(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was everywhere on the weekend, with a flurry of media appearances to spruik this week's federal budget. This budget will be a critical one (isn't it always?) -- a chance for Frydenberg to map out Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Depending on when Scott Morrison chooses to go to the polls, it could well be the last budget before an election.

A look at the rhetoric from the Coalition so far tells a key story of what this budget means: the government is trying to strike a balance between optimism about the recovery and its own impulse to pursue a surplus. It has left Labor with little wriggle-room.

What’s Frydenberg said?

One of Frydenberg’s first big statements of intent in a speech last month was to rule out any “pivots to austerity”. It was quite an admission from a treasurer open about his adoration for Thatcher and Reagan, a sign that big-spending measures like JobKeeper, which went against everything the Liberal Party traditionally stood for, have worked.