SYDNEY got a big boost in Tuesday’s budget.

There is confusion as to what Pensioners will receive from this Budget. The Grey vote

carries considerable clout at the Polls

SYDNEY got a big boost in Tuesday’s budget.

An extra $1830 a year for the average family with kids at school. Up to $300,000 to invest in the future for one in seven small companies.

And funding for long-needed motorways – the M4 East, the M5 East expansion and the link between the F3 and the M2.

In the end, a budget is all about priorities. Who you will support and which programs you will fund.

In this year’s budget we have worked hard to support those people who need Labor’s help and to spread the benefits of the mining boom to families.

That’s the Labor way – because we believe in fairness, in the Australian fair go, in looking after those people who need our help.

This week we handed down a budget surplus – an achievement that cements Australia as one of the world’s strongest economies. That wasn’t easy – cutting back spending while protecting frontline services never is.

We were determined to get the budget back into the black because that is good for the economy, and good for families and pensioners.

There’s no clearer sign of a strong economy than a surplus.

It shows we are on the right track. And it gives us a buffer against global developments so we can ride out tough times in future, as we did during the global financial crisis.

It means we can protect jobs.

A surplus also leaves room for the Reserve Bank to move on interest rates if it chooses to do so.

Interest rate cuts like the one last week are good news for Australian families. When Labor came to office the Reserve Bank’s cash rate was 6.75 per cent – today it’s 3.75 per cent.

So a family with a mortgage of $300,000 is now saving more than $3000 a year in repayments compared to 2007.

I know no one needs this relief more than Sydney families.

And our help for ordinary Australians who need a break at budget time goes further than creating the chance for further interest rate cuts.

By making the hard decisions to cut back on spending elsewhere, the government can afford to help families and pensioners who feel the pressure of rising prices.

That’s exactly what we’ve done.

We have announced a new Schoolkids Bonus. This will mean that, from January next year, parents will get much-needed cash assistance just when they need it: At the start of Terms 1 and 3 of the school year.

We will provide $410 for each child in primary school and $820 for each child in high school – helping the families of 2.2 million schoolkids pay for all those costs of going back to school.

And to help families finding it hard to make ends meet, next month we plan to pay the same amount to families straight away.

We know our economy is strong, our budget in now going into surplus and there is a mining boom – but it’s not everyone’s boom. So we will ensure the benefits of the boom will be shared fairly with families and small business, not just the fortunate few.

We’ll use the mining tax to ensure more than 1.5 million families receive an increase to Family Tax Benefit Part A, with nearly half taking home an extra $600 a year. We will also provide a supplement to students, jobseekers and parents with young children and on income support a supplement of up to $210 a year to help with the cost of living. And we will support businesses that are not in the fast lane with a loss carry-back scheme, so businesses have support when they need it.

All Australians work to create our national wealth. All Australians should share in the benefits our national wealth brings.

Of course, this year’s budget contains more than just a surplus and help for families. We are also delivering vital transport infrastructure for Sydney.

The federal government has already widened the F5 southwest of Ingleburn. Now, after decades on the drawing board, we will also put up $25 million to allow the NSW government to unlock private sector investment in two of Sydney’s ‘missing links’: M5 East expansion and F3 to M2.

A further $150 million has been set aside to progress the F3 to M2 project if required.

There’s $30 million waiting for the NSW government to start planning the M4 East – so motorists on this vital road can reach the city.

And we’re going ahead with the new Intermodal terminal at Moorebank – linking Port Botany to southwest Sydney to put more freight on trains. It’s a project that’ll take one million truck trips off Sydney roads every year.

Labor’s plan to use our economic strength to build a fair Australia means, as well as building one of the world’s strongest economies, we are building one of the world’s fairest societies too.

Funding the historic first stage of a National Disability Insurance Scheme. Aged care reform to help senior Australians stay in their own homes. A big new investment in dental health to deliver a blitz on waiting lists. And big investments in our health system.

Budgets are challenging and time-consuming exercises.

They require difficult decisions about the kind of country we want to build.

This budget is no different.

And it is one of which I am deeply proud.

It is a Labor budget built on Labor values that will improve the lives of millions of Australian families.

Julia Gillard is Prime Minister


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