing businesses that are in the region—and indeed they are important. But equally important, if not more important in terms of it being the engine room of the Geelong economy from both an employment perspective and a wealth generation perspective, is small business. Labor recognises that, and we are putting in place arrangements to help support it, including the instant asset write-off. These measures, I think, are very important combined with the loss carry-back mechanism—again, something that will support cash flow and liquidity in small business. It is something that I am very pleased with and very proud of.

Unfortunately, we were not able to continue to pursue the one per cent tax cut that we wanted to provide to business across my electorate and the economy. We were not able to do that because Tony Abbott was not prepared to support tax cuts for small business. It is very disappointing, but we have put in place a number of other mechanisms in its stead which we have been able to get through the parliament.

Labor also recognises that for pensioners—and I have some 25,000 pensioners in my electorate—it is a particularly challenging and difficult time. We are putting in place additional money, some $338 a year for singles on the pension and some $510 a year for combined pensions, to support them in meeting the cost of living pressures that are within the economy at the moment.

This budget is very much a Labor budget. Time does not permit me to talk about some of the very local outcomes that we have been able to secure not only in Corangamite but across the Greater Geelong region. I look forward to engaging with my constituency around those matters to highlight the very strong contribution this government, the Labor government, is making to the Greater Geelong region.