Coalition heads to the final commitment ceremony one last time with the engagement ring in hand

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All eyes are turning to Canberra as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg looks set to hand down his first Budget this evening, and a return to Budget surplus for the first time in a decade. While economic headwinds sit Australia’s horizon, the Government will enjoy the fruits of strong export figures and rising commodity prices that will allow it to claim the mantle of better economic managers for delivering the return to surplus, while providing plenty of goodies to voters.

Call us cynical, but for the second time in three years, a Federal Budget will be viewed as a political statement as the Government races to an election by the end of the coming weekend under the platform of – “A stronger economy and a secure future". Tonight's Budget will firm the battle lines for the next six weeks of political campaigning.

While an earlier than normal Budget has limited the leaks to date, here’s what we know so far:

Splashing the cash to the electorate

  • A one-off Energy Assistance Payment of $75 for singles/$125 for couples for 3.9 million Australians who receive a number of government payments.

  • The second tranche of the Government’s legislated tax cuts are expected to be brought forward from July 2022 to July 2019.

  • The instant asset write-off for small businesses will be extended to June 2020 and will increase from $20,000 to $25,000.

A focus on climate change and power prices

  • Enhanced funding of $2 billion for the Climate Solutions Fund (formerly known as the Emissions Reduction Fund).

  • $1.4 billion to build Snowy Hydro 2.0.

  • $56 million for the Tasmanian Battery of the Nation and Marinus Link projects.

  • $10 million business case for energy projects in north and central Queensland, alongside a shortlist of 12 further power projects which could be underwritten.

Infrastructure spending to reduce congestion in cities and show love for the regions

  • An additional $1 billion for the $3.5bn Roads of Strategic Importance program — to improve access to regiona­l and interstate highways over the next decade.

  • $2.2 billion road safety program to reduce the road toll, including an extra $1.1 billion for Roads to Recovery and $550 million for the Black Spot Program.

  • A $2.1 billion investment in Victorian roads and rail.

  • The Government is also expected to top up the Urban Congestion Fund.

A range of essential services will receive a boost

  • Injection of $850 million into the NDIS to increase price caps on a range of services.

  • $496 million for Victorian cancer research, services and facilities.

  • $400 million to expand the Health Care Homes and encourage GPs to enrol elderly patients with chronic disease.

  • $220 million from the Medical Research Future Fund to develop the 10-year Mission for Cardiovascular Health.

  • Health plans for each state and territory are expected to be announced. ACT was the first cab off the rank with $52 million announced for a range of local projects. 

  • $200 million to index MBS items for ultrasound and x-rays to reduce out of pocket costs from July 1 2020.

  • $150 million funding package to encourage the development of women's change facilities at sporting grounds.

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Bridget Jung