Labor to set out economic credentials

Paul Osborne
Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen will pledge to bring the federal budget back into the black

A Labor government will bring the federal budget back into the black in the same year as the coalition, but deliver bigger surpluses and pay down debt faster over the next decade.

That's the pledge shadow treasurer Chris Bowen will make in his post-budget National Press Club address in Canberra on Wednesday.

Treasurer Scott Morrison announced in last week's budget the return to surplus would occur a year earlier than expected, in 2019/20.

Mr Bowen said the earlier return to the black was welcome, but Australia needed a bigger buffer to withstand future downturns in the global economy or a trade war.

"We only get to 0.1 per cent of GDP as a surplus in 2019-20 and only then by a massive bring forward of tobacco excise of $3.3 billion, while it assumes the wages growth rut we have been in for years now will suddenly jump back above three per cent in the out-years," he will say.

"The whiff of a surplus, not reaching at least one per cent of GDP until 2026-27, does not adequately protect Australia against the potential roiling seas of international uncertainty."

He said Labor would go to the next election not only balancing the books in 2019 but delivering bigger cumulative budget surpluses over four years and "substantially bigger surpluses" over the decade.

Most of the savings from Labor's revenue measures over the decade would go towards budget repair and paying down debt.

Mr Bowen will pledge that budget repair won't require the most vulnerable to carry the heaviest burden and new spending will be more than offset by savings and revenue improvements.

As well, boosts in tax receipts and lower payments from changes in the economy would be banked.

Labor has re-hired a panel of three experts - academic Bob Officer, former public service chief Mike Keating and businessman James Mackenzie, to check the party's policy costings and assumptions.

The team would add rigour to Labor's economic credentials, Mr Bowen said.

Meanwhile, a new Essential poll shows 44 per cent approval for the Turnbull government's budget, with 28 per cent of voters disapproving.

A majority of voters felt the budget was responsible and in the national interest.

However, the poll showed not everyone was happy - 65 per cent of people earning less than $600 a week found the budget "disappointing".