mandate Josh Frydenberg
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

The federal budget will return to surplus in 2019-20, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg unveiling a surplus of $7 billion, the first since 2007, in addition to $20 billion worth of tax cuts over the forward estimates, billions in new infrastructure investment and spending targeted at spots of political trouble.

In a document light on any overarching narrative, but long on spending commitments designed to shore up the government’s vulnerabilities, the government has adopted a firefighter approach to its political troubles. Its aimed a hose of money at at-risk seats or areas where Labor is threatening it. Despite that, the government has kept its fiscal discipline relatively intact: new spends have been offset by savings elsewhere, with spending falling as a proportion of GDP -- though purists will lament the missed opportunity to return to surplus a year early and begin paying down debt.