It's being touted as the budget that will see Australia rid itself of the shackles of the pandemic.
But a surge in commodity prices amid conflict in Europe and devastating floods could mean a fiscal pivot ahead of the coming election.
The federal budget on Tuesday is set to be an inflection point, where large-scale spending during the pandemic will be wound back. A number of economists are expecting a deficit improvement of up to $20 billion since the last mid-year outlook.
But even as he delivers the usual cliché speech about the Coalition's "strong economic management" over the past two years - which has seen the Australian economy bounce back from the pandemic stronger than most other major economies - Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will need to address the elephant in the room.
And that is the rising cost of living.
Discretionary items, house values and necessities such as fuel have seen prices blow out over the March quarter, and some analysts believe it will push inflation beyond 5 per cent.
A lack of material, supply shortages and jittery commodity markets as a result of sanctions on Russia have elevated prices in an economy that already was experiencing upward inflationary pressures.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the annual consumer price index rose 3.5 per cent over the December quarter.
That includes petrol at the bowser, which has jumped higher than $2 a litre, resulting in calls for excise tax relief from a number of politicians.
Westpac chief economist Bill Evans expects the short-term strategy of the budget will be to address these cost-of-living pressures, and believes the government could deliver a temporary cut in petrol excise tax.
The major bank expects that, since MYEFO, there will have been a $21.5 billion improvement in the still eye-watering budget deficit sparked by the pandemic, to $77.7 billion. That improvement figure rises to about $78 billion over the next four years to 2024-25.
Mr Evans says about 25 per cent of the savings from the $78 billion improvement will probably be put towards targeted spending packages to address supply constraints and cost pressures within the economy.
"Clearly there will be a cost-of-living package, we're pencilling in $4 billion for that," he says.
"I think most of it will go around the themes of boosting supply in the economy. So things like training and infrastructure."
Long term, Mr Evans believes the budget strategy will be geared to fiscal repair, with Treasury expectations likely to show a future unemployment rate within the 3 per cent range.
Pumping more stimulus into the economy may not bode well for the Reserve Bank's timeline to lift the cash rate, which is already flagged to face added pressure in the first half of the year.
ANZ has indicated it believes core inflation could rise in the first two quarters by 5 per cent, due to the oil price surges caused by the Ukraine conflict as well as the east coast floods resulting in additional supply shortages.
Food prices are also likely to be impacted due to floods affecting agricultural supplies.
In his budget rebuttal speech, Labor treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers is tipped to blast the Coalition on the cost-of-living issue, with his party alleging real wage growth in Australia is going backwards.
According to RBA figures, real wage growth in this current financial year is forecast to slide by 1.25 per cent.
"Cost-of-living pressures on Australian working families didn't begin when Russia attacked Ukraine; they began when the government started attacking wages and job security," Dr Chalmers told RN Breakfast on Wednesday.
Treasury will not want to produce a document showing stagnating wages. However according to Mr Evans, factoring in short-term inflation shocks, wages in real terms are in fact expected to grow in 2023.
Tax cuts are also expected to be part of the budget arsenal - a move which the Australian Council of Social Service says will erode public expenditure to assist people out of poverty, as well as weaken the budget by $30 billion a year.
ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie says housing is the biggest concern with respect to the cost of living. She says a near doubling in the amount of rent assistance and JobSeeker payments is needed to keep up with price surges in the private rental market.
"We know in regional Australia rents have gone up by 18 per cent since the pandemic," Ms Goldie says, quoting from a recent ACOSS report conducted in conjunction with the University of NSW.
"We're very worried the government seems to be obsessed with this idea that government is there to get out of the way and to deliver more tax cuts, in an environment where our public expenditures are far too low for what the country needs."
Ms Goldie says the additional financial support implemented during the height of the pandemic had been welcome, and a number of those measures should be permanently planted into public spending.
She notes increased JobSeeker and support payments over the past two years had helped halve the nation's poverty rate.
ACOSS believes land and superannuation tax reform should be put on the agenda, to increase other revenue streams to fix the gap in funding.
Geoff Warren, an associate professor at the Australian National University, also agrees reform is needed within the nation's wealth system, saying its benefits skew to higher-income earners.
But he says changes to superannuation taxation will not be an issue addressed at the upcoming budget.
"The tax concessions don't go to the right people," he says.
"It would be good to see the government address that, but it is not going to happen in this budget. It's too dangerous. It's politically fraught to touch anything in this area."
There is also speculation as to whether the low- to middle-income tax offset will continue to be extended. It's a package Mr Evans believes is not needed, but he would not be surprised if it sticks around to appease voters ahead of the election.
But the fate of Mr Frydenberg's budget ultimately hinges on the outcome of the May election.
If the Coalition is dumped from office, the package of sweeteners to ease cost-of-living pressures may never see the light of day.
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