Federal Budget 2022: Date, what it will include and what we know so far

Put fresh batteries in your calculator and plug the ears for political spin, because it’s that time of year again: the Federal Budget is just hours away.

Set to be handed down at 7.30 pm AEDT, the Federal Budget is the government’s crown jewel of unopposed policy that lays out its fiscal strategy for the year ahead.

But this year, things are different.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Minister for Finance Simon Birmingham with last year’s Budget. (Getty)

The 2022 Budget must walk a fine line between spending enough to win over voters who are flirting with voting Labor – while not spending too much to deepen the chasm left by COVID-19.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not yet called the next federal election, but AEC laws tell us that it must be in the first half of 2022.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has forecast that he thinks polling day will be Saturday, May 14.

So what difference does an election make?

Traditionally Federal Budgets are prime campaign material: an entire night where journalists from all outlets have at least six uninterrupted hours with government policy spin (and no internet resources to fact check them).

If Mr Albanese is correct with his crystal ball date of May 14, that means the Morrison Government will be hoping to ride the post-Budget goodwill train for six weeks until Aussies head to the polls.

It will address the cost of living

Petrol prices are sky high. Grocery costs are soaring. Rate hikes are looming.

Insurance premiums are becoming so untenable that many are choosing not to insure at all.

Once a hopeful future, inflation is fast becoming a dirty word.

The cost of living is front of mind for most Australians and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has already promised that the 2022 Budget will address that.

Hinting at possible measures in several media interviews, the Treasurer has made it clear we’re likely to see more tax offset lump sum payments, an increase in childcare subsidies and potentially even a lowering of the fuel excise, currently set at 44.2 cents per litre.

190518 Federal election 2019 Scott Morrison casts vote Sydney Sutherland Shire Politics news Australia
A Federal Budget is an ideal platform to kick-start six weeks of election campaigning. (AAP)
Petrol prices are going up ahead of the long weekend.
The cost of fuel is soaring, and its ordinary Australians who are feeling the pinch. (AAP)

We’re deep in the red, but doing better than expected

COVID-19 has been shockingly expensive.

From JobKeeper to JobSaver – and a whole host of prefix-based policies in between – the pandemic has forced the government to spend far more than it an anticipated.

That’s on top of unprecedented natural disaster funding as one million Australians claim the government’s disaster payments following devastating flooding on the east coast.

As a result, it’s expected that the 2022 Federal Budget will hand down a deficit of around $67 billion.

That’s an enormous amount of debt – but it’s far better than forecasts that anticipated a loss of around $98.9 billion.

Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson has said soaring commodity prices and company tax has provided a handy windfall for the government just prior to the Budget being handed down.

“Economic recovery continues to repair the budget,” Mr Richardson said.

“COVID costs are mostly over, job gains are huge, and key commodity prices (including iron ore, coal and gas) are stratospheric.”

Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson has said the booming economy is repairing damage done to the Budget. (9News)

What does all this mean for me?

For the average punter like you and me, this year’s Budget is likely to be a moderate (read: not outrageous) cash splash that will contain a few headline-grabbing goodies that will appeal to the widest voter base of families, small business owners and middle-income earners.

Australia’s economy is booming, but the cost of living is soaring and the government has considerable work to do the repair the hole left in the budget of more than two years worth of pandemic control.

But, with an election just a month or two away, we could see caution thrown to the wind and the nation’s credit card used to buy the best presents for the largest group of people.

“Australia’s dumbest budget decisions have occurred at times when a government was headed for an election while being way behind in the polls,” Mr Richardson said.

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“With the government trailing badly in the polls, there’s a risk the next few weeks see similar promises that are, frankly, bad.

“To be fair, the chance of a slew of huge new promises is probably small.

“But since there’s nothing more skittish than an Opposition leader with an almost unbeatable lead, so Labor would be pretty likely to give the thumbs up to any such promises. Sigh.”

Reference-www.9news.com.au

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