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Govt releases budget to mixed reviews

Staff Reporter 4 minute read

By: Jessica Darnbrough

Treasurer Wayne Swan is banking on surging company tax revenue and the revitalised mining boom, backed by government spending discipline, to drive the federal budget back into the green within the next three years.

In announcing the federal budget last night, Mr Swan said the government had taken a "no-frills" approach to spending that will help get the economy back on track sooner rather than later.

The global financial crisis forced the government to spend its surplus.

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Now the government wants to get the surplus back to where it was before the GFC and, Mr Swan says the only way to do that is impose a 2 per cent cap on spending.

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) said the federal government’s decision to sensibly avoid the usual temptation of pre-election big spending commitments was a step in the right direction and provides a plan for economic recovery.

But while the government’s main initiatives have been widely applauded, the HIA said the budget contained little to address Australia’s chronic housing shortage and worsening affordability.

“Unfortunately, the budget fails to deliver measures to alleviate Australia’s chronic housing shortage,” HIA managing director Shane Goodwin said.

“The Federal Government’s own Housing Supply Council estimates Australia’s housing shortage at nearly 200,000 in 2010 and projects that shortage to double over the next 10 years.

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"Australia’s housing pipeline remains clogged by exorbitant infrastructure costs, planning delays and slow land release. Until these bottlenecks are removed many Australian families will remain locked out of home ownership as house prices and rents push ever-higher.”

While the federal government did place an emphasis on infrastructure funding in its budget, announcing a 10 year $5.6 billion infrastructure fund, Mr Goodwin said housing infrastructure costs have not been addressed.

“The dramatic escalation of the housing shortage necessitates the ramping up of the federal government’s Housing Affordability Fund (HAF) beyond the current $512 million previously allocated over a 5 year period,” Mr Goodwin said.

Govt releases budget to mixed reviews
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