Interest rates are falling, unemployment is rising, Labor in on the nose, and the Gillard government is attempting the biggest fiscal turnaround in decades - setting the stage for an extraordinary federal budget.
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But some things stay the same. Observing a time-honoured tradition, the government has been busy leaking key budget decisions.
Here's what we've gleaned so far about the 2012 federal budget:
- The introduction of a "loss carryback" option for small business. Recommended by the Henry Tax Review, the carryback plan allows businesses to claim losses of up to $1 million against tax they have paid in the previous two years. It is forecast to cost $700 million over three years and is designed to stimulate SMEs in the slow end of the economy.
- A company tax cut of 1 percentage point to 29 per cent, assuming it gets through Parliament.
- Cash payments for parents. The "Schoolkids Bonus" will give $820 for parents with teenagers at school and $410 for parents of primary school students. It will be given to recipients of Family Tax Benefit and does away with the need to keep education-related receipts.
- Pushing 100,000 sole parents off parenting payments and on to Newstart when their child turns eight, delivering $700 million in savings over four years. This will mean welfare cuts of up to $60 a week for recipients.
- Welfare payments for people travelling overseas for more than six weeks will be cut.
- Billions of dollars in savings from the defence budget.
- The superannuation contribution tax will be doubled to 30 per cent for people on incomes above $300,000.
- The living-away-from-home allowance for executives will be cut, saving $1 billion.
- Job cuts for the public service.
- Funding for the national disability insurance scheme, earmarked to start next year.
- Changes to aged care funding, as detailed in its recent aged-care report.
- About half a billion for dental care.
- Cuts to green schemes, to avoid duplication with the carbon tax.
- $3.5 billion in funding to finish the Pacific Highway dual carriageway.
And what is speculated:
- Changes to housing - will the government take steps to prop up the market?
- Support for the manufacturing industry.
- An end to the 32 cents a litre diesel fuel rebate.
- A skills package encompassing apprenticeships and vocational skills.