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Federal budget 2022: Josh Frydenberg promises cash splash for households with billions on offer

Sarah Martin reports in The Guardian (29.3.22) on Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s 2022 federal budget, promising cash handouts and financial incentives months short of an election.

‘Josh Frydenberg is pegging his government’s re-election chances on a budget cash splash fuelled by a “remarkable” economic rebound, with $8.6bn promised for Australian households, and billions of dollars of new spending for the regions, defence and infrastructure.

‘As the government prepares to kickstart its campaign for a May election within days, Tuesday’s budget includes an extra tax cut for 10 million low and middle income workers worth up to $420, and a $250 one-off cash payment for pensioners and concession card holders aimed at softening the blow of rising inflation. These measures will cost a combined $5.6bn.

‘In addition, the government will also halve the fuel excise for six months – which is now set at 44 cents a litre – saving about $15 on the average price of a tank of petrol, at a cost to the budget of about $3bn.

‘… The budget documents show the underlying cash balance has improved $38.1bn in 2022-23, and by $114.6bn over the four years to 2025-26. But while the government has banked most of this to improve the budget bottom line, the total cost of policy decisions is $17.2bn next year and $30.4bn over the four years to 2025-26.’

View from The Hill: if money talks, the government has the megaphone out

Michelle Grattan writes in The Conversation (29.3.22) about the Coalition’s 2022 federal budget suggesting that it is ‘unashamedly’ designed to deliver voters plenty of pre-election sweeteners.

‘When Josh Frydenberg says his key cost-of-living budget measures are “temporary” and “targeted”, he’s precisely right, though the reasons are more opportunistic than he’d spruik publicly.

‘He says it’s all about giving help when it’s needed while not baking in long-term spending.

‘But actually, and equally, the measures are aimed squarely at the imminent election, and firmly directed to purchasing votes. If money talks, the government has taken up the megaphone.

‘This is a budget for the instant – unashamedly an election bribe, and unconcerned when that involves pursuing some poor policy.’

Labor’s budget reply goes big on aged care, similar on much else

Stephen Bartos writes in The Conversation (31.3.22) about the federal budget reply speech from Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, highlighting Labor’s promises to boost aged care spending.

‘In most years, the opposition leader’s budget reply passes virtually unnoticed. By convention, it is delivered two days after the budget.

‘It’s different when an election is imminent. Then it becomes a statement of priorities about what the opposition would do differently if it wins government.

‘There is hardly ever a difference between government and opposition on the broad directions of spending and taxing – and for that matter, rarely much difference on tax and spending between one budget and the next.

‘… Opposition leader Anthony Albanese’s Thursday night speech in reply is no exception. Differences between the parties lie not in macroeconomic settings or in the amount of spending, but in what it is spent on. The centrepiece is an aged care package with five parts.’

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