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Budget gets mixed reviews

Federal treasurer Wayne Swan handed down the 2010 Federal Budget at Parliament House Canberra
Greek-Australian business will face a “big hole” as a result of the Federal Budget if the world economy continues to slow down.
Hellenic Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HACCI) spokesperson Sam Saltis welcomed the Federal Budget’s business tax cut initiatives but is concerned that the delivery of the budget initiatives weighs heavily on the controversial resource ‘super tax’.
The Federal Government announced in the lead up to the 2010-11 Federal Budget on Tuesday its intention to impose a 40 per cent tax on the super profits of resources companies from 2012.
The revenue from the ‘super tax’ will fund a majority of the announced budget incentives, and help to drive the Federal Budget into surplus three years ahead of forecasts.
“The big lever on the budget is whether the mining companies are going to continue to make profits, and whether China continues to invest,” Saltis cautioned.
“I think there will be a tightening of policy for many countries in the EU to avoid the issues that Greece is facing…and here in Australia, mining companies are already considering the withdrawal of their investments.”

Saltis forewarned that there is no guarantee that the super tax will be passed by Federal Parliament.
However this is not a concern for political scientist Nick Economou, who believes that any obstructions to the tax will be countered with a double dissolution.
“If the Government is returned, which it is likely that it will, I expect the Greens to hold the balance of power and the tax should go through,” he said.
Dr Economou underscored that the mining sector would continue to boom regardless of the industry’s “hollow threats” to oppose the 40 per cent tax.
“One thing that’s lost in this debate is that it will be viable for smaller mining companies to explore and develop, if larger mining companies decide not to,” he said.
“Whilst there are a lot of things we don’t know about the impact of the European situation on the world economy, Treasury is notorious for being conservative so I expect we will go to surplus ahead of time.”

The Federal Budget strategy is described by Economou as a diversion from Rudd’s failures and reinforces the Government as a good economic manager.
It is “dull prosaic document that is just what the doctor ordered”, according to Economou.
The Vice President of the Doctors Reform Society, Dr Con Costa however does not agree that the budget’s health strategy is the best medicine for patients.
“We were definitely happy to see large funding in health, but if the money goes into primary care to promote the way it currently is- which sees doctors get paid more money the more patients they see, then it is not really encouraging doctors to provide quality care for those with more complicated medical conditions such as the frail elderly,” he said.

He added that the $523 million for nurse training and support will only improve the doctor’s ability to churn through more patients.
“Unless the reform program addresses the way doctors are paid-away from the ‘fee-for-service system’, we are ignoring the elephant in the room.”
Dr Costa also raised concerns about the $355 million allocated for 23 new GP Super Clinics.
“The current shortage of doctors and nurses has already proved it difficult to get these clinics up off the ground- they’ve only managed to open three Super Clinics in three years and now they’re promising more,” he said.
Executive Director of Australian Greek Welfare Society (AGWS), Voula Messimeri welcomed the $60 million plus in Federal Funding for training and education incentive payments for nurses in aged care, and supporting nursing practitioners in aged care.
“The need for training so that programs are delivered with high quality is absolutely critical because we are dealing with very vulnerable, ageing people,” she said.
“Taking into account that 30 per cent of aged care above 65 will be from non-English speaking background by the year 2021, including the very large speaking Greek community, I see this as a very positive injection of funding.”

Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA) Chair, Pino Migliorino also welcomed the $2.2 billion boost to the health system, echoing AGWS in that, “it is imperative that this system upgrade make provision for improved interpreting services, to allow health reforms to benefit those for whom English is not a first language.”
(source: neos kosmos)

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