Josh Frydenberg reveals shrinking deficit in budget outcome


Josh Frydenberg has handed down the final budget outcome with results showing a shrinking deficit to just $690 million.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has praised the final budget outcome for beating forecasts as the results showed the deficit has shrunk to $690 million.

The budget results far surpassed expectations of a $4.2 billion deficit forecast in April and compared to a $10.1 billion shortfall the previous financial year.

Mr Frydenberg lauded the $13.8 billion improvements to the bottom line - calling the result a "balanced budget". 

“The Budget has returned to balance for the first time in 11 years,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters in Canberra.

“A $13.8 billion improvement on what was forecast when the budget was first handed down … and a $3.5 billion improvement on what I announced in April.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

Deloitte Access Economics chief economist Chris Richardson said budget recovery was "travelling quite fast", despite a slowdown in the Australian economy. 

"We as a nation as a nation are on track for a surplus and have been for some time," he said. 

"[But] the figures today also show there is continuing pressure on the Australian economy, wage growth is weak and consumers are being cautious."  

Mr Frydenberg said economic growth under the government had created an extra 300,000 jobs, "well above" figures forecast in the 2018-19 budget.  

"The final budget outcome further demonstrates the government's economic plan is working to create more jobs and ensure Australians get the essential services they rely on.”

“The real story today is how more people in jobs … more people in jobs and fewer people on welfare.” 

Deloitte Access Economics Director Chris Richardson at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra.
Deloitte Access Economics Director Chris Richardson at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra.

It is the sixth deficit in a row for the coalition government, but a surplus is forecast for 2019/20.

Higher than expected iron ore prices, increasing corporate profits and managed government spending were behind the improved figures.

Mr Richardson said a slowdown of China's economy had helped bolster the budget outcome figures. 

"As China has slowed the politicians there have insisted on a stimulus, which means construction, which needs Australian coal and iron ore."

"They are buying up big [and] that helps that bit of the Australian economy, which pays extra tax revenue."

But there remain concerns around restrained economic growth in the context of global economic headwinds.

Real GDP grew by 1.9 per cent over the financial year, softer than the 3 per cent forecast in the 2018/19 budget.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg speaks during a press conference.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg speaks during a press conference.

Mr Richardson said a stronger budget result would help shield against a potential economic downturn.

"The key bit of goods news in a better budget is that if there is a crisis, we'll be well-positioned to use the budget to help fight that."

"The improvement in the budget has actually partly been luck, other than Canberra figuring out how to do some compromises and repair the budget."

Mr Frydenberg and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann rejected assertions the budget position was supported by a $4.6 billion underspend in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

“Every single cent of demand under the NDIS will be met by this government,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“Our strong fiscal management has put the Budget on a sustainable trajectory, ensuring that we can guarantee the essential services."

 Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (left) and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (left) and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

In response, Opposition Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the improved budget position was not be driven by the Morrison government’s economic management.

“The government has nothing to crow about today, Josh Frydenberg shouldn’t be patting himself on the back for these numbers,” he said.

“Even with a $4.6 billion underspend on the NDIS, and higher iron ore prices, and a low dollar and billions of dollars in extra taxes the government still has a budget in deficit.”

Senator Cormann said the government had doubled spending on the NDIS compared to the previous year. 

"The messages is this: we continue to implement the NDIS as fast as we can," Senator Cormann said.

Employment grew by 2.6 per cent through the year to June 2019 in the budget outcome.

It comes as Australia's unemployment rate rose in August as growth in employment was outpaced by the increase, amid a slow down in the economy.  

With AAP

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