By ROD McGUIRK – Associated Press
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – The Australian government will increase spending on defense and national security while cutting budget spending, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said before unveiling on Tuesday a budget prepared with the upcoming election in mind.
As Russia is at war with Ukraine and China’s military is growing more assertive, Frydenberg announced “further investments in defense and national security that reflect the challenges we now face.”
The budget for the fiscal year, which begins July 1, comes ahead of the May 21 general election, in which Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Conservative government is seeking a fourth three-year term.
With inflation rising in Australia and elsewhere, in part due to higher oil prices, the government is expected to increase its fuel tax from 44.2 Australian cents (33 US cents) per liter (US$1.25 per gallon) lowers.
“Tonight we will temporarily, purposefully and responsibly ensure that the cost of living is reduced,” said Frydenberg.
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The Australian Institute for Petroleum said the national price of petrol fell 5.8 Australian cents (4.3 cents) to Australian $2.06 ($1.54) a liter ($5.86 a gallon) last week.
Frydenberg said he would also unveil a “significant improvement in the budget outcome.”
Economists are expecting a deficit of AU$70-80 billion ($52-60 billion) for the current fiscal year, compared to the AU$99.2 billion ($74.3 billion) government forecast in December ).
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