Australia uses big-spending budget to aid recovery, win over voters

Australia promised big spending in a deficit-laden budget as the leadership sought to sustain a recovery from a coronavirus-induced recession and win backing from women and older voters with an eye on the next election.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's billions in support and reform programmes for women and aged-care home residents comes amid public anger over his government's handling of sexism and misconduct claims in Canberra, and a public inquiry that revealed widespread abuse in the care home sector.

The deficit will hit a record $A161 billion in the fiscal year ending 30 June 2021 though, as a strong economic rebound improves government finances, that is more than $A50 billion lower than a forecast made in December.

"The economy is coming back. Australia is coming back," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said as he unveiled $A589 billion in spending measures for the fiscal year ending June 2022.

Budget papers showed the deficit is forecast to remain close to $A100 billion in the next two fiscal years. Large deficits are forecast every year until June 2025, the limit of the budget papers' projections, with the debt load rising during that time to reach almost A$1 trillion.