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Treasurer says tonight’s Federal Budget will deliver for small business

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, good morning. Tonight’s Budget will demonstrate that growth is higher, unemployment is lower, and wages are strengthening. We will be banking the dividend of a stronger economy with a material improvement to the budget bottom line.

Deficits will be lower and debt as a share of the economy will peak earlier and lower than was previously forecast. Tonight’s Budget delivers for Australian families, for seniors, for small businesses, with cost‑of‑living relief now in a temporary, targeted and responsible way, with guaranteeing the essential services that Australians rely on, by putting in place a long‑term economic plan to create more jobs, and with further investments in defence and national security, reflecting the challenges that we now face.

In just a matter of weeks, the Australian people will go to the polls. They will face a clear choice between a Coalition led by Scott Morrison that has delivered one of the fastest economic recoveries anywhere in the world and has the plan for the future, and a Labor Party which puts all those gains at risk.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, almost a billion dollars worth of debt, with more handouts on the cards ‑ how is this a responsible Budget? How can you afford to provide more handouts given the debt scenario?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, Jonathan, what you’ll see tonight is a material improvement to the budget bottom line. We are banking that dividend of a stronger economy. Today, it’s been revealed that the unemployment rate will have a three in front of it for the first time in 50 years.

This is a remarkable achievement that belongs to 26 million Australians. We’ve avoided the scarring of the labour market which was so reminiscent of previous recessions in Australia in the ’80s and ’90s. We now have an unemployment rate which is very, very low, and we are banking that dividend.

Now, with cost of living, there are real pressures right now on Australians. It’s the number one topic around the kitchen tables of Australia. So, tonight, in a temporary, in a targeted, in a responsible way, we will provide cost‑of‑living relief.

QUESTION:

Would you be doing it if there wasn’t an election in a matter of weeks?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We would, of course, be providing cost‑of‑living relief given the circumstances that Australia now faces with higher‑than‑expected inflation ‑ indeed, it’s a global phenomenon ‑ with petrol prices rising above $2 a litre, and with the other challenges on Australian families.

QUESTION:

The petrol price has eased from its record last week. The oil price is down US$30 from its peak. There’s talks of the US releasing more from its reserves and China is likely to put a dent ‑ lockdowns have put a dent in that consumption. Is providing temporary assistance with petrol really appropriate, given it looks like things are now starting to ease?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, if you’re a family who needs your car to get to and from work, to drop your kids at school, if you’re a tradie who’s busy getting about their daily job, you are seeing the higher price for petrol and what it’s doing to your household pay and your take‑home pay. And so what we will be seeking to do in this Budget is provide cost‑of‑living relief for those Australians that are paying higher prices at the bowser.

QUESTION:

Is this a fistful of dollars for a fistful of votes, Treasurer?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

This is a responsible Budget with temporary, targeted measures designed to ease the cost‑of‑living pressures now, but importantly, Jonathan, a long‑term economic plan to create more jobs. We have a great opportunity now to even strengthen our economy further, to drive the unemployment rate lower, and to give Australians the future that they deserve. Thank you.

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