The budget snapshot
Treasurer Wayne Swan delivered his long-promised surplus ... albeit a slender one at $1.5 billion.
It is a sad reality that while Speakership sexual harassment scandals and tales of bordello-bound credit cards make more exciting reading than budget coverage, the budget is probably the political event that affects our lives the most.
So we kinda have to pay attention to it.
This year Treasurer Wayne Swan has brought down a budget where he cuts lot from defence and foreign aid, and saves money by reneging on a promise to cut company tax. He has, of course, delivered his long-promised surplus, albeit a slender one at $1.5 billion, due at some stage during the next financial year.
The good news is that there is still plenty of cash to splash around, and as it is targeted towards people and families on lower incomes, with generous child-care support built in, you could say it’s quite a good budget for women.
One new initiative is the ‘‘schoolkids’’ bonus, which is basically a payment straight to parents, in January and July each year, to help with education costs. Primary school kids will get $410 and highschool kids will get $820 a year, starting next January.
Less well-off mums are winners from this budget.
For those on the maximum rate of Family Tax Benefit A (for lower-middle income families), there will be an increase of $300 a year for families with one child, and $600 a year for families with two or more kids."
People on welfare - ie those receiving Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance and the Parenting Payment, will get a special additional payment of $210 a year, with couples getting $350 a year.
The government needs to get as many people in the workforce as possible, and it needs women to work in order to improve productivity. So it has funded a scheme to assist some income support recipients with kids to re-train and return to work.
Less popular among some of the left-wing MPs in Labor caucus was the decision to cut back payments to single parents (read: single mothers) who are reliant on the pension. They used to get the single parent’s pension until their kids turned 12, but now it will be cut off when their kids turn 8, effectively forcing them back into work (or onto the dole).
The government has also forked out $1 billion (over four years) as seed funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Women are statistically far more likely to end up as disability carers, so anything that helps disabled people maintain independence and alleviates women of the burden of caring for them is also a win for the sisterhood. It’s worth noting that the commitment to the NDIS is bi-partisan, so the Coalition have effectively promised to fund it too if and when they win government.