Australia treasurer promises fair budget that reins in debt

Malcolm Turnbull has assured his colleagues the budget will deliver fairness, opportunity and security for Australians. That will include a potential buy-out of the Snowy Hydro scheme from Victoria and NSW, and a $20 billion "once in a generation" rail line upgrade.

"The Budget papers show, after you take into account the net operating balance, infrastructure grants and non-cash accounting provisions, the Government will no longer be borrowing to pay for our everyday expenses from 2018", Mr Morrison told Parliament.

And Mr Morrison officially scrapped $13 billion in so-called zombie Budget measures hanging over from the 2014 and 2015 budgets.

Some budget measures will have to run the gauntlet of the Senate, where crossbenchers rule the roost.

During the latest round of financial results ending Tuesday with CBA's A$2.4 billion third-quarter profit, bank executives told analysts they were cutting jobs, closing branches and investing in technology to keep a lid on costs.

It was the biggest increase in a decade, he said.

So the Treasurer has delivered a budget that lifts the Medicare levy for all but the lowest income earners in two years' time.

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Property Council of Australia chief executive Ken Morrison said the vacant property chrarge was a waste of money.

"We have to fund the NDIS".

The government will also encourage older Australians to free up housing stock by offering a non-concessional contribution of up to $300,000 to downsizers over the age of 65.

APRA will get A$4.2 million in additional funding over four years and an annual A$1 million for a fund to enforce breaches where banks fail to meet expected standards.

That equates to $6.2 billion of new taxes from the banking sector over the next four years. In a clever political move, the Treasurer has exempted customer deposits of less than $250,000, as well as superannuation and insurance funds. Pushing up personal income tax by lifting the Medicare levy to 2.5 per cent of personal income is at odds with Mr Morrison's previous message that there is a spending problem not a revenue problem.

The Treasurer also promised a "one-stop shop" for customer complaints aganst the banks called the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.

"We've had a fights about funding for several years".

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As recommended by the Coleman committee, a permanent team will be established within the ACCC to investigate competition in the nation's banking and financial system.

Mr Morrison also announced a further crackdown on large multi-nationals that avoid tax in Australia.

Morrison said whether Australia maintains its strong credit rating in light of the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 was a question for the rating agencies.

"We assume that GDP growth will be somewhat slower than projected by the government, at 2.5 to 2.7 percent in the next few years".

"In Melbourne, land for a new suburb that could cater for 6,000 new homes will be unlocked just 10km from the CBD, by releasing surplus Defence land at Maribyrnong".

The headwinds faced by the banks are many.

"On demand management, we will continue to prefer the scalpel to the chainsaw, to avoid a housing shock", Morrison said.

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