I hope everyone had a great break and snuck in some relaxation time, because you are going to need your wits about you this week.
It’s budget time, and while Scott Morrison has made it clear he is most definitely not Santa Claus, in what was quite possibly the most ridiculous own-goal in some time, the government is also looking to the next election. Which means budget goodies, in some form or other.
So far, it is all of the tax and infrastructure kind. Big spending infrastructure announcements have been dripping out over the last couple of weeks – the Melbourne airport rail line and $3.2bn in WA among them – but really, tax has been what has been dominating the agenda.
This morning, Morrison unveiled his plan to try and bring Labor to heel on taxes, through this story in the Oz.
He has described it as a “speed limit” on taxes, and by enshrining a 23.9 % tax-to-GDP ratio in legislation, it either makes Labor have to repeal it or maintain it.
Paul Karp has this follow:
The treasurer, Scott Morrison, describes it as the “speed limit” on taxes but a new paper says the Coalition’s 23.9% tax-to-GDP cap is an “arbitrary” limit that will push the government to make austerity cuts to fund new programs.
While a dramatic improvement in revenues has given the Coalition room to ditch the planned $8bn Medicare levy increase and offer income-tax cuts, the Australia Institute has warned in a briefing note that the combination of a limit on tax and a surplus target will necessitate spending cuts in future.
The paper echoes concerns from the shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen, about eroding the revenue base, as Labor prepares to match “targeted tax relief” and promise larger surpluses by raising revenue in other areas.
But along with tax and infrastructure, “surplus” has returned to the buzzword pool. Labor’s promise to bring the budget to surplus earlier, while increasing spending and cutting taxes, thanks to its $68bn franking credits overhaul, seems to have sent the government hunting for ways it too can bring on a surplus earlier.
It looks like better than expected revenue may help with that. But only just.
All will be revealed tomorrow evening. But first, strap in for a day of speculation and snark, as both sides prepare to line the budget battlefield.
Burning comments can find their way to me @amyremeikis on Twitter, or you’ll find updates in the story section of @pyjamapolitics on Instagram. You’ll find the amazing Mike Bowers on Twitter at @mpbowers or his gram, @mikepbowers. I’ll be lurking in the comment section when I have time, so play nicely.
I hope, as always, that you have had your coffee.
Ready? Let’s get started!