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Pre-Christmas budget repair row continues

AAP logoAAP 19/12/2016

While Australians are focused on present shopping, the major parties will continue to use the last week before Christmas to tussle over budget repair.

Treasurer Scott Morrison handed down the mid-year budget review on Monday, showing the federal coffers suffered a mild deterioration since the May but it was not the horror story some had been predicting.

The budget update won immediate approval from the world's major credit rating agencies, meaning Australia will keep its triple-A rating for now.

But Labor's shadow treasurer Chris Bowen is still worried.

"The rating is still very much in the danger zone as a result of the actions of this government," Mr Bowen told ABC TV on Monday night.

The budget update shows a tiny improvement in this year's financial position from a deficit of $37.1 billion at the time of the May budget to $36.5 billion.

However, over the next three years the bottom line worsens by just under $11 billion.

By 2019/20 the deficit will still be $10 billion.

Mr Morrison maintains the government is on track with its plan get the nation's finances back into the black by 2021.

At the top of his Christmas wish list will be getting parliament to pass proposed company tax cuts, which Labor opposes.

"We think we should be providing that incentive for small and medium-sized businesses to invest and invest now," Mr Morrison told ABC TV.

"You have to grow the economy and do things that boost investment. That's what will ultimately bring down debt over the longer term."

But Mr Bowen insists the government can't afford it right now.

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