Facing an election within a year, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has delivered a big-spending, high-debt budget with plenty of winners.

There are spending commitments for mental health, the NDIS, small business, infrastructure, skills and training and the vaccine rollout.

Some 10 million workers will pocket another tax offset of up to $1080, and the government is hopeful they’ll return the favour by spending that money to fire up the pandemic recovery.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg during the Budget speech in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday 11 May 2021. fedpol Photo: Alex Ellinghausen (Sydney Morning Herald)

The Treasurer declared “Australia’s economic engine is roaring back to life”, but while he noted it’s not all down to luck, he has been blessed with record iron ore prices boosting the Budget balance sheets.

Even so, propping up the economy during the worst of the COVID-19 crisis has not come cheap. The Budget is $161 billion in the red this financial year, and net debt has soared to $729 billion.

The task of fiscal repair has been left for future financial blueprints, or at least until the next election is run and won.

Two problems in particular have been causing the government political pain: the broken aged care system, and criticism over its treatment of women’s issues.

The Coalition has thrown billions at both, hoping to neutralise them and improve its standing with voters.

Mr Frydenberg is hoping the accelerating vaccine rollout is back on track for good, because the Budget assumes all Aussies who want a jab will have received their two doses by the end of the year.

But the government isn’t taking any chances in protecting against the COVID threat, assuming international borders will stay shut for at least another year, meaning more heartache for industries like tourism, agriculture and higher education.

So Fortress Australia remains, but at some point, there will need to be a long-term strategy for living with the virus.

Read all of 9News.com.au’s Federal Budget 2021 coverage here:



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