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By Malcolm Farr
The Daily Telegraph
April 25, 2009 12:01am

Robin Hood … Treasurer Wayne Swan is expected to slug high earners in the upcoming

THE nation’s big earners, on $150,000 a year or more, will be hit to pay for pension reform.

Earners taking in more than twice the average wage could lose so-called middle-class welfare as the Federal Government prunes “programs that may not be essential”.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said a pledge for long-term pension reform would begin this Budget, with an increase in the single aged payment. He said this would require “additional support from those who are better off”.

The Daily Telegraph has reported that senior ministers are looking at possible cuts in private health insurance subsidies for the well off and elimination of some of their superannuation concessions.

Mr Rudd defended the Government’s growing debt as it funds measures to blunt the impact of recession while also seeing its own revenue shrink.

“Either you completely slash and burn everything government does and throw tens of thousands of extra people on to the unemployment queues and cut funding for hospitals and schools, or you engage in temporary borrowing,” he said.

Mr Rudd again said the increase in the first home owners scheme would end as scheduled on May 30, with subsidies reverting to their original levels.

Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said the issue was still under consideration in final preparations of the May 12 Budget.

“That issue, along with a number of others, is something we’re still actively considering,” he said.

The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that the Budget would renew the improved scheme, which doubled the usual payment for buyers of their first home from existing stock to $14,000, and tripled it to $21,000 for first home buyers of new houses.

Around 36,000 people nationally have taken up the higher grants since they began four months ago.

A renewed scheme could emphasise new home construction, an area Mr Rudd said was important.

“This boost has helped keep our housing construction figures up when the rest of the world has been falling,” he said.,27574,25383598-5012587,00.html?referrer=email&source=eDM_newspulse

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