Budget 2023 live updates: Jim Chalmers forecasts first budget surplus in 15 years but economic growth expected to slow

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First surplus to be delivered in 15 years

The cherry on top of tonight’s budget cake is almost certainly going to be the first budget surplus to be handed down by an Australian treasurer in 15 years.

But it’s important to note that the budget surplus at this point is still a forecast, as Treasurer Jim Chalmers noted in the traditional budget-morning press conference at Parliament House.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers holds a doorstop interview before handing down the 2023-2024 Budget.Credit: Rhett Wyman

“We are now forecasting a surplus this year, smaller deficits after that, and less debt throughout the budget,” Chalmers said this morning.

“If this eventuates, this will be the first budget surplus in 15 years.”

This marks an extraordinary turnaround in Australia’s budgetary position.

Chalmers insists this is not solely the result of high commodities’ growth, although that does account for about 20 per cent of the revenue growth since last budget but economic growth and Labor banking the extra revenues.

Read more from our chief political correspondent David Crowe: Budget to predict $4 billion surplus as revenues surge

New budget details released

Some important details of tonight’s budget are starting to trickle through.

Ahead of Treasurer Jim Chalmers handing down the budget at 7.30 pm, the government has confirmed there will be an increase to the base rate of at least three support payments as part of a $14.6 billion cost-of-living package.

The rate of JobSeeker, Austudy and Youth Allowance will all be increased, while there will also be additional support for renters.

The budget will forecast inflation to be lower in 2023-24 than was forecast in the October Budget, which the government will say is because of its cost-of-living package.

As previously canvassed by the government, there will also be electricity bill relief for more than five million households, according to the government.

Gross debt will also peak five years earlier and significantly lower than expected in October.

It is projected to be almost $300 billion lower by 2033, saving $83 billion in interest costs over that period.

Welcome to our rolling coverage

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the federal budget.

I’m Latika Bourke and I’ll be keeping you abreast of all the developments including the treasurer’s budget speech which will be delivered live to the House of Representatives at 7.30pm AEST.

Budget.gov.au has a handy countdown going if you’re that way inclined.

Right now our Canberra bureau is in the lock-up at Parliament House. They’ll be released and given back their phones when the treasurer starts speaking.

And that is when our coverage, which the reporters have been toiling away on for the last few hours, can be published.

I will bring you it all right here. So no need to go anywhere.

Please join in the conversation with your comments, we love to read them.

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