Small business big winner with bonus tax deductions; $8.5bn for infrastructure puts spotlight on ports; Housing approvals boost recovery hopes; Swan banks on China rebound; Storm over vote rule on ticks
Small business big winner with bonus tax deductions
Small business emerged as a favourite in last night budget, scoring bonus tax deductions, a new support helpline and pay as you go cash-flow relief amid slim pickings for the corporate sector. The West
$8.5bn for infrastructure puts spotlight on ports
An expansion of Australia's port facilities aimed at unclogging bottlenecks for the export of iron ore and bulk commodities has been given priority under the Rudd government's $8.5 billion infrastructure push. The West
Housing approvals boost recovery hopes
The Reserve Bank of Australia's aggressive easing of monetary policy has bolstered the housing market and hopes for economic recovery, with generational-low interest rates and a record proportion of first home-buyers underpinning a sixth consecutive rise in housing finance approvals. The Fin Review
Swan banks on China rebound
The federal government is banking on a rebound in business investment in the next two years, a resurgent housing market and the recovery of the Chinese dragon to lead Australia's economy out of recession. The Australian
Storm over vote rule on ticks
Anti-daylight saving campaigners have accused the WA Electoral Commission of trying to manipulate Saturday's referendum after it emerged ballot papers marked with a tick would be counted as a yes vote while a cross would make them informal. The West
THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:
Page 2: Wayne Swan has ordered Australians to work until they are 67 and expect less in return from government in a budget aimed at cranking a recession-hit economy into gear with big spending on roads, ports and rail.
Page 4: High-income earners approaching retirement will have the tax benefits applying to payments into their nest eggs slashed in a bid to save almost $3 billion from the budget bottom line.
Page 5: Millions of working families' government payments will not grow as quickly as in the past while others will lose them altogether as Kevin Rudd puts the brakes on middle-class welfare, saving $2.4 billion over four years.
Page 8: The federal government will face a $300 billion debt hangover from the efforts to save Australia from the worst of the global recession.
Australia faces an unavoidable recession, one million people out of work and a $35 billion wage cut, but Wayne Swan believes it could have been much worse.
Page 9: The Rudd government has come to the party on the proposed Oakajee port north of Geraldton, promising a $339 million Commonwealth contribution to Premier Colin Barnett's pet project as part of a $22 billion federal capital works program.
Page 10: The government will devote itself to showing clean coal can work by staking $2 billion in carbon capture and storage projects.
Premier Colin Barnett described the federal budget as "full of good news" for WA because it provided more than $1 billion in funds for key infrastructure projects such as the Northbridge Link and Oakajee port.
Page 3: Anti-daylight saving campaigners have accused the WA Electoral Commission of trying to manipulate Saturday's referendum after it emerged ballot papers marked with a tick would be counted as a yes vote while a cross would make them informal.
Page 4: The federal government is one step away from hanging on the $424 million it has collected from a tax spike on alcopops.
Perth motorists should buy unleaded petrol today while cheaper prices are still available, with most BP sites increasing prices by 15 cents a litre, according to FuelWatch.
Page 11: The mining industry has suffered another major blow with BHP Billiton moving to slash 240 jobs from its Leinster operations amid the deteriorating nickel price.
Page 16: Rent incentives fore regional servants will be reduced and a $40 million regional development fund trimmed under plans to cut about $100 million over four years from the Royalties to Regions program in tomorrow's budget, according to Nationals leader Brendon Grylls.
Business: Small business emerged as a favourite in last night budget, scoring bonus tax deductions, a new support helpline and pay as you go cash-flow relief amid slim pickings for the corporate sector.
An expansion of Australia's port facilities aimed at unclogging bottlenecks for the export of iron ore and bulk commodities has been given priority under the Rudd government's $8.5 billion infrastructure push.
Australia's depleted clothing, textile and footwear industry will receive a funding boost aimed at fostering "innovation" in the sector - but the money provided will fall short of that recommended by a government-commissioned inquiry last year.
