The federal budget ended in a slightly smaller deficit than anticipated, Treasurer Wayne Swan has announced.
The final underlying cash deficit was $43.7 billion, a drop from the $44.4 billion forecast in May.
‘‘This is the smallest variation between the budget deficit and the final outcome for a decade,’’ Mr Swan said today.
However, the figure was nearly double the amount - $22.6 billion - forecast in May 2011. Wages and employment continue to experience growth with total taxation receipts $290 million higher than the May 2012 forecast.
The deficit accounts for nearly half the country’s gross domestic product, less than half the average budget deficit recorded in major advanced economies last year.
Mr Swan reiterated the government’s support for delivering a budget surplus in 2012-2013, despite the continuing impact of the global financial crisis.
‘‘We remain committed to delivering a surplus, as Australia's best defence at a time of ongoing global turbulence,’’ he said.
However, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said it was not a time for self-congratulation for the government, with the budget deficit the third highest in history.
‘‘If Australia were a company, today you would have sacked the board of directors for their incompetence,’’ Mr Hockey said.