Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison makes a point on the budget deficit during a media conference in Sydney.
Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison makes a point on the budget deficit during a media conference in Sydney. DANIEL MUNOZ

$5b social service cut lifts budget

TREASURER Scott Morrison has revealed Australia's federal budget is $4.4 billion better off than forecast five months ago.

The final budget deficit for the 2016-17 financial year was $33.2 billion, down more than $4billion from the $37.6 billion outlined in the May budget.

Mr Morrison said the biggest contributor to the government's reduction in spending had been a $5 billion cut in spending on social services. Spending on border control, employment services and the National Disability Insurance Scheme was lower than expected, he said.

The treasurer told reporters in Sydney the government's disciplined approach to financial management had been "successfully de-risking the budget”.

"We have had to deal with changes to what has happened on revenue but all along the line we have been holding firm to keeping expenditure under control ... and we have been doing that by having sensible and constructive forecasts and realistic estimates of where things are going,” he said.

"That is one of the key reasons why Australia to date has been able to maintain our credit rating because we have been transparent about this process.

"We have been realistic.”

Spending on Australia's border control measures, particularly for "onshore compliance” and detention numbers, were also lower than expected.

The NDIS cost less than expected because lower than estimated payments reflected a more gradual uptake of the scheme than expected.

- Claire Bickers



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