As predicted by the pundits, there were few surprises in Treasurer Wayne Swan’s 2013-14 Budget.
Going from a small surplus to a deficit of $18 billion in 2013-14 didn’t seem to raise many eyebrows given the ongoing revelations about the government’s over-optimistic estimates of revenue from the mining industry.
As for the nitty gritty of the budget, It seems to be more of a case of jam tomorrow and a bit of pain today.
The government is promising substantial investment in transport infrastructure in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney (a total of $5.9 billion), $9.8 billion for schools from 2014-15, a 10% increase in defense spending over 4 years, and $21.4 billion towards the construction of the National Broadband Network (again over a four year period).
However, what might hurt the government most in the forthcoming September 2013 General Election is the measures that will more immediately impact voters. Whatever the electorate might tell polling organisations, in the end, they usually vote with their wallets. Scrapping the cash payment to parents of newborns and capping family payments might not seem a big deal but hitting families is never a good idea in an election year. For those with older kids, higher education will also become more expensive because of $2.3 billion in cuts. Added to that is the 33% increase in the Medicare levy from 1.5% to 2.0%.
The so-called ‘double taxation’ of earnings of more than $100,000 of superannuation pensions will, while only applying to a small number of retirees, be another stick for the Opposition to beat the government.
Taking candy from the mouths of babes and pensioners? Not an auspicious start to an election campaign.