Federal budget 2017: Scott Morrison makes promise of better days for government

Treasurer Scott Morrison has described the 2017-18 budget as "honest", attempting to please first home buyers, pensioners and Global Positioning System, but it's set to hit the hip pockets of big banks and high wage earners.

Morrison said the wider budget measures, which included the big bank levy and addition tax pressure on large multinationals, would put "downward pressure of the cost of living" for everyday Australians, saying it was "fair and reasonable" that the nation's largest profiteers contribute to "fixing the budget".

The federal government has projected a deficit of $29.4 billion for 2017-18, down from its projection previous year.

Now in what looks like a significantly more generous Budget than before from the Coalition government, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appears to be trying to reverse that negative reputation and make a comeback from tepid polling and a near miss at the 2016 election which severely weakened his government.

Indeed the biggest revenue measure, more than $8 billion, hits nearly all Australian taxpayers - a 0.5 percent increase in the Medicare levy, created to close the funding gap in the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

It is thought to be a bid to bury the disastrous 2014 Budget once and for all, the Budget where former Treasurer Joe Hockey infamously declared "the age of entitlement is over".

Spending on hospitals will increase by $2.8 billion over four years. But he is trying to ease the sting of a tax rise by assuring voters the money will go directly to paying for health and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Morrison said the budget had a "fair and responsible path" back to balance, which is due to be reached in 2020-21, with a projected surplus of A$7.4 billion, somewhat higher than previously estimated.

While Morrison has cautioned the banks that their customers "already don't like them", telling them to "prove (the customers) wrong and pony up to help fix the budget", bankers have warned the government that it was likely that the levy will be passed onto customers.

Defence spending will hit two per cent of GDP by 2020/21.

Morrison outlined plans to deliver A$75 billion in infrastructure funding and financing over the next years as the base of Australia's next growth wave.

With the latest Newspoll showing the government trailing the opposition Labor Party at 52 points to 48 points, the budget contained measures to appease an electorate angry that a surging property market means they are unlikely to achieve the great Australian dream of owning their home.

A 2.5 per cent efficiency dividend will be imposed on universities over the next two years.

Employers will pay an annual levy of up to AU$1,800 ($1,322) for every foreign worker they employ on a temporary visa.

The hard work is done for now; it's time for them to begin the hard sell.

They will be able from July 1 to salary sacrifice into their superannuation account, separate from their compulsory superannuation contributions.

The $20,000 instant asset tax write-off will be extended for another year for businesses with a turnover of up to $10 million.

Morrison has hinted at a package to tackle affordability and help first home buyers, while foreign investors could be slugged with new fees if they leave their investment properties empty. The forecast deficit for 2017-18 is A$29.4 billion. "It's $8 billion. A tax increase which affects nearly every working Australian", he said.

Vanessa Coleman

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