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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Page: 3861


Mrs MARKUS (Macquarie) (14:49): My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to the case of a typical tradesman who lives in Windsor in my electorate and earns $78,000 a year. His wife works part-time as a nurse. They have two children under the age of five. Under changes in this week's budget this working family will now be hit with the flood tax, will receive less family benefits and will be hit with the FBT on the work ute. They will likely face higher interest rates later this year and then get hit with a carbon tax. For the first time in eight years they will see no tax cuts. What has the Treasurer got against this working family and the millions like it?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:49): These working families are valued by this government and they have been strongly supported by this government. Let us go right through that. Working families, particularly those with two incomes, have been the substantial beneficiaries of tax cuts three years in a row. Because they are relatively modest incomes, those tax cuts have been bigger for that family; they have been reasonably substantial for that family. They will also benefit from the modest increase that will come through paying the low income tax offset early. They will benefit from the fact that we increased the child-care cash rebate from 30 per cent to 50 per cent. They may well be eligible for the addition of uniforms to the education tax rebate.

I do not have all of the figures in front of me but I know one thing: families like that are very important to our nation and when they work hard they deserve to be rewarded. That is the reason we put in place the tax cuts. What I also know is that that family will be receiving very substantial benefit from the massive investments that we have put into health and into education over time—areas that were neglected by those opposite for a long period of time. Without the details in front of me I cannot know whether they will be affected by the pause at the top end, but what I can say to everybody in the House and what I can say to all Australians is that that pause will affect about two per cent of those who receive Family Tax Benefit.

It was only last week that the shadow Treasurer was ranting and raving and saying that we should not be increasing Family Tax Benefit Part A for teenagers who are still studying. He went out and said that was reckless and irresponsible. This was a very important addition to the family payment system and it was opposed by the shadow Treasurer last week. So he cannot make up his mind what side he is on. One day he says we have not cut hard enough, the next day he says we are not tough enough, then he goes on and advocates additional spending; and the merry-go-round goes round and round. Then we have the Leader of the Opposition. He has supported pauses like this in the past. In fact, he has been hostile to these payments in the past. We on this side of the House have been very strong supporters of the family payment system. We recognise that parents who are bringing up children are doing the most important job in the country and that is why we are a strong supporter of the family payment system. Family Tax Benefit A, Family Tax Benefit B—we are strong supporters of all the childcare support and we have moved to considerably improve all of those benefits in our time in government.

We know we have to bring the budget back to surplus in 2012-13 and we know that if that does not happen price pressures in the economy will be compounded. If this Leader of the Opposition wants to wreck the surplus he will be responsible for price pressures which impact on families like those who were referred to by the member over there. Their reckless behaviour, their irresponsibility, their incoherence and their incompetence are on display for everybody to see.