Australian parliament passes stimulus package

February 13th, 2009 - 3:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Canberra, Feb 13 (Xinhua) The Australian parliament Friday passed a 42 billion Australian dollars ($27.4 billion) economic stimulus package, after striking a last-minute deal with a key independent senator.
Following protracted negotiations Thursday and early Friday, Nick Xenophon, whose vote was needed to ensure the passage of the package, eventually joined with the government.

The parliament approval leaves the government free to immediately implement its spending plans, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stressing the package was in the national interest and would help the government fight the global economic recession.

“The most irresponsible thing to do today, with the worst global economic recession since the 1930s staring us in the face, would be to do nothing,” he told parliament.

The package includes spending on schools, housing and roads over four years, tax breaks for small business and cash handouts of AUD 12.7 billion to eligible workers, farmers and students, likely to be delivered by the March deadline set by the government.

Rudd said the treasury estimated the plan would boost economic growth by 0.5 percent points in 2008-09 and 0.75-1.0 points in 2009-10.

The opposition had been refusing to support the bill, labelling it financially irresponsible that would drive the budget deep into deficit, saddling future generations with debts.

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