The numbers are flowing thick and fast. $42b stimulus packages. $22.5b deficit. 7% unemployment. 1% growth. The illusion of precision and control. But we’re through the looking glass now. Australia will be in deficit, and for the foreseeable future.

Still, the Government has swung hard in an effort to prop up demand and employment. Handing out $11b in bonuses is unlikely to garner too much praise from economists, but on past evidence a fair proportion of it will make its way into retailers’ tills. And the Government has searched for areas with the perfect combination of rapid spending and lasting benefit, and if our school infrastructure isn’t the gravest infrastructure crisis we face, the Government’s $14b investment there benefit our children for decades to come.

Boosting our housing stock, correctly a Rudd priority, will also yield lasting benefits for a country that will, it is to be hoped, maintain strong immigration levels despite the recession. Energy efficiency measures are a welcome step forward from a Government seemingly terrified of committing to real action on climate change.

And then there’s the Budget — or another Budget — in May. By then, today’s deficit figures will probably look decidedly conservative, especially if the Government is serious about pension reform. But the Government won’t die wondering about whether Australia can resist the recessionary tide.

What are your first impressions of the Government’s package?
And what will the RBA do later this afternoon?

Have your say at our Rates, Rudd and Stimulus Liveblog.

And come back mid afternoon to the website and the blog for first thoughts on the RBA rate cut.

Peter Fray

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