Got a budget question? Ask Minister Bill Shorten now.

Minister Bill Shorten

Capital Hill in Canberra might seem a world away from the lounge rooms and kitchens of everyday Australia.  But the people who sit around the Cabinet table (or the Shadow Cabinet table for that matter) or walk into the House of Reps to vote on legislation – these politicians are as child focused as all the other parents and uncles and aunts across the country. When you think about politicians as people rather than as politicians it’s not hard to get why.  It’s because we all love our kids and know they are the future. This year’s Budget is a good one because it will help families by helping parents, particularly mums, get practical assistance to get back into the workforce.  It’s no coincidence that my party is called Labor. We know to our bones that a job is essential to a family’s wellbeing and helping them make ends meet.

So the 2012 budget is about jobs and one of the most important ways this Government is helping parents get back into work is by returning the Budget to surplus.  By delivering on this commitment, we are creating the economic conditions of growth that will encourage business to keep investing, innovating, recruiting and paying workers in good jobs. And that’s really the key – a good job. I said in a speech in Sydney earlier this year that what the whole world wants is a good job.

The Government believes every family deserves not just the income but also the dignity and self esteem that comes with work. That’s why we’re providing assistance to families with child care fees for parents on income support, mostly single parents, to help more parents receive the training and skills they need to enter or return to the workforce. A lot of part-time working mums will also benefit from the tripling of the tax-free threshold. Part-timers earning up to $18,200 will pay no income tax.

Parents looking for work and their families can also benefit from a new Supplementary Allowance to manage unexpected cost of living expenses. We understand the pressure families face, paying for electricity, housing, groceries, or even a simple family outing. This allowance will help manage unexpected costs, such as urgent repairs on the family car or appliances, bills that are higher than expected, or unforeseeable medical or dental costs.

Governments are at their best when they deliver public policies that fit neatly with how Australians are already organising their lives.  And Government’s are at their best when the experience of economic change – sometimes transformative economic change – is managed and calmed by good public policies and Government assistance that helps families and individuals move through the change.

As a proud dad, I believe mums really get this better than anyone.  Because helping with change is what they do with and for their children every single day.

I’m looking forward to your questions and thanks for joining me on Mamamia.

Bill Shorten is a Labor MP, Minister for Employment & Workplace Relations and Minister for Financial Services & Superannuation. You can follow him on Twitter here.

– If you need a budget rundown, read our wrap post here.

Now’s your chance to ask questions of the Assistant Treasurer. Whatever you thought of the budget, he’ll be answering comments below. So get asking. Mr Shorten will be available until 2pm.

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