May 10, 2006

Budget does nothing for Australia’s future: Beazley

Budget does nothing for Australia’s future: Beazley

10 May 2006

AAP

Opposition leader Kim Beazley says the federal budget has mortgaged Australia’s economic future.

Treasurer Peter Costello last night delivered his 11th budget, announcing across the board tax cuts and a substantial increase in family tax benefits.

But Mr Beazley said the plan was gambling with the nation’s future.

"The central problem in this budget is that there’s nothing in it for the future, this budget mortgages our future," he told reporters today.

He said it was a missed opportunity to address Australia’s large skills shortages.

"We have massive skills shortages and in a budget in which the money was just sloshing around – not a cent for that," Mr Beazley said.

He said he was disappointed that the budget failed to deliver the predicted support for childcare and a new approach was desperately needed.

This is despite the government’s announcement of an unlimited number of before and after-school childcare and family day places to be funded from July this year.

Dogged by a crisis in childcare accessibility and affordability, the government has used this year’s budget to remove the cap on the number of places it is prepared to fund through the childcare benefit (CCB).

At a cost of $60.2 million over four years, the measure is expected to generate around 25,000 additional places by 2009.

"While tax cuts in some areas are welcomed for women, there’s nothing on the other side of the coin with childcare, much was promised last on child care, nothing was delivered," Mr Beazley said.

"… if you’re going to encourage people into the workforce, you’ve got to do something different on childcare.

"There was nothing in this budget different on childcare, just more reinforcement of failing policy."

Mr Beazley said the tax cuts were welcome but they were overdue and had already been spent.

"The simple fact of the matter is that our taxpayers have confronted a triple whammy in recent times," Mr Beazley said.

He said a better long-term economic strategy was needed to prevent rising interest rates.

"In the long term, if we want a low interest rate environment in Australia we’ve got to do something about our skills, got to do something about infrastructure, we’ve got to do something about our exports," Mr Beazley said.

"There’s not much hope on any of those fronts in this budget."