The breakdown of revenue and expenses tucked away in Budget Paper No. 1 provides an interesting static overview of the major priority areas for the federal government.

Away from the gaudy press releases spruiked by lock-up minions, the raw numbers provide some sanity sans the hiss and fizz of budget night announceables. Just like the vast majority of legislation that sails through parliament uncontested and with zero media attention, the federal government spends a remarkably stable amount on different spending areas each year.

Social security and welfare is the perennial chart-topper with a third of total outlay. “Other purposes” comes in at number two and includes things like interest payments, and Cyclone Yasi disaster payments, the government’s contingency reserve and Crikey favourite: the nominal interest on unfunded liabilities for government super (think High Court judges).

Health tricks out the top three with 16% of total spending, leaving education, defence and “general public services” — comprising administrative costs like the tax office, the statistics bureau and the electoral commission.

Minnows down the scale include housing, recreation and culture, fuel and energy, agriculture, mining, and transport and communication.

On the revenue side, taxation unsurprisingly comprises the vast majority of income, despite Treasury craning its neck to note the $16.3 billion downward revision since the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook thanks to natural disasters and the legacy of the GFC.

Non-taxation elements make up just 6% of revenue and that’s despite a planned increase in 2011-12 of $780 million from offshore petroleum royalties.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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