Treasurer Jim Chalmers drops budget bombshell, possible surplus in sight

May 05, 2023
Possible budget surplus in over 15 years causes a stir, but Treasurer Jim Chalmers remains tight-lipped. Source: Getty

Hold on to your wallets, folks! Treasurer Jim Chalmers is about to drop a budget bombshell that could rock the nation.

While Tuesday’s upcoming budget is making headlines, insiders are whispering about Australia’s first budget surplus in over 15 years.

According to Sky News political editor Andrew Clennell, the stars are aligning for a cash windfall that could be fueled by skyrocketing tax revenue from iron ore, coal, and gas, plus record-low unemployment rates.

Despite all the buzz, the Treasurer is playing his cards close to his chest, refusing to confirm or deny the tantalising prospect.

“Certainly there’ll be a substantial improvement this year because of a few things, not just commodity prices, but also lower unemployment and stronger wages growth,” he told ABC radio.

“But the numbers are still bouncing around a bit. There are still a couple of decisions to finalise and we don’t print the Budget until the weekend so it’s a bit premature.”

However, it seems that the surplus celebrations might not last for long, as Chalmers explains that the budget is expected to return to deficit due to a variety of factors.

“The other thing is even with this quite substantial near-term improvement in the Budget, the pressures on the Budget in the third and fourth and subsequent years are actually intensifying rather than easing,” he said.

“We’ve got a structural challenge in the Budget, which isn’t dealt with by this temporary improvement.”

According to Chalmers, it’s still too soon to say whether a surplus is a real possibility. He claims there are still a few details to finalise and that the budget won’t be printed until the weekend, so the public will just have to wait.

“But your broader point about whether or not there’s an improvement, there is – in the near term – a substantial improvement, but then a deterioration after that,” he said.

“And it is partly because of the prices that we’re getting for our exports, but also we are over-performing when it comes to the unemployment rate and when it comes to the beginnings of wages growth, which is very welcome, and that feeds into a better bottom line in the near term as well.”

News of the possible surplus comes just a day after it was announced that the upcoming Budget will reportedly see Labor committing $11.3 billion towards funding a substantial 15 per cent pay increase for aged care workers.

The significant investment is expected to draw more staff to the sector and will be a vital step forward towards the government’s commitment to improving the quality of aged care in Australia.

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