Litany of major pledges axed to keep surplus

The Gillard government's year of ''decision and delivery'' has been followed by 12 months of what could best be described as ''decision to dump''.

An obsession with maintaining the budget surplus means many of Labor's key promises have been watered down, delayed or pushed off the table.

A Fairfax Media analysis of Labor's policy agenda for 2012 reveals the big-ticket items that failed to make the grade.

A casualty of the last budget, the long-promised ''tick and flick tax returns'' were scrapped as the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, scrambled to deliver the $1.5 billion surplus.

The reform of the tax return system - which frequently involves expensive trips to the accountant and excess paperwork - was a Rudd government proposal that would let people simply tick a box and send back a standard form that had already worked out their deduction.

The baby bonus fell to the razor in the mini-budget last month. The $5000 payment will be reduced to $3000 for the second and subsequent children - a decision unpopular with families but embraced by key independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, who call for the scrapping of middle-class welfare. And the government's plan to end the influx of asylum-seeker boats - the Malaysia solution - appears becalmed. The Coalition and the Greens are opposed to the people-swap deal, which proposed Australia sending to Malaysia 800 asylum seekers who arrived by boat. In exchange, Malaysia would send 4000 UN-approved refugees to Australia over a four-year period.

The Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, has conceded his policy may never make it into law - a reversal of his previous statements.

The hard-fought mining tax has not lived up to expectations and is a large black spot on the government's scorecard, raising almost no revenue in its first three months.

Mr Swan responded to the revelations his tax has failed to fill the coffers by saying it was unfair to judge on just one quarter.

A referendum to implement the constitutional recognition of indigenous people was shelved for three years in September, despite it being a key part of the power-sharing deal with the independents and Greens.

Instead, Labor has proposed an ''act of recognition'' as an interim measure to build for a future referendum, and a new joint select committee to look at constitutional recognition.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard.


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