Taxpayers are generally underwhelmed by the budget handed down last night by Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan.
Mr Swan’s promises of a “no frills” budget devoid of pre-election sweeteners had already answered for most people the obvious question they would ask regarding any budget: “What’s in it for me?”
The general sentiment that the budget was a vehicle for the Government to outline its economic credentials ahead of the election was perhaps best summed up by retired nurse Di Allen:
“It is definitely not a people budget. A big issue was reducing debt – intellectually and politically a wonderful thing – but it has very little impact on a day-to-day living,” she said.
“People are more concerned about the cost of electricity, petrol and food.”
Ms Allen, who lives Kingston, Tasmania, says while the Government does not set electricity or water charges, it is these costs pensioners need help with.
“[The budget] was all about reducing national debt, which from a personal point of view means nothing,” she said.
Mr Swan’s third budget offered no new tax cuts or increases in family assistance benefits.
Instead, the Treasurer’s pitch to voters was to emphasise the Government’s “strict fiscal strategy” and spending restraint as the budget returns to surplus by 2012-13.
Releasing the budget to the Parliament, Mr Swan said Australia’s finances were the envy of the developed world.
2010 budget key points:
$2.2b for increased GP services, super clinic upgrades, more nurses and electronic health records
$661m to boost skills training
$652m for a Renewable Energy Future Fund
Tax breaks on interest income up to $1,000
Simplified tax returns
$1b for Australian Rail Track Corporation and $71m for a Sydney transport hub
$4.3b national security boost
40pc tax on miners to reap $12b in four years
A lift of the compulsory superannuation rate from 9pc to 12pc
A company tax rate cut from 30pc to 28pc
Mr Swan denied the Government was holding back on spending measures in order to splash the cash closer to the election.
“It’s not about the political equation. It’s about putting a budget together that’s right for the times,” he said.
The lack of traditional election-year sweeteners did not bother Jed Masters and his family.
The 34-year-old teacher, who lives in Darwin with his partner Autumn Goodall and their four-year-old son, Finn, said setting the nation’s economy on the right course was the priority.
“I thought it was a conservative budget and hopefully it will help us to move forward for the next few years,” he said.
Mr Masters said he was not concerned about the impact of the Government’s bid to channel the profits of big miners to other parts of the economy.
“I don’t have a problem with that,” he said. “The mining companies have done really, really well over the last few years and potentially will continue to do well.”