The Budget At A Glance


Highlights of Wayne Swan’s Budget 2012-13

  • $1.5 billion surplus for 2012-13, growing to $7.5 billion in 2015-16.
  • Budget deficit for the year ending June 2012 blows out to $44.4 billion.
  • Government has found $33.6 billion in savings, offset by $5 billion in new spending.
  • "Benefits of the Boom": new payments for families to offset cost of living pressures.
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme begins.
  • Commitment to aged care reforms.
  • Mining boom means economy will keep growing, despite spending cuts and carbon tax.


The Economy in 2013

  • Unemployment remains low: forecast to peak at 5.5 per cent.
  • GDP at 3.25 per cent next year, 3 per cent in 2014.
  • Inflation moderate: 3.25 per cent next year, 2.5 per cent 2014-15.
  • Mining boom continues apace: $450 billion in the pipeline. "Patch-work economy is multi-faceted": not all non-mining sectors are struggling, spill-overs from mining in-direct as well as direct.
  • Australia is the envy of the rich world: Australian GDP growing robustly while Europe, Japan and the US face a lost decade.


"Why returning the budget to surplus is appropriate"

  • The stimulus worked: the "timely, targeted and temporary" stimulus during the GFC supported economic growth and averted a deep recession.
  • Even so, the government "charted a clear path to return the budget to surplus" when growth returned to trend.
  • Growth is not "around trend", so a roughly balanced-budget is appropriate.
  • Surplus will provide confidence, not just to consumers, but to financial markets.
  • Australia retains AAA credit rating, bind rates very low.
  • Net debt will peak at less than 10 per cent of GDP, one-tenth of many OECD partners.


How Swan got back to surplus

  • $33.6 billion in savings, a part of over $100 billion in savings identified in the four budgets since 2008-09.
  • Government spending is only 23.5 per cent of GDP, a level not seen since 1993.
  • Some "smoke and mirrors": spending moved forward to 2011-12.
  • Tax receipts gradually returning to pre-GFC levels, but still lower than expected.


What are the spending cuts?

Big-ticket spending cuts include:

  • Cuts to overseas aid: $2.9 billion in savings over four years by deferring its aid target of reaching 0.5 per cent of Gross National Income by a year. Includes a $212.5 million cut to AusAID. Government points out aid budget will still double between 2007-08 and 2014-15.
  • Defence cuts: $5.45 billion over the forward estimates. 1000 civilian staff to be cut, purchase of 12 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to be delayed, purchase of self-propelled howitzers cancelled, retirement of the C130H Hercules brought forward.
  • Single parents: Parenting Payment will cease once a child turns eight for single parents, or six for partnered parents. Saves $685 million over four years.


New revenue measures, including cancelled tax cuts

  • Company tax cut from 30 per cent to 29 per cent abandoned. Saves $4.75 billion over the forward estimates.
  • Crackdown on GST under-reporting: saves $986.2 million over the forward estimate.
  • The 2010-11 income tax "simplification" measures abandoned, including the so-called "standard deduction" for ordinary taxpayers. Saves $2.094 billion over the forward estimates.
  • Superannuation tax breaks tightened, including deferring the 2010 budget measure that gave a superannuation concession to workers with super balances under $500,000. They no longer get a special tax break on their super top-ups. Saves $1.46 billion over the forward estimates.
  • Tax break for super contributions for very high earners (over $300,000) tightened: saves $946 million over the forward estimates.
  • 50 per cent tax discount for interest income abandoned. Saves $923.5 million over the forward estimates.
  • Tax breaks for Green Buildings killed off: saves $405 million over the forward estimates.
  • Personal income tax cut for mature age workers cancelled: saves $255 million over the forward estimates.
  • Limit eligibility for Family Tax Benefit A to children turning 18. Saves $360.9 million over four years.
  • Raise HECS rate for maths and science university students. Saves $314.9 million over four years.
  • Increase in the Road User Charge. Brings in $698 million over four years.
  • Fringe Benefits Tax tweaks for second home allowance. Saves $1 billion over the forward estimates.
  • Decrease in duty-free exemptions: saves $600 million over the forward estimate.


New spending announcements

"Benefits of the Boom"

  • $2.1 billion over five years for a new "school kids bonus": $410 and $820 for each primary and secondary student. Not means-tested: "all eligible families will receive the full rate of payment."
  • Benefits of the Boom: new income support payment for those on most benefits like Newstart, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment. $210 per year extra for eligible singles and $175 for each member of an eligible couple. Costs $1.1 billion over four years.
  • $1.8 billion over four years to increase the payment rate of Family Tax Benefit A. Those on full rate with one child will get $300 extra a year, those on base rate $100.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

  • $1 billion over four years for the first stage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Health and dental care:

  • $345.9 million over three years to alleviate pressure on public dental waiting lists, and $158.6 million over four years to increase the capacity of the dental workforce (but offset by $290 million in savings from re-allocating existing dental funding).
  • $475.0 million over six years for the delivery of 76 projects through the Health and Hospitals Fund (HHF) 2011 Regional Priority Round.
  • $233.7 million over three years to implement the National e-Health Program.

Aged care

  • Aged care announcements ("Living Longer, Living Better"): $1.2 billion over five years from 2012-13 (including $471.7 million in 2016-17) to address workforce pressures in aged care.
  • $660.3 million over five years from 2012-13 in residential care.
  • $955.4 million over five years to assist older Australians in need of care to stay at home.
  • $80.2 million over five years from 2012-13 for better health links to aged care providers.
  • $256.4 million over five years from 2012-13 for aged care reform priorities such as the My Aged Care website and the Aged Care Quality Agency.
  • $192 million over five years from 2012-13 for skills development in aged care workforce.
  • But there will be aged-care savings to offset this funding including $561 million over five years owing to means-testing.


  • $1.3 billion in new spending for next year’s operations, including $374.9 million over four years for a Force Transition Team to redeploy from Uruzgan to Kabul.
  • $286 million over two years for civilian and police aid in Afghanistan

Remote jobs and the Northern Territory

  • Remote jobs investment: $393 million in new spending for Remote Jobs and Communities Program, $137.5 million for a Community Development Fund.
  • Northern Territory spending: $141.6 million over four years ($326.3 million over 10 years) for the Alice Springs Transformation Plan, $239.6 million over four years for better policing and justice in the NT, $254.4 million over four years NT health and allied health. 


  • $326.9 million over four years to host the G20 in 2014.

Arts, culture and media

  • $95 million in extra money for SBS. The extra funding "will allow the SBS to maintain the quality and delivery of existing services and upgrade distribution and storage technology". Also $63 million for a free-to-Air Indigenous television service.
  • $12.8 million for new Wolverine movie
  • $39.3 million for national cultural museums
  • National Cultural Policy: no funding

Ben Eltham is New Matilda's National Affairs Correspondent.