Monday, May 14, 2012

Some call it class warfare. Swan on his budget today

Hi speech, in Melbourne today

Treasurer Wayne Swan will today embrace the rhetoric of class warfare as he depends his budget, accusing its opponents of wanting to keep Australia’s wealth in the hands of a fortunate few.

“In my view, we simply cannot claim to be a prosperous nation until all Australians can access the opportunities ahead of us – that’s what this budget was really about,” he will tell the Australian Council of Social Service in Melbourne.

“Of course the usual suspects will call this class warfare – whether that is a misunderstanding or simply a distortion is another issue – that’s fine, I am delighted we are having this debate.”

“It is a debate about what kind of country we want to be - a country that capitulates to the demands of the vested interests and allows benefits to amass disproportionately to very few, or a country where we stand up for the fair go.”

Praising the Council of Social Service as an “important counterweight to powerful vested interests” he will say his fifth budget in many ways delivers on the values he has fought for his entire working life.

“A strong economy and disciplined fiscal policy is vital if you are going to build a fair community and support the most vulnerable,” he will say. “But without social mobility you don’t allow people to achieve their potential. You sell the economy short.”

“When Tony Abbott accuses us of class warfare for providing people with an opportunity to participate in the boom and for helping our most vulnerable, he is really saying that his only vision for growth is increased inequality..."

“His choice will always be to look after his vested interests by making people frightened of change, and to equate the status quo with economic responsibility. In contrast, our choice will always be to tackle the big social and economic reforms that will build a better future for all Australians.”

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey yesterday backed up Mr Abbott who last week attacked the Schoolkids Bonus delivered in the budget as allowing people to “blow it on the pokies”.

“What he said was if you are handing out taxpayers' money there needs to be accountability,” Mr Hockey said. “He is absolutely right, accountability is essential. The irony is the government imposed a $1.8 billion flood levy at the beginning of the year saying they didn't have enough money to pay for the Queensland floods. Towards the end of the same year they are handing out cash to people no strings attached. It's not good public policy and we will not support bad policy.”

In its final year in government the Coalition delivered bonuses to pensioners, self-funded retirees, veterans and people with disabilities, all with no strings attached.

Mr Swan will say today his “Spreading the Benefits of the Boom” package will benefit more than one million families, 380,000 of them in Victoria. By delivering the Schoolkids
Bonus automatically rather than upon the presentation of receipts the budget will make sure nobody misses out. “You shouldn’t need a good accountant to get support with the costs of schooling,” he will tell the Council of Social Service.

Mr Swan will be tackled at the lunch about his decision to pay Australians on the Newstart unemployment benefit a bonus of just $4 per week rather than the increase of $50 per week demanded by a broad range of business and welfare organisations.

He will describe the measure as “providing a little more our most needy”.

In today's Sydney Morning Herald and Age

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