“Tonight we meet the highest standards of responsible economic management,” says Wayne Swan as he delivers his third Budget speech to Parliament as we go to press.

Sure the Treasurer has tickets on himself, but he’s earned the right to crow a little.

What a difference a year makes.

“We do not easily forget this time last year, when we faced the grimmest set of global economic conditions since the Great Depression,” said Swan.

The international economy remains in crisis, with last week’s Wall Street drop and a crippled Greece propped up by the EU and the IMF.

By comparison, our escape, relatively unscathed, seems near miraculous.

It’s not, but we’re undeniably sitting pretty, writes Professor John Quiggin in our special Budget edition tonight: “The capacity to use monetary and fiscal policy in response to some unexpected future shock will be enhanced by a rapid return to budget surplus and neutral settings for monetary policy.”

We boast our own set of vulnerabilities, the housing bubble being one, but for now, the giant economic gamble that the government took last year has paid off.

Now let’s see if standing on that record alone, without any of the usual bells and whistles that come with an election year Budget, can pay off politically for Swan and co.

Peter Fray

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