5/16/2008

Australia's budget

Tax cuts in Labor's first budget

Australia's Labor government unveiled its first budget on May 13th. The new government's main goals in crafting the budget were to reward the electorate with tax cuts and to keep spending under control in order to curb inflation. A raft of tax breaks and benefits, especially for working-class households, will shift some of the tax burden to high-income earners while reducing taxes overall by A$46.7bn (US$43.5bn) over the next four years. At the same time, government spending is set to increase only by a modest 1.1%, resulting in a projected budget surplus of A$21.7bn. The government also plans to delay a significant portion of its spending until next year, when both economic growth and inflation are set to ease.

The 2008/09 budget represents the new Labor administration's first difficult policy test. Since taking office after winning the federal election in November, the prime minister, Kevin Rudd, has fulfilled several high-profile election pledges?including an official apology to Aborigines, ratification of the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse-gas emissions and a decision to reduce military involvement in Iraq. These measures demonstrated that the new government is more in touch with the electorate, but they were successes in part because they produced a "feel-good" effect without requiring immediate sacrifices. Crafting a budget that would fulfil campaign pledges to cut taxes while keeping inflation under control was a task of a different order, presenting genuine dilemmas as the government sought to balance the interests of various political constituencies and conflicting economic imperatives. ...



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[Source: The Economist: News analysis

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