Prime Minister Scott Morrison has brought forward infrastructure spending but refuses to open the fiscal floodgates.
The delivery of a budget surplus is one of the Liberal Party’s key policies.
But with calls for the government to provide fiscal stimulus growing louder, Prime Minister Morrison has found himself in the tricky position of spending while trying to save.
“It’s critically important for Australia’s future financial resilience,” Mr Morrison said of the surplus on ABC Radio on Thursday morning.
“We are facing headwinds, not just now… but for years to come. And you don’t just go and erode all your financial resources at a time like this. What you do is make measured and careful decisions,” he said.
However, the government has brought forward $3.8 billion in infrastructure spending with the intention of revamping transport infrastructure and stimulating the economy – something that Mr Morrison claims will be done “within a surplus budget” and without new taxes.
By the end of next year, $1.8 billion will be spent on infrastructure.
Mr Morrison contrasted his “disciplined” approach with the “wasteful” cash payment stimulus provided by the Labour government directly after the GFC.
Mr Morrison has also flagged a revamp of environmental approval processes.
“Environmental approval processes for major projects are overly complex, duplicative and take too long,” Mr Morrison told the Business Council of Australia on Wednesday.
“It takes approximately three and a half years for a complex major project to navigate the state and Commonwealth environmental assessment process. It's estimated that this timeframe could be reduced by between six and 18 months through better use of technology.”
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