Budget 2006: At a glance

By Simon Collins, Simon Collins
Key points from today's Budget

True to its word, the Labour Government has poured money into roading and the elderly rather than cut taxes in its seventh Budget today.

Spending on land transport - mainly new roads - will rise by almost half, from around 0.9 per cent to around 1.3 per cent of the national income, in the next three years.

Residential care and home-based support for the elderly will get $126 million extra over the next four years.

Other main points of the Budget are:

* The budget surplus, after allowing for accounting changes, will shrink from $7 billion in 2005-06 to $5.8 billion in the coming year, bottoming at $3.6 billion in 2008-09. That's a drop from 4.5 per cent of the national income to 3.6 per cent and 2 per cent.

* Tax rates are unchanged.

* Economic growth is forecast to slow to 1.5 per cent both this year and next year, before recovering to 3.7 per cent in 2007-08.

* Jobs will shrink by 0.2 per cent in the coming year and unemployment will rise to 4.7 per cent.

* Money will be poured into areas aimed at "transforming" the economy from commodities to high-value products, with big boosts for science, export marketing and the Venture Investment Fund, as well as roading.

* Modern apprentice numbers will increase to 14,000 by the end of 2008.

* The Budget implements Labour's $1 billion election promise to scrap interest on student loans, and raises the parental income threshold for the full student allowance from $35,000 a year to $39,270.

* The Government will spend $76 million over the next four years on a campaign for healthy eating to stem obesity.

* Promised "school-ready" health checks for four-year-olds, improved school dental services and newborn hearing tests are implemented.

* A 10-year buildup in defence spending announced last year will continue with a $73 million increase this year.

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