Joe Hockey has won praise for his second budget but faces a tough challenge getting savings through the Senate.
The federal treasurer on Wednesday morning was set to embark on the traditional post-budget round of media interviews.
Having announced $5 billion of tax relief for small business and farmers and $4.4 billion in support for families, it will be an easier sales pitch than last year’s effort.
That budget almost led to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his numbers man losing their jobs.
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However, Labor won’t let the government off the hook.
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen says Mr Hockey has doubled the deficit in a single year and kept in place the unfairness of the 2014 budget – the $80 billion easing of hospital and school funding, university deregulation and cuts to family payments.
The Greens called it small-minded and say big miners, banks and wealthy superannuants should carry more of the burden.
Mr Hockey described the budget as unleashing the nation’s potential and urged business to make the most of it and lower interest rates to kickstart the economy.
A deficit of $35.1 billion for 2015/16 defied economists’ expectations and the government still expects to return to surplus in 2019/20.
But the jobless rate will stubbornly remain at six per cent or over until 2018/19.
Small business will get a corporate tax rate cut of 1.5 per cent, an annual five per cent tax discount of up to $1000 a year for unincorporated businesses and an immediate tax deduction for all items purchased by a small business up to $20,000.
Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory will share in a new $5 billion northern Australia infrastructure fund providing cheap loans for new ports and other infrastructure.
A $4.4 billion families package includes a simplified childcare subsidy to start from July 2017, with a top-up fee for disadvantaged children.
Suspending the dole for under-30s for six months has been dumped and replaced with a four-week waiting period for under-25s.
Changes to the age pension assets test will start from January 1, 2017.
Fifty-five road projects will start construction in 2015 but Victoria’s East-West Link remains on the table despite opposition from the Andrews state government.
Senate crossbenchers, who will be crucial to passing key parts of the budget, have been generally positive.
But the government may need to rethink some savings measures.
Unions said the budget lacked a plan to create jobs, while business groups said it would be a shot in the arm to small business and lift confidence and investment.