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Budget 2000: a strong foundation.



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9 May 2000 A68/2000

BUDGET 2000: A STRONG FOUNDATION

This year’s Budget provided a strong foundation for the revitalisation of rural and regional Australia in the new century, the Leader of the National Party and Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, said today.

"There is still much work to be done, but this Budget demonstrates that this Government has the capacity and ability to deliver responsible and meaningful economic benefits," he said.

"The delivery of a fourth Budget surplus in a row is a significant achievement and a clear signal that the Government is now living within its means.

"The massive Government debt we inherited from Labor will be reduced by $50 billion - or more than half - by June next year, helping Australia to continue to live within its means.

"And the fact that we have achieved these aims without raising taxes confirms this Government’s economic management credentials."

Mr Anderson said the $562 million regional health package announced in the Budget was a valuable contribution to addressing the problems of regional Australians.

"Health is an absolute priority for all Australians, and the lack of medical services in regional Australia is a major source of disadvantage," Mr Anderson said.

"Health was also identified as a key service area by the Regional Australia Summit last year.

"The Government’s decision to focus on this problem in this Budget stands to make a real difference in both increasing the number of doctors in regional communities, and improving the level of services available to those communities."

Mr Anderson also welcomed the continuation and enhancement of the "Agriculture - Advancing Australia" program through a $309 million funding package over the next four years.

"This highly successful program is another example of the value of targeting policies and funding programs at specific areas of concern.

"I am also very pleased at the Budget’s contribution to the education of country children. Allowances for isolated children have been increased, and the discount applying to farm and small business assets

under Youth Allowance access has been increased to 75pc."

Mr Anderson said the Government faced an ongoing task to continue to address three broad areas of regional concern - the need for infrastructure renewal, addressing natural resources problems and especially salinity, and economic development.

"Each of these challenges require distinct approaches, but the first thing all require is a strong economy which can support the policy initiatives required.

"This Budget demonstrates that Australia has regained that economic strength," Mr Anderson said.

Media Contact: Paul Chamberlin: (02) 6277 7680 / (0419) 233 989

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© Commonwealth of Australia 2000 Last updated:  Wednesday, 10 May 2000