By Jinjing Li and Michael Jensen

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Main Findings

The annual Budget Speech is a significant event in Australian politics. The Budget Speech and Budget Reply constitute the contrasting narratives from the Government and Opposition regarding where the country is, its challenges and opportunities, and how the major parties aim to confront those challenges. This year it takes on heightened significance for two reasons. Firstly, this was the first budget of the Turnbull government which promised a new economic narrative in the wake of the leadership spill last September. The Budget forms the centerpiece of this new narrative. Secondly, we are quickly approaching an election and the budget announcement is the last critical act from the government before the election will be called.

For these reasons, the Budget Speech and Reply this year will set the stage for the coming election campaign, which appears will be quite close. The Turnbull government has strived to differentiate itself from the Abbott era, which never politically recovered from the widely unpopular 2014-2015 Budget. To determine the extent to which Morrison’s 2016 Budget represents a break from Hockey’s 2015 Budget, we analysed the speeches given by Treasurer and Opposition and noted the most frequent words and phrases used.

In 2016, the key focus of the government is on tax changes, one of the benefits that will be directed at upper middle income earners, changes to business taxes, and taxes on superannuation in general, compared with the more singular focus on businesses and the state of the budget in 2015.

2016 Government Speech

Count

2015   Government Speech

Count

tax

74

business

43

job

50

small business

21

per cent

23

tax

35

job and growth

13

year

33

job and

18

new

32

business

34

madam   speaker

15

Australians

33

Australia

29

new

30

budget

27

plan

29

small

26

year

28

Australian

24

per

28

billion

22

for job and

9

we need to

7

and growth

13

government

20

economic plan

12

million

19

cent

23

in   Australia

9

continue to

11

our economic plan

6

tax rate

11

is   a budget

6

the government

11

this budget

9

the next four

7

per   cent

8

plan for job

7

 

 

 

Methodology

Data is collected from the Australian Parliament website. Pre-processing applied where stop-words (words that are frequently appearing but carrying highly context-dependent meaning, e.g. articles such as “the”, “a”, “an”) are removed unless they appear in a phrase. The order of the list is determined by the number of times the phrases appears times the number of words in the phrases. Notes the list is based on word frequencies only, which may or may not reflect the importance of the topic in the speech.

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