Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has refused to put a timeline on a return to surplus and denied being the “best Labor treasurer since Paul Keating” after handing down a budget with a $161 billion deficit.
In an interview with 9News Political Editor Chris Uhlmann on Tuesday night, Mr Fyrdenberg insisted big-spending measures to give families tax cuts, cut childcare costs and create jobs made his 2021 package “very much a Liberal budget”.
Watch the full interview in the video player at the top of the page.
Before the pandemic upended government spending worldwide, the Coalition had prematurely celebrated putting the budget “back in black” with a surplus last year after what it termed Labor’s “debt and deficit disaster”.
But when repeatedly pressed by Uhlmann to put a timeline on a return to surplus, the Treasurer refused, pointing to the pandemic.
“This reflects the reality that we’re in, with the biggest economic shock since the Great Depression,” he said.
“More than 25 million Australians can be so proud of where their country is today through their contribution, both on the health front and the economic front.
“But there is a great deal of uncertainty. The job is not done. This budget seeks to secure that recovery.”
Mr Frydenberg also addressed the revelation international travel would remain low until mid-2020, saying that was a budget assumption, not a policy decision.