Former prime minister John Howard says the federal budget was more about politically disadvantaging the opposition than the future of the economy.
Mr Howard has told a business breakfast in Brisbane the most extraordinary thing about Tuesday night's budget speech was that for the first time he can remember, it was entirely focused on the opposition, not the government.
"The government was saying, `We are committed to these great reforms in disability care and Gonski', saying, `we will do everything we can to put opposition in a difficult position of either supporting those reforms or alternatively getting rid of support for other measures'," he said.
"In other words, the budget last night was not about the future of the economy, rather it was about politically disadvantaging the opposition."
The former Liberal leader said the economy was still in a good position but the budget bottom line was not after five-and-a-half years of Labor governments.
He accepted it was necessary for Labor to spend money to get through the global financial crisis, but he thinks the spending went too far.
"I accept when you go into any type of downturn, revenues are affected," Mr Howard said.
"I don't accept the magnitude of the wasteful expenditure that occurred.
"The first $11 billion was acceptable, the next $42 billion comprised some of the greatest series of waste that we've seen.
"This government has spent beyond its means."
While Mr Howard said he was still enormously optimistic about the future of Australia, the real challenge for the elected government would be to continue to compete in the "foot race" of globalisation against the rest of the world.