Wayne Swan is looking more Stepford wife than Bob the Builder. His mid-year budget update yesterday was largely an exercise in housekeeping – a massive spring clean to balance the budget books – rather than a major structural renovation to fix the fiscal house.
It detailed a whopping 76 policy decisions taken since the budget to either increase revenue or cut spending to keep the budget in surplus – just – this financial year. While economic growth is at its historic average and joblessness still relatively low, it is prudent for the government to return to surplus.
The turn around in the budget from a big deficit to a slim surplus is already taking heat out of the economy and paving the way for the Reserve Bank to keep interest rates lower than otherwise.
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