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Budget 2022: Your questions answered

Josh Frydenberg with question marks and Australian flags.
This is your guide to get you through budget week. (Source: Getty)

Next week, the Treasurer will hand down the Federal Government’s 2022 Budget.

If you‘re wondering what this talk of “deficits” and “fiscal policy” is all about, you’re not alone. It can be confusing.

Here are your top budget questions answered.

When will the Federal Budget be handed down?

The Federal Budget will be handed down on Tuesday, March 29, at 7:30pm.

The Budget is usually delivered in May but due to the timing of the federal election, the budget will come early this year.

Why is the Budget released at 7:30pm on a Tuesday?

Since 1994, the Federal Budget has generally been released on the second Tuesday night of May.

Elections and the COVID pandemic have pushed these dates around, but the 7:30pm Tuesday slot has not changed.

The Budget is released in the evening due to the potentially market-sensitive information it contains. But from midday until that time, the Treasurer will generally spend the time briefing advocacy groups and media on the material within the Budget.

According to University of Wollongong economics professor Simon Ville, the 7:30pm delivery is a practice that dates as far back as the beginning of Federation.

Where can I watch the Budget speech?

Several TV outlets will stream Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s Budget speech live, including the ABC.

You can also keep an eye on the onslaught of commentary on Twitter with the hashtag #Budget2022.

What is the Federal Budget and why should I care about it?

The Australian Government needs to budget to make sure it has enough money coming in through taxes and other revenue streams to cover all its spending on welfare, defence, infrastructure and more.

The Budget outlines how the Government plans to raise money and what they plan to spend it on.

For people living in Australia, the Budget outlines how much we will be paying in tax and, on the flip side, how well-resourced critical services will be, like the military, public housing and hospitals.

What is a budget surplus or deficit?

There’s either more money coming in than going out - a surplus - or more going out than coming in - a deficit. ​

When people talk about the budget “balance”, they are talking about the budget outcome and whether it’s a surplus or deficit.

Can the budget ever be balanced?

While a budget can be balanced - income coming in equals spending going out - not all economists and politicians agree that avoiding government debt is always the best option.

What does ‘fiscal policy’ mean?

This refers to the use of government spending and taxation to influence a country’s economic health.

What’s meant by ‘forward estimates’?

This is used to describe Australia’s budgeting system of forecasting the revenue, expenses and financial position for three years after the current budget year.

Why is information about the budget announced early?

Politicians may choose to reveal the contents of the budget early, usually to gain some kind of a political advantage over their opponents.

There’s already a lot of information about next week’s budget that’s been announced. Find out everything we already know here.

What’s the deal with the ‘lock-up’?

Budget day generally sees hundreds of journalists, economists and public interest groups file into Parliament House around 1:30pm before being handed piles of documents and, in more recent years, USB sticks.

The lock-up has been a fixture of the Australian political calendar since former prime minister Ben Chifley (1945-49) began to give parliamentary journalists information earlier so they could meet the deadline for their morning editions.

However, it was former PM Paul Keating who created the major Canberra lock-up, which sees journalists today lose their phones, internet access and all contact with the outside world until 7:30pm.

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