Scott Morrison’s third budget will be described in many ways in the next few weeks. But the best way of describing what it is, and what drives it, is as a reflection of the transformation of Australian politics since the Coalition returned to power in 2013.
Gone is all the naïve machismo of the early Abbott-Hockey period, with the belief that, if you just follow the formula pursued by the Howard government in its early years — lots of big painful cuts in the first year or two — all would be well.
Gone, too, is the fixation about debt and deficits. And gone is the hangover of the global financial crisis in the budget’s figures.
This is a budget that is almost wholly and solely about tax — or more accurately, tax cuts. No-one sees it as a budget of profound tax reform.
Highest spending levels since Gillard
For all intents and purposes, the Government has done nothing to either cut spending or increase it in this budget.
Mr Morrison was making lots of noise on Tuesday night about returning the budget to surplus and about how net debt is peaking in 2017-18. But any substantive improvements are still a long way away, in some cases close to a decade away.