$10 is not enough Mr Costello
By DARREN COYNE
TONY Wright is wondering how to split the extra 10 bucks a week with his four children.
That's about how much the Kingscliff father estimates his family will benefit from the federal budget delivered by Treasurer Peter Costello on Tuesday night.
The money could buy the kids two litres of fuel each, one-and- a-half movie tickets, or they could carve up a kilo of half-decent steak between them.
"I anticipated very little out of the budget, and at the end of the day wasn't disappointed. Where can I spend $10 a week on my children?" Mr Wright said.
"With the size of the surplus ($10.8 billion) and with a chronic skills shortage in this country it's disappointing to see there's no real money for innovation or further education."
Mr Wright's assessment, that rising interest rates and in-creasing fuel costs would negate any weekly cash bonus was echoed across the Tweed yesterday.
The budget generated a mixed reaction from welfare groups, small business operators, pensioners and educators, and Opposition politicians were, of course, not impressed.
"There was nothing in the budget for health, dental health or anything to offset the high cost of transport - nothing at all for us, it's ridiculous," pensioner Ron Roberts complained.
Banora Point High School Teachers Federation representative Phil Whitehead said there was nothing in the Budget for education, while small businesswoman Shelley Leape welcomed changes to tax depreciation rates for equipment.
Brotherhood of St Laur-ence said the federal budget had failed to address the disincentives faced by people wishing to move from welfare to work, while Richmond MP Justine Elliot slammed the budget as short-sighted.
"This short-sighted budget does nothing to invest in the future, nothing to address the skills crisis or our ageing population and has no national plan to fix our crumbling infrastructure," she said.
"With a teenage unemployment rate of over 36 per cent in our area I am disappointed that the Howard government delivered nothing to provide our young people decent training and job opportunities.
Mrs Elliot said the budget did nothing to address regional shortages of doctors and nurses, fuel prices, and inadequate transport and telecommunications networks.
"With 20 per cent of Richmond's population 65 years and over there is a large number of locals who have been completely forgotten by the Howard government," she said.
Kingscliff pensioner Margot Wall was furious with the budget, saying it delivered nothing for her.
"Single pensioners like me are disadvantaged. A married couple can survive, but if you're left on a single pension it's difficult to keep up with things such as the upkeep on the family home," she said.
"To me the budget is a case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
"The rich are getting an extra $100-plus tax break a week, while those on small incomes are getting next to nothing.
"I'd like to see pensioners being able to help themselves by being allowed to earn up to $120 a week without their pension being affected.
"If they had this money it would go back into the economy. We could join Medibank Private, still run a car and afford various living expenses.
South East Queensland mayors slammed inadequate road funding, while those south of the border complained that the Pacific Highway would only receive $1 to every $4 spent on the Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne.