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What to expect from the Federal Budget

Treasurer Wayne Swan will tonight announce the highly anticipated and talked about May 2009 budget. High on the agenda: a paid maternity leave scheme, pension increase, means testing for private health insurance rebates, and the removal of the boost to the first home owners grant.

In his pre-budget doorstop meeting in Canberra this morning, Treasurer Wayne Swan said the budget will be about jobs, nation-building and a path back to surplus.

The budget is expected to forecast a $58 billion deficit for 2009/10. Mr Swan said that there are no “easy answers” when faced with a “revenue write-down of something like $200 billion.”

In addition to the deficit in the budget, key announcements will include: a forecast of 8,.5 percent unemployment for next year; a third economic stimulus package with a focus on infrastructure, a $30 a week increase in the single age pension, government-funded paid parental leave scheme for those earning less than $150,000 to start January 2011, means-testing of 30 per cent private health insurance rebate to affect singles earning over $74,000 and families with combined incomes of $150,000, along with the axing of the higher first home owner grant.

The budget is also expected to include crackdown on specialist rorts under Medicare Safety Net, a slashing of the skilled migrant intake by about 7000 to protect local jobs, a cut in government super co-contribution from $1,500 to $1,000 for those earning less than $60,000 a year, and increased funding to the ABC for the next three years.

It is expected the budget will hurt a lot of families, with Swan accepting “full responsibility” for the pain the budget will cause for struggling families.

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