The consortium behind the Oakajee port and rail development has confirmed it will look to the deep pockets of China's banking sector to help fund the $4 billion project.
WA's long-held ambition to establish a steel industry in the Mid West or Pilbara may still be alive.
Fairfax Media has warned that full-year earnings could fall 26 per cent and hinted that profits at its Sydney and Melbourne mastheads have all but evaporated, after advertising revenues continued to deteriorate.
Gindalbie Metals will appeal against and Environmental Protection Authority recommendation that could prevent it from mining about $500 million of hematite ore at its Mid West Karara project.
AWB shares fell as much as 9.3 per cent yesterday as investors digested news that the grain marketer's underperforming Brazil operations had forced it to cut earnings for second time ahead of its half-year results next week.
THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:
Page 3: A third wave of government spending on infrastructure and increased pensions will be pumped into an economy which the budget bleakly forecast to see more than one million Australians unemployed and national debt rise to $188 billion in a protracted recession.
Page 4: The net cost of new spending measures announced last night for 2009-10 has been kept to $5.9 billion by the government making savings decisions worth $2.5 billion and funding its infrastructure spending from money put aside in last year's budget.
Page 6: The economic downturn is set to last longer than the deep 1990s recession as the worst global contraction since the Great Depression mutes any recovery in activity, the federal government has warned.
Page 9: Businesses will dramatically pare back their capital expenditure over the next year, when business investment is forecast to slump by almost 20 per cent, before starting to recover the following year.
Page 11: The federal government will provide $1.4 billion over four years from July 2010 to introduce a new research and development tax credit, but there is doubt over the net benefits from the new arrangements.
Page 12: The government has committed a new $8.5 billion to road, metropolitan rail and ports in response to Infrastructure Australia's priority list of critical projects.
Page 1: The Takeovers Panel is working on reforms to fast-track the system for resolving takeover battles amid expectations that prolonged stress in global financial markets could trigger a surge in disputes over deals.
Stockland is set to become the latest company to tap equity markets, launching a capital raising of more than $1.5 billion, the property trust's second in just six months.
Page 3: The Reserve Bank of Australia's aggressive easing of monetary policy has bolstered the housing market and hopes for economic recovery, with generational-low interest rates and a record proportion of first home-buyers underpinning a sixth consecutive rise in housing finance approvals.
Page 5: The federal government is set to hand out the first cash under its $116 million structural adjustment program for the beleaguered car-parts sector as part of the $6.2 billion car plan.
Page 7: BHP Billiton has laid off 240 workers at its Leinster nickel operations in Western Australia, adding to thousands of job losses in the one-time boom state.
Page 1: Wayne Swan has milked Peter Costello's budget surplus legacy to help fund a $22 billion infrastructure spending spree to create 15,000 jobs a year -- buying the government economic breathing space as it waits for the global recession to run its course.
This budget is a portrait of an optimist in the middle of a nightmare. The world faces its worst economic contraction since the Great Depression but Wayne Swan is a convinced optimist who has produced a budget for optimists.
Wayne Swan reckons he can jack up government spending by more than at any time since the Whitlam government, digest the biggest slump in tax revenue since the 1930s Depression and return the budget to surplus in six years.
These are the budget cuts that won't bark. No voter, other than someone on more than $150,000 a year, can look at last night's savings measures and say: "Wayne Swan is coming after me".
Page 2: Labor has committed $22 billion to build key road, rail, broadband and port projects, including $4.6 billion for the construction and planning of nine metropolitan railway lines across the nation, aimed at stimulating the economy and creating 40,000 jobs.
Massive infrastructure spending on key road, rail and port projects would speed Australia towards economic recovery and increase the productivity of the nation.
It is not a budget in which every player gets a prize. In the depths of a downturn it cannot be. It is, however, a budget that gives every voter a glimpse of better times to come - and security in the short-term through a massive $22 billion infrastructure spend.
Page 3: The government has based its return to budget surplus on a highly optimistic view of world growth -- one that is not shared by the International Monetary Fund, the Reserve Bank or by other major economies.
