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Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Page: 173

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Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) (9:43 AM) — I» «move» :

That this bill «be» «now» «read» «a» «second» «time .

The Treasurer has provided clear context for the government’s decision to further support economic growth and jobs through the Nation Building and Jobs Plan.

Demand in the economy needs to be fostered, and our economic circumstances provide the opportunity to boost necessary economic and social infrastructure. We are particularly pleased with the Building the Education Revolution initiative, which will offer all Australian schools an unprecedented opportunity to enhance their level of amenity and renew and develop facilities with expected flow-ons for educational outcomes.

However, our Nation Building and Jobs Plan goes beyond the rollout of key infrastructure investment. The government will provide $12.7 billion in tax bonuses and payments to low- and middle-income Australians as part of its plan to help provide further immediate stimulus to the economy and to continue to support Australian households.

Widespread support will be provided to households through bonus payments under the tax and transfer system, including additional support and incentives for people to engage in education and training. These payments will complement those made in the Economic Security Strategy and seek to broaden the spending base covered in the government’s overall response to the economic crisis. Approximately 12 million individuals will benefit from the bonus payments, which will not be taxable and will not be counted for income-testing purposes.

The Household Stimulus Package includes five key bonuses.

Back to School Bonus

Our back to school bonus will assist over 1.5 million families and 2.8 million children in meeting the costs of education during these difficult times through a one-off bonus of $950 per child to families with school-aged children between four and 18 who are eligible for family tax benefit part A. In addition to those who will receive the back to school bonus because they are eligible for family tax benefit part A, the government has decided to extend the bonus to children aged 18 or under on 3 February 2009 who receive carer payment or disability support pension. The $2.6 billion bonus will provide an immediate boost to consumption to help support growth and jobs.

Single Income Family Bonus

To give additional assistance to families with children that have one main income earner, the government will provide a $950 one-off payment to approximately 1.5 million families who are entitled to family tax benefit part B. This measure complements the $950 tax bonus for working Australians announced as part of the government’s plan, which is provided for in a separate bill.

Training and Learning Bonus

The government will further support education and training through a $513 million training and learning bonus, comprising two elements. A one-off bonus of $950 will be paid to eligible students, those returning to study or training, and to certain other income support recipients to assist with costs for the 2009 academic year. The government will also provide a temporary additional incentive for eligible social security recipients to return to education and training in the form of a $950 supplement to the education entry payment and relaxation of the eligibility criteria. The training and learning bonus will assist Australia’s recovery by providing for a more equipped workforce into the future.

Farmers Hardship Bonus

The global financial crisis is not just a city phenomenon. Our regions and rural areas will also feel the impact of the slowdown. So, as part of our Nation Building and Jobs Plan, we will provide support for growth and jobs in rural and regional areas already experiencing difficult times. The government will provide $20.4 million in 2008-09 for a one-off bonus payment of $950 to farmers and small business owners receiving exceptional circumstances related income support payments. These payments will benefit approximately 21,500 recipients.

These one-off bonuses are necessary to provide an immediate stimulus to the economy given the severity of the global downturn. It is a critical part of the government’s National Building and Jobs Plan. I commend the bill to the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr PD Secker)—In accordance with the resolution agreed to earlier, the debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate is made an order of the day for a later hour this day.