Pre-publicity means little surprise in Morrison’s budget

THE first thing to remember when looking at any federal budget – or state or council budget, for that matter – is that they are as much political documents as they are economic statements.

And pre-election budgets fall especially into this category. As has been the case for more than a decade, the major portions of this budget were comprehensively leaked or released by the government in the lead-up to Tuesday night’s official presentation.

There were no real shocks, which is presumably the way the government wanted it.

With revenue growth looking increasingly strong, and with the government prepared to forgo more than $8 billion a year in Medicare levy and income tax funds,the “budget emergency” philosophy that had been central to the Coalition’s previous take on the economy has well and truly disappeared – as a message, anyway.

Despite the bonhomie from an increasingly avuncular treasurer, the detail buried in the budget fine print shows that even if debt is predicted to fall as a percentage of our overall economic wealth, the overall amounts – in dollar terms – appear to be on a less promising trajectory.

Despite a number of commentators raising post-budget questions about the size of the government’s debts, Mr Morrison was adamant on Tuesday night that the government’s tax cuts and its high-profile capital works program were eminently affordable.

Unfortunately for the Hunter, none of the big infrastructure projects paraded by the prime minister are in our region,meaning that sorely needed improvements, led by the Glendale transport interchange, have again been ignored by this government.

This means that the main impact in this region is in the way the government’s spending and revenue choices impact on Hunter voters as individuals and families.

Given the region’s modest socio-economic profile, quite a few Hunter residents should benefit from the relatively modest tax cuts, but others may find themselves impacted by one or more of the welfare tightenings identified as major budget measures. With the next federal poll looming closer, the treasurer will have no doubt left himself some wiggle room when it comes to funding election promises. Equally importantly, he has brought down a budget that has scared no-one on the conservative side of politics, an act of loyal service to his less-than-secure prime minister.

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