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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “The 2019 Australian budget verdict: what the papers and websites say” was written by Helen Sullivan, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 2nd April 2019 22.05 UTC

The Australian has paired a cartoon depicting the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, as none other than cupid, with the headline “A budget surplus with love”. It characterises the Coalition’s spending plan as “a 0bn battle for middle Australia” and, in another article, a “blueprint for a win”.

The Sydney Morning Herald calls Morrison’s bn in tax cuts an election gamble, in which Frydenberg’s play is, in the Herald’s analysis piece, “a budget that does the right thing for the wrong reasons”. It says New South Wales is the big winner, with .3bn for new rail and road projects.

Also going with the gambling theme is the Advertiser, whose front page bears a graphic of Morrison and Frydenberg rolling a pair of dice.

On the ABC’s homepage, Frydenberg trumpets that the budget is “back in black” – but there is a catch: the fact that the Coalition will need to win re-election for the surplus to actually eventuate. In the ABC’s “Winners and Losers” roundup, the winners are taxpayers, Queenslanders, small/medium business, regional Australia, mental health, car commuters, the fight against cancer, and crime fighter. Its losers are welfare recipients, urgent NDIS needs, multinationals, foreign doctors, Canberrans and fire ants; while the ABC itself and farmers are “neutral”.

The “catch” is the focus of the New Daily’s coverage too, which reports, “Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed on Tuesday night the government will refuse to legislate the tax relief until after the May election – despite Labor offering to back the cuts in Parliament this week”.

The Courier Mail has decided upon a subtle crossroads metaphor for its front page, with a road sign bearing the word Reward, pointing right, above a considerably worse-for-wear sign titled Ri$k, pointing left. “Beware left turn” the second sign warns. Below the signs, on the left, is Bill Shorten, and on the right, in the direction of the reward, are Morrison and Frydenberg.

The NT News’ headline is “Kaka Duds”, on a story calling the budget one of “mixed fortunes” for the Northern Territory, and pointing out that a 6m pledge made by Morrison in January towards the Kakadu national rescue package “was nowhere to be seen”.

Frydenberg is once again in costume in the Canberra Times, where he appears as a rodeo clown, his too-large britches and 10-gallon hat stuffed with bills. Behind him, Morrison waits in a bullpen bearing the sign “Election rodeo”.

The PM has turned up on the Herald Sun’s front page in a nod to Tayla Harris’s now-iconic goal-kicking pose..

Crikey casts the budget as short on narrative but long on tactical spending, and has a roundup of some of Frydenberg’s “more unusual choices”, which include visa exemptions for spin bowlers. A budget is “a window into weirdness”, writes Jason Murphy, “a peek at the distinct peculiarity created by the collision of political and bureaucratic process”.

In Tasmania, the Mercury shows Frydenberg catapulting a sack of cash labelled “To: Lyons, Bass and Braddon” – the names of three key marginal seats currently held by Labor. In the Mercury’s online headline, the budget is described as “A whole world of promises from treasurer’s sweet smell of excess”, and in its main piece, a “tax-cutting, road-building, debt-busting surplus budget”.

Last but not least, the Daily Telegraph, whose front page depicts an oddball sausage sizzle for four – Mathias Cormann as the terminator, Peter Dutton as a customs official, Frydenberg with an abacus, and Scott Morrison in a T-shirt and jacket above the headline “Prime Cuts”. The Tele’s budget 2019 winners include: pensioners, small business, commuters, taxpayers, schools, retirees and premature babies; while among its losers are dodgy pollies, dodgy businesses, child sex offenders, tax dodgers, the banks and migrants.

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