At the core of the budget Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivered last night is a really simple proposition: the best way to lower inflation is to lower prices, especially rent and energy bills.

He’s more than happy to spend money to do it – particularly given the pitifully weak condition of the economy.

As former Finance Department Deputy Secretary Stephen Bartos writes, after two budgets in which Chalmers banked nearly all the extra revenue that flowed from strong employment growth and high iron ore prices, this year he has reversed course.

Over the next four financial years Chalmers expects to take in $2 billion more than was forecast in the December budget update.

He plans to spend it all, and then some: an extra $24.2 billion. Even with that, former Reserve Bank and Treasury economist John Hawkins says Australia’s economy and the global economic situation are looking weak.

We will need that boost from the revamped Stage 3 tax cuts due to hit our pay packets in June, and also the energy price relief and increased rent assistance that will arrive at about the same time, bringing down prices and taking half a percentage point off inflation.

Michelle Grattan points out much will depend on the reaction of the Reserve Bank. If the Treasurer’s forecasts come to pass and his measures do bring inflation back to within the Reserve Bank’s target band, it should feel compelled to grant the government a pre-election rate cut.

This means that what the bank thinks of the budget will be almost as important as what the average voter thinks of it.

For more on the main cuts and spends, check out our interactive guide to the budget. And stay tuned during the week for more in-depth coverage and reaction from our expert authors.

Peter Martin

Economics Editor

Chalmers is bitten by the giveaway bug in a budget that contains good news for almost everyone

Stephen Bartos, University of Canberra

This budget contains not only foreshadowed tax cuts, but a range of new spending measures in health, education, infrastructure and aged care.

Budget 2024: Chalmers fights inflation, will it be enough for a rate cut?

John Hawkins, University of Canberra

If the Reserve Bank is genuinely prepared to cut interest rates as inflation moves back towards its target, we can expect a rate cut within the year.

View from The Hill: What the Reserve Bank thinks of Chalmers’ budget will be nearly as important as the voters’ opinion

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The treasurer has juggled the economics and the politics by going big on spending while keeping a firm eye on inflation.

Relief on energy bills for all in a federal budget that bets on lower inflation

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

A $300 energy rebate and an increase in rent assistance headline Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ third budget.

At a glance: the 2024 federal budget split four ways

Matt Garrow, The Conversation; Erin Cooper-Douglas, The Conversation

Which departments are the biggest winners and losers in this year’s budget? We’ve broken the budget documents down to show you where the money’s going - and where it isn’t.

Green industry yes, conservation no: a budget for people, not for nature

Timothy Neal, UNSW Sydney

What’s in the budget for the environment? Lots for green industry, little for conservation

David McBride goes to prison – and Australian democracy takes a hit

Peter Greste, Macquarie University

It is hard to overstate the impact this case is likely to have on future whistleblowing in Australia.

A student’s visa has been cancelled for links to ‘weapons of mass destruction’. What’s going on with Australian research security?

Brendan Walker-Munro, Southern Cross University

As concerns over research security grow, Australia has no national policy or consistent approach.

From Bridgerton to Grey’s Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes is the queen of romance. Here’s how she gets our hearts pounding

Rebecca Trelease, Auckland University of Technology

With Bridgerton’s season three set to sweep us off our feet yet again, let’s take a look at how executive producer Shonda Rhimes pulls it off.

I’m pregnant. Do I need a multivitamin?

Linda Gallo, University of the Sunshine Coast; Shelley Wilkinson, The University of Queensland

Apart from folic acid and iodine, other supplements may not be needed. For the most part, they’re a waste of money. At worse, they could harm.

‘Who brings a laptop with her to the hospital to give birth?’ – Leslie Jamison interrogates motherhood, ambition and divorce

Astrid Edwards, The University of Melbourne

In Splinters, Leslie Jamison confronts the expectations placed on women, especially mothers – including the dangers of making art, and being more successful at it than the man in their life.

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