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'Election budget without an election'

The government 's desperate for love, says Peter Hartcher, while Michelle Grattan says it wants to shore up battler votes.

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At its core, this budget aims to build bridges between the government and the Labor base.

Julia Gillard, so often accused of having a tin ear, has started to heed the message in recent weeks.

After sidelining Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper, she had one more reparation to make. To let the voters know that she understood they were angry with the carbon tax and the cost of living implications. The carbon tax already promised $6.3 billion in payments and $9 billion in tax cuts to compensate for the cost of living impact.

Today, the government found another $5 billion to go towards the cost of living. Low- and middle-income earners will be more than compensated for the carbon tax now.

The budget did not even try to disguise the motive.

"We understand the pressures Australians face, paying for electricity, housing, groceries, petrol or even a simple family outing," Treasurer Wayne Swan said.

This extra money was funded primarily from scrapping the company tax cut to be funded by the mining tax and rediverting the money to the battlers.

This was a symbolic gesture to the Labor base but also a pointed message to business to become more supportive of Labor when it is trying to help them.