In an effort to pull itself out of a $44 billion deficit and end the next financial year with a $1.5 billion surplus – thus becoming the first major developed nation to get out of debt after the global financial crisis – Australia’s budget received a significant makeover in the form of cuts and handouts.
''The deficit years of the global recession are over,'' said Treasurer Wayne Swan. ''The surplus years are here.''
· According to Radio Australia, 70 per cent of Australia’s foreign aid spending benefits the Asia-Pacific region. While the budget will increase from $4.8 billion this year to $5.1 billion for 2013, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands will receive reduced funding; Vanuatu, Samoa and Fiji will see a moderate fund increase.
· The government will allocate 13,750 places under its humanitarian program in 2013, according to Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.
· Over the next five years, approximately $52 million will be spent on increasing Australia’s overseas presence. China and Senegal are two nations at the forefront of this effort.
· $5.45 billion will be cut from defence spending over four years, but this will not affect the soldiers currently serving overseas.
· The mining resource tax will help “spread the benefits of the boom” by directing profits ($3.6 billion) to families, low income earners and those without jobs who will be hit hard by the carbon tax, effective 1 July 2012.
· The corporate tax rate will be reduced by one to 29 per cent as a result of the mining resource tax.
· A “modest” tax cut will benefit income earners of up to $80,000.
· The Family Tax Benefit Part A will increase and equip more than half a million families with an extra $600 per year.
· $3.7 billion will be allocated to the aged care system to help the elderly live at home for more time.
· The new budget is very anti-smoking: $600 million in savings will be accumulated by lowering travellers’ duty-free allowance for tobacco to 50 grams and cigarettes from 250 cigarettes to 50. Surplus funds will be directed towards health programs that aim to help prevent heart attacks and stroke.
· Beer drinkers are not exempt: over the next 12 months, increased taxes will funnel an estimated $2.183 billion to the government.