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Colin Brinsden and Tracey Ferrier
(Australian Associated Press)
Treasurer Scott Morrison has flagged the May budget will show the Turnbull government continues to live within in its means while investing to produce a strong economy.
“Australians continue to ensure their belts are tightened and the government will continue to do the same thing,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday, responding to a warning on the global outlook from the International Monetary Fund.
“We will continue to exercise that restraint which is necessary and will also continue to invest in what creates a stronger economy.”
The IMF in its latest World Economic Outlook said while the global economy is enjoying its strongest performance since the start of the decade, but warned the favourable conditions won’t last forever.
IMF economic counsellor Maurice Obstfeld said governments should seize the opportunity to bolster growth and take action to counter the next downturn.
“Now is the moment to get ready for leaner times,” he said in the report released in Washington on Tuesday.
“Readiness requires not only cautious and forward-looking management of monetary and fiscal policies, but also careful attention to financial stability.”
But opposition finance spokesman Jim Chalmers expects the treasurer’s May 8 budget will be just like his others.
“And that’s really the problem – a budget defined by cuts to hospitals and schools and pensions, and big handouts for multinationals and millionaires,” Dr Chalmers told reporters in Brisbane.
The government had enjoyed “rosy economic conditions” so it had no excuse for deficits and enormous growing debt that’s accumulated on its watch, he said.
He wants to see $700 million cuts to hospitals and $17 billion cuts to schools reversed, as well as tax hikes through a Medicare levy increase while handing out $65 billion in business tax cuts overturned.
He also wants a change of mind on some big so-called “zombie” measures which are attacking families and pensioners, especially the removal of energy supplement.