• Hannah Phillips

The Week in Politics: The Treasurer Addresses the Australian Business Economists

Scott Morrison spoke to Australian Business Economists on Thursday about the objectives for the budget and told his audience that the economy was doing better than anticipated in the Mid-year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO).

The Treasurer pointed to the fact that more jobs were being created than at any time since statistics have been kept.

Last week the International Monetary Fund upgraded its forecasts. The economy is shaking off the hangover of the mining investment boom.

The Turnbull government is building a stronger economy. One element of this is the $75 billion rolling infrastructure fund.

It has also funded a defence industry programme and reformed the financial sector. It’s increasing funding to schools, hospitals and the NDIS.

He said a stronger economy allows for a stronger budget. Tax receipts are running 4.2% higher than forecast in MYEFO.

At the same time, real expenditure growth has been held below 2% which is the lowest rate of growth in 50 years.

The budget will be another responsible budget which will see the government living within its means.

The number of working age Australians relying on welfare is at the lowest level in 35 years.

In the circumstances it is possible to waive the extra Medicare levy to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The budget situation has now changed, creating new options for dealing with funding for the NDIS.

The gap in funding can be made up from consolidated revenue.

The government believes that the way to build a strong economy is by ensuring that the tax system does not become too big an imposition on businesses and individuals.

The government has adopted a policy that tax should not exceed 23.9% of GDP. In contrast Labor has proposed that tax should reach 25.7% of the economy.

The Treasurer said a regular refrain is that business does not pay tax. However the truth is that the top fifty companies pay most of the business tax collected.

Increasing taxes on business limits the contribution that these businesses can make to the economy.

The top 4.1% of individual taxpayers pay 30% of the total income tax paid.

At the same time 40% of households pay no net tax. This gives the lie to claims that the economy is unfair.

The Australian economy is fair and the objective at the present time should be to promote growth.

The politics of envy will not lead to the growth of the economy.Both the government and Labor have now announced that they will drop the levy to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme which has caused considerable anxiety among disability advocates who are concerned that the scheme will not be properly funded.

However, after the speech, the Treasurer addressed a press conference at which he gave an assurance that the NDIS would be fully funded.

From the Gallery • Cameron and Milton Dick jumped on the WayneTrain this week. Showing their backing of Wayne Swan the Former Gillard Government Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister for President of the Australian Labor Party. The backing was part of the launch of Swanny4Pres Campaign launch for Mr Swan in Brisbane. Mr Swan is taking on incumbent President and Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Mark Butler MP.

• On Thursday the Attorney-General Christian Porter announced the government commences a merit selection process for the position of Race Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

• Both the National Day of the Netherland”s Kings Day and South Africa’s Freedom Day were held with receptions at their respective Embassies in Canberra this week.

• The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop addressed the Liberal Party of Victoria’s 165th State Council at Melbourne Park Function Centre at Batman Ave in Melbourne.

• Barnaby Joyce hasn’t been sitting on his hands since his retirement to the back bench: Sydney publishing house New Holland announced on Monday that his autobiography, a “warts and all” account of his “personal story” and “his commitment to people in the bush,” would be released in August. It’s estimated (by whom is still unclear) that the former Deputy Prime Minister would have pocketed an advance of $25,000 to write his memoirs on which the publisher would need to generate about 7500 sales to see it in the black if copies sell for about $40 each.

•The Future Fund, established in 2006 to help fund the superannuation of Commonwealth public servants, leapt to a total of $140.8 billion at the end of March this year, exceeding all its timeframe benchmarks, including, for example, achieving a return of 8.5% over ten years, well in excess of its target of 6.7%. In a portfolio update released on Tuesday the Fund revealed that investment returns had added more than $80 billion to the $60.5 billion in original contributions made by the former Howard government. Fund Chairman Peter Costello reassured public servants that “the board remains alert to a range of uncertainties and risks.” What a comfort for them.

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