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Budget splashes cash, with $17.7 billion for aged care and a pitch to women

Michelle Grattan writes in The Conversation (11.5.21) about the Coalition government’s 2021-22 federal budget, highlighting its big-spending commitments in an effort to stimulate economic recovery.

‘The Morrison government has brought down a big-spending, expansionary budget that forecasts Australia’s unemployment rate will fall to 4.75% in two years time.

‘But Australia’s international borders won’t be properly open for at least a year, according to the budget’s assumptions.

‘“Australia is coming back,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told parliament on Tuesday night. “Employment is at a record high, with 75,000 more Australians in jobs than before the pandemic.”

‘… The centrepiece of Frydenberg’s third budget – which had been largely pre-announced by the government – is a $17.7 billion aged care package, spent over five years and including 80,000 extra home care packages.

‘Frydenberg said this would make a total of 275,000 packages available. The present waiting list is 100,000.

‘The aged care package is designed as long term structural reform after the royal commission found the system in a parlous state and needing a comprehensive overhaul.’

Make no mistake, this is a keeping options open for an election this year budget

Katharine Murphy reports in The Guardian (11.5.21) on reaction to the Coalition government’s budget, suggesting its big-spending promises are geared towards the coming federal election.

‘So, what does Tuesday night’s budget tell us about the government’s election planning? It tells us the government hopes that it can get the bulk of the Australian population vaccinated by the end of the year. It also hopes that the economy, which has surprised on the upside thus far, will keep picking up steam over the next 12 months.

‘This strong forecast pick-up in the economy tapers off in the budget out-years. Tick. Tock. Goes the election clock.

‘This budget tells me that the government is absolutely leaving open the option of going to the polls late in 2021. I’m not sure I’d go as far as this being an election budget, but this is, absolutely, a keeping your options open budget.

‘As well as being an options wide open budget, Tuesday night is also a make-good budget. … Morrison wants to use Tuesday night’s budget to lock in his political recovery, and to that end, the budget has been crafted as an official expression of emotional intelligence.’

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