The budgetary outlook is quite different to a year ago. Large write-downs in forecast tax receipts have significantly redrawn the starting point for 2013‑14 and beyond. At the same time the Government has needed to find new savings to cover the cost of some large new commitments in the form of the Gonski reforms to education and the national disability insurance scheme.
In the Budget documents, the Government reports that its policy is to slow the pace of fiscal consolidation. With the economy forecast to run a little below trend over the next year or so and with the peak in resources sector investment approaching, the Government has decided that now is not the time to be making larger expenditure cuts. Accordingly, the Budget is now forecast to generate a small surplus at the end of the forward estimates period, which depends largely on government revenue recovering as economic conditions improve.
While the budgetary position may have changed, many of the longer-term economic, social and environmental challenges facing Australia remain. The role of the budget in meeting these challenges and the need to balance community expectations about what it wants government to deliver and how much it is prepared to pay will no doubt continue to be keenly debated both inside and outside Parliament. The Parliamentary Library hopes that this brief will help contribute to an informed debate.
The Parliamentary Library has produced its annual Budget Review to assist parliamentarians consider the key issues posed by the 2013‑14 Budget. The first article, Budget 2013‑14 – Overview and Commentary, steps readers through the context for this year’s Budget; the Government’s budget strategy; the fiscal outlook; and reactions from business and community groups. The other articles examine key measures that cover a wide range of areas across all portfolios.
As with previous Budget Reviews, this year’s has been prepared under time pressures with a view to making it available to parliamentarians as soon as possible. While care has been taken to ensure that the articles are accurate and balanced, they are based on information that was publicly available at the time of preparation. The articles do not intend to make value judgements about the relative importance of different measures or provide a comprehensive assessment of the Budget.
Parliamentarians are invited to raise points requiring amplification or clarification directly with the research specialist concerned and general comments on papers are also welcome. Any other feedback should be forwarded to me.
Dr Dianne Heriot
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