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Parliament approves key Budget bills

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THE HON WAYNE SWAN MP Deputy Prime Minister Treasurer

SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG Minister for Finance and Deregulation



The Government welcomes the passage of key bills for the 2011-12 Budget that gets us back in the black, gets more Australians into jobs and spreads the opportunities of the mining boom.

The Senate’s approval last night of the Budget appropriation bills is a key step in delivering the Gillard Government’s responsible budget that constrains spending and delivers $22 billion of savings.

The Government is committed to returning the Budget to surplus in 2012-13 to ensure we don’t compound the pressures that will flow from the mining investment boom in the years ahead.

The Budget restricts spending growth to an average of 1 per cent annually over the forward estimates, compared to 3.7 per cent annually over the last five years of the previous Coalition Government.

The independent Reserve Bank this week endorsed the Government’s fiscal stance and confirmed our strict fiscal rules are taking pressure off the economy:

“...fiscal policy was expected to exert a significant contractionary impulse on aggregate demand over the next two years.”

The Government also welcomes the Coalition’s parliamentary support last night for changes in this year’s Budget to family tax benefits, after its reckless attacks on these important savings measures when they were first announced.

We also welcome the Coalition’s honesty in explaining that it supported the savings because: “we couldn't find equivalent savings measures”. (The Australian, on-line, Wednesday 23 June 2011).

While support for these important measures is welcome, it is disappointing that the Opposition continues to block other important savings measures, jeopardising the surplus.

The Budget has been widely welcomed by peak business groups, community groups, unions and private sector economists who have acknowledged the Government’s strict fiscal discipline.

The Budget also contains:

• A major $3 billion skills and training package - Skilling Australia’s Future Workforce

• An historic $2.2 billion investment in mental health

• Measures to assist with cost of living pressures, such as extending the Education Tax Refund and Family Tax Benefit Part B for families with teenagers in school or training

• A strong growth outlook and strong job creation, with unemployment expected to fall further from its current level of 4.9 per cent.

The Gillard Government will continue to get the economic fundamentals right, keep our public finances strong, and support jobs growth and record business investment.

CANBERRA 24 June 2011

Contact: Fergus Maguire (Treasurer) 0423 846 593

Laura Anderson (Finance Minister) 0411 143 111