Bernard Keane in Crikey wrote exactly what I was going to regarding Wayne Swan’s use of a variety of timing fiddles to keep the 2012-13 Budget in surplus. This was a silly target, to which the government unwisely committed itself when the recovery from the financial crisis looked a bit stronger than they had expected in 2009, and also stronger than it has actually turned out to be. The sensible thing would have been to return to the original schedule of a surplus by 2014-15 (IIRC). But with an Opposition led by an economically illiterate attack dog like Tony Abbott, and a press gallery that’s not much better, that wasn’t an option. So, the next best thing is to shuffle payments and receipts to generate a surplus this year, at the expense of a smaller surplus next year.
I’ll talk a bit more about the substantive measures in the mini-budget (some good and some bad) when I get a little more time free.