It may be Stockholm syndrome, or possibly the subliminal messaging of about 12,000 pages of budget documents, but I feel an overwhelming urge to tell you that the Budget will return to surplus “on time and as promised”. The government keeps its promises. As promised. They promised a surplus. You’ve got a surplus. As promised.
The surplus will be an itty bitty $1.5 billion dollars at the end of the 2012-13 financial year (as promised). Hopefully. So long as we don’t have any natural disasters or another GFC. In which case, all bets are off.
You see, things can go awry over the course of a financial year. Last year, Wayne Swan forecast that by June this year, Australia would have a deficit of $22 billion. It’s now sitting at $44.4 billion. Tiny blow out.
As the Treasurer told journalists (captives) this afternoon: “You can’t freeze an economy in time.” He says the instability in Europe, along with the natural disasters of 2011 put unforeseen pressure on the budget. So the sigh of relief from some in the Labor Party may be premature. They’ve delivered the surplus – or at least the projection of a surplus. Now we all have to wait until next year to see if it eventuates.
But there’s no denying, Treasury has done some artful slicing to find $33.6 billion in savings.
SLASH AND BURN
Businesses will miss out on a promised one percent tax cut. The cut was part of the mining tax package, but the government has abandoned it because it was too hard to push through the parliament because the Coalition and the Greens opposed it. Instead, they’ve accepted defeat, and the $4.7 billion windfall that comes with it.
Defence also cops it, with $5.4 billion saved through ‘reprogramming and efficiencies’ – which means, ‘putting things off ’til later’.
The government also found $2.9 billion by delaying foreign aid increases for a year. A further $2 billion has been saved by scrapping a plan for simpler ‘tick and flick’ tax returns, previously promised.
This year, the Treasurer says he’s ‘gone into bat for working families’. The budget has a heavy focus on “cost of living” and “spreading the benefits of the boom”. The mining boom that is. Black gold. Texas Tea… wait, this is Canberra, not Beverly Hills. Shame.
Mums and Dads should be happy with the ‘family’ theme: Child care, family payments, schoolkids … they’re all winners in this budget, courtesy of the mining boom.