AT A picnic table in Anglesea, Franca Eddy, 3, is begging to play with her mother's wallet. Clare, 34, agrees. ''Kids do that,'' she says. ''There's only about $10 in there anyway.''
There may be more soon, as the federal government has promised to increase the education tax rebate for families with school-age children.
In the marginal seat of Corangamite, which has been out of conservative hands only once since 1931 and which Labor won by a pencil-thin 0.9 per cent margin at the last election, Mrs Eddy said ''people are finding it difficult lately''.
Her husband works full-time at Centrelink and also as a personal trainere, often leaving home at 5.30am and not returning until after 9pm.
''Food and your day-to-day living has become so expensive. They are long days but we've got to do it.'' She said it was helpful to have a bit more money but she would probably vote Liberal. ''Liberals seem to save money, Labor seems to blow it a bit.''
Accountant Paul Bayne, 52, who works at surfing instruction business Go Ride A Wave, drew a picture on his last voting ballot.
''I'll probably just draw another picture on [the next] one,'' he said yesterday - not because he did not care, he said, but because of frustration.
He said the government was ''all spin and no substance'' when it came to dealing with the Craig Thomson affair and the budget would hit small businesses hard.
''It's going to cost us an additional $35,000 in super [contributions]. We are lucky to make $100,000.'' He said the company had hired two trainee employees this year but when the new tax laws were fully implemented, it would not be able to do that again.
The accelerated depreciation of assets was ''just a timing difference'', and there was little to help struggling industries or create jobs. ''I think it's a political budget rather than a reformist budget. I won't be voting for the government.''
He was concerned that extra funds from the new mining tax would go to paying pre-existing expenses, saying that a sovereign wealth fund was needed to capitalise on the extra mining revenue.
Suellen Eskrigge, 45, whose children play with Mrs Eddy's every Monday, said she was a ''staunch Liberal'' and was worried about the impact of the carbon and mining taxes on industry. ''My husband works for Alcoa coal plant. It will have a major impact.'' Mrs Eskrigge, who is a part-time hairdresser, disagreed with cuts to TAFE funding, saying both she and her husband had learnt their trades there.
She thought the federal member for Corangamite, Darren Cheeseman, ''seemed OK'' but what would it take to change her vote? ''I'd have to trust my leader for a start. At least Kevin Rudd had some substance.''
The part-time office manager at the surf lifesaving club, Diane Feudoloff, 52, whose husband works at the local hardware store, said the increased super contribution would be a help. ''I hadn't worked for quite a few years so I didn't have as much put away,'' she said.
But she was worried about the burden placed on businesses, which had to ''find that extra'' for employee super contributions. ''They've said the super is going up and it's coming from the mining tax but it's businesses that have to pay it. I don't see how it's going to work.''
She voted for Labor at the last election but if the ALP wanted to win her vote next time, she said the government needed to clean up the Thomson and Slipper scandals.
Mr Cheeseman, who in February said Labor would be ''decimated'' if Ms Gillard led it to an election, said out of 1000 doors he recently knocked on, no one had mentioned the Slipper or Thomson scandals. ''We've still got 18 months to go,'' he said. ''I think the government has a lot of work to do and we are getting on doing that work.''