(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

It is a happy accident that the coming budget is likely to be the last before the next federal election. The government has avoided the temptation to cut spending in the name of fiscal responsibility. That would have put post-pandemic economic recovery at risk.

For a while it seemed as if the treasurer was contemplating “budget repair” -- that is, keeping new spending to modest levels and taking the windfall from better-than-expected economic growth to the bank.

Fiscal conservatives would have applauded such a budget as a first step towards reducing a record government deficit. It would not have reduced Australia’s equally record debt (while the budget remains in deficit, each new deficit further adds to debt) but total debt would be lower than under alternative strategies.