Monday, August 5, 2013

Kevin Rudd opens election campaign with $700 million spending spree despite ... - Herald Sun

PM Kevin Rudd has committed $450 million to provide before and after hours school-based care for children.

KEVIN Rudd has opened his election campaign with a $700 million spending spree, just days after revealing a massive blowout in the Budget deficit.

Budget expert Chris Richardson, from Deloitte Access Economics, warned the country could not afford more spending.

"We don't have the money and the politicians haven't caught up with the fact the Budget is skint," he said.

"At some stage, somebody's got to make this all add up."

The PM yesterday announced massive spending on childcare, the car industry and mental health, just days after a shocking mini-Budget that increased taxes and cut spending by $17 billion to cope with a shock $33 billion hit to revenue.

But Mr Rudd said a $450 million plan to create 68,000 before and after-school childcare places at 500 schools was vital to help working families tackle the cost of living and balance work and family.

"This is just practical stuff to help families struggling with cost of living pressure - good for families, good for cost of living and good for the economy," he said.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced $450 million in funding for out-of-school-hours care.

Schools would get money to be able to open from 7am to 7pm and during holidays, and grants worth $200,000 would pay for age-appropriate activities such as music, sport and homework clubs for 345,000 children, including 85,000 in Victoria.

The PM said the new cash splash was already counted in the fine print of last week's mini-Budget that showed Labor's deficit had blown out from $18 billion to $30 billion.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said Labor "throws taxpayer money around like confetti" as he criticised the other big-spending pledge of $200 million for the car industry.

He said it was a "Band-Aid over a bullet wound" to try and heal job losses and a dive in car sales caused by Labor's $1.8 billion crackdown on fringe benefits tax for salary-sacrificed cars.

"I have more respect for your money than to just write blank cheques to industries, which, let's face it, have been very good at using taxpayers' money but haven't always been that good at maintaining production and jobs," Mr Abbott said.

Labor will also give an extra $28.6 million to Toyota for its Altona manufacturing operations and to support suppliers.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott will need to win support out west to secure his place as Prime Minister.

And Families Minister Jenny Macklin announced $21 million for family mental health services for 16,000 at risk children to help families cope with pressures at home and school.

Mr Abbott announced no new spending but repeated his pledge that abolishing the carbon tax would be his priority if elected.

Child Care Minister Kate Ellis said the out of school childcare places would be created next year and families would be eligible for the 50 per cent childcare rebate.

"Not every job finishes at 3pm when the school bell rings," Ms Ellis said.

"Our new program will change a family's weekly routine for the better. Labor understands the stress working parents feel every day when they need to rush out the door at work to pick their kids up from school."

As retail spending for the 2012-13 financial year was revealed to be its weakest in 50 years, the Reserve Bank is today expected to reduce interest rates by 25 points to historic lows, cutting $45 a month from a typical $300,000 mortgage.

Minister for Early Childhood Kate Ellis, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with Minister for Education Bill Shorten at Parliament House.

Labor plans to trumpet a rate cut as another boost for families and a sign of its economic credentials that will mean average mortgage repayments have fallen by thousands of dollars during its six years in power.

But Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey said any rate cut was a sign of the failures of "a lousy government''.

"We should not be in a position where interest rates are being cut because the economy should be growing faster,'' Mr Hockey said.

Finance Minister Penny Wong said: "Joe Hockey is so negative, he's even saying `no' to lower interest rates.''

Locals mob Tony Abbott at The Renaissance in Lidcombe. Picture: Bradley Hunter

Opposition leader Tony Abbott with Treasurer Joe Hockey.
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