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Budget day dawns

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It’s ten years since Julia Gillard set her sights on putting the federal budget back in black, telling an audience of business luminaries that a budget surplus is “not a political target but a strong economic tool”. Four prime ministers later, no one has delivered one, although Scott Morrison came within a whisker when he was treasurer in 2018.

What has this decade of fetishising surpluses without delivering them taught us? As Steven Hail writes, the main thing we’ve learned is that we don’t actually need one. Instead, a good budget should decide on the right balance between spending, which drives employment, and taxation, which reins in inflation. Governments know this full well, although they often find it expedient to pretend otherwise.

When Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hands down the 2022 budget this evening, The Conversation will have all the coverage you need, including an at-a-glance guide, news and political analysis from Michelle Grattan, and the economic verdict from Peter Martin and Richard Holden. We’ll be bringing you a special newsletter tonight, and more analysis from our team during the coming days.

In the meantime, we’ve got coverage of a hugely eventful night at the Oscars, and a lovely piece by Anna Clark, who has written for our new Books + Ideas section on the book Broken Teeth, a collection of poetry by Tony Birch.

Budget day dawns 1

Michael Hopkin

Deputy Chief of Staff

Budget day dawns 2
Budget day dawns 3

This budget, amid talk of deficits, consider the lessons we ought to have learned

Steven Hail, Torrens University Australia

Whether a budget should be in surplus or deficit depends on the circumstances of the time. Gillard didn’t recognise it, Abbott didn’t recognise it. At last the message is getting through.

Budget day dawns 4

The book that changed me: I’m a historian but Tony Birch’s poetry opened my eyes to confronting truths about the past

Anna Clark, University of Technology Sydney

Can a poem tell us more about the past than a history book?

Budget day dawns 5

Oscars 2022: 5 experts on the wins, the emotions, the music – and the bold frocks on the runway

Ari Mattes, University of Notre Dame Australia; Claire Whitley, Flinders University; Gregory Camp, University of Auckland; Harriette Richards, The University of Melbourne; Tom Clark, Victoria University

The Power of the Dog may have lead the pack when it came to nominations, but the big winner of the night was the understated CODA.

Budget day dawns 6

Racism is still an everyday experience for non-white Australians. Where is the plan to stop this?

Fethi Mansouri, Deakin University

Australia is billed as the ‘most successful’ multicultural nation in the world. But almost half of non-white Australians regularly experience racism at work.

Budget day dawns 7

Our population is expected to double in 80 years. We asked Australians where they want all these people to live

Julian Bolleter, The University of Western Australia; Robert Freestone, UNSW Sydney

Our survey found strong opposition to Australian megacities, with most people preferring population growth to be in satellite cities and rail hubs outside the capitals.

Budget day dawns 8

Trying to cut back on alcohol? Here’s what works

Nicole Lee, Curtin University

There are many ways to reduce or quit alcohol. What works best for you will depend on your situation.

Budget day dawns 9

Better AI, unhackable communication, spotting submarines: the quantum tech arms race is heating up

Stuart Rollo, University of Sydney

China and the US are racing for quantum technology breakthroughs in weapons, communications, sensing, and computing that could tilt the balance between the world’s military forces.

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Budget day dawns 19

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