Scott Morrison Josh Frydenberg fiscal policy

The federal Liberals have long been the big spenders and big taxers of Australian politics. The Abbott government proved the worst of all -- inheriting a tax:GDP ratio from Labor of just over 21%, Abbott increased tax to 21.8%; inheriting a payments:GDP ratio of less than 24%, he pumped that up to over 26% before his own party dumped him. Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison lived up to the big-taxing traditions, with tax this year set to surge to over 23% of GDP. They have, however, managed to get payments back down to 24.6% at the end of 2017-18. That's still higher than Labor, but much better than Tony Abbott.

That effort, however, seems about to be tossed aside as a government desperate to make up ground lost in its leadership mayhem seeks to buy votes.