The jobless will receive an extra $41 a fortnight if they take on additional training and education, under a two-year scheme that will precede a forecast peak in the unemployment rate to 8.5 per cent by 2011.
Luvvies have received a boost in the federal budget, despite the economic slump, with the ABC and SBS reaping an extra $185.3 million for additional local drama content.
Page 4: Ministers face years of painful belt-tightening with no funds available for election promises as the government deals with the biggest collapse in its revenue since the Great Depression.
The government has moved to support jobs and investment in the crucial small business sector, increasing the tax deduction on new capital items to 50 per cent, at a cost of $141 million.
It's the one bright spot amid the doom and gloom of a resource sector in decline and Len Rule reckons he's jumped on board at just the right time.
The true measure of toughness for last night's budget was the cut to the private health insurance rebate. It is the first serious breach of Labor's election platform.
Page 5: Workers will be forced to delay retirement until they turn 67 instead of 65 under a plan to make the aged-pension system financially sustainable and avert a "demographic time bomb".
The government will save $1.6 billion over five years by reducing the payments of at least 300,000 pensioners who are considered well off because they receive private income from superannuation or property.
Page 6: Wayne Swan has widened his attack on executive excess, moving to crimp the ability of the highly paid to hide their money from the tax office, in a package of measures that will raise up to $735 million a year.
Homebuyers have been given an extra six months to collect a souped-up handout to get into the property market with the Rudd government yesterday extending the $7000 top-up to the first-homebuyers grant until the end of the year.
Page 7: Wayne Swan will freeze the top income limit for family payments until 2012 as part of the government's carefully targeted attack on middle-class welfare.
Page 8: More than $5 billion will be ploughed into tertiary education and research over the next six years to expand student numbers and boost research.
The attempt to close the gap in health outcomes between indigenous and other Australians will receive a further $200 million push from last night's budget, reflecting the continuing slow progress in turning around generations of neglect by health planners.
Page 11: The government is making a massive $2.4 billion investment in low-emission coal in the budget.
Petrol may be one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions but motorists will not have to pay to pollute for five years.
Page 15: An agreement struck between James Packer's private company and the NSW government will clear the way for a new $112 million village - incorporating shops, accommodation and skier facilities - to be built in what is now the Perisher Blue ski resort's car park.
Business: The federal government is banking on a rebound in business investment in the next two years, a resurgent housing market and the recovery of the Chinese dragon to lead Australia's economy out of recession.
The size of the Australian bond market will nearly double in the next four years - but the government is keen to change the mix of debt securities to avoid flooding investors with pure bonds.
China's embrace of profound re-engineering of its sprawling metals processing industry by 2011 could yet create complications for its current international champion Chinalco, as its $US19.5 billion Rio Tinto deal winds slowly through Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board.
The tough advertising market has forced Fairfax Media to downgrade its full-year operating profit expectations, as chief executive Brian McCarthy ruled out a return to last year's earnings until 2012 at the earliest.
Concessions on wharfage rates could be one of the advantages of government involvement in the $4 billion Oakajee Port and Rail development, the project's chief executive, Chris Eves, indicated yesterday.
A national broadband network born of a union between the federal government and Telstra would be bad for competition unless regulatory reform accompanied it, according to industry observers.
Trilogy Capital Group will launch a formal takeover bid for the embattled $600 million City Pacific first mortgage fund "within days", having secured almost double the number of investor votes required.
Andrew Forrest's Fortescue Metals Group says a listing on the Shanghai Stock Exchange is not a current proposition, despite just days ago revealing it had been studying the move for more than a year.
The romance of mysterious star-crossed lovers Colleen and Robert remains strong. But they are growing increasingly anxious that the world is turning against them.
Ford will offer 300 million common shares in a public offering designed to shore up the carmaker's cash reserves and keep the company out of bankruptcy as its rivals struggle to restructure.
Shares fell 1.2 per cent after a sell-off in global equities and commodities and as the market anxiously awaited the federal budget.