After weeks of warnings about harsh measures and budget emergencies, few expected to come out winners in the federal budget.

After weeks of warnings about harsh measures and budget emergencies, few expected to come out winners in the federal budget.

But many will be surprised at the depth and breadth of treasurer Joe Hockey’s cuts.

Parents, pensioners, public servants, the unemployed, retirees, university students, and anyone who happens to get sick are all in for a tougher time as cuts to government spending bite, particularly in the areas of social welfare, health and education.

Or as Mr Hockey puts it, they will all have their opportunity to “contribute and build” for Australia.

High income earners are hit too, with a two per cent deficit levy that will cost someone on $200,000 a year an extra $400 a year – but only for three years.

Mr Hockey has delivered the most stringent measures seen in years as part of his “budget repair mission” to cut the nation’s gross debt by $300 million in a decade’s time.

And the budget introduces some profound changes to the nation, including paying a fee to see a doctor.

“Our Economic Action Strategy is not about weakening government; it is about redefining the role of government in people’s lives,” Mr Hockey said in his budget speech.

Some winners have emerged: business got a 1.5 per cent cut in the company tax rate; workers aged over-50 get help finding work from a $10,000 payment to companies that give them a job; mothers get a generous paid parental leave scheme, albeit at a lower rate than Prime Minister Tony Abbott wanted.

Universities have been unshackled to charge whatever tuition fees they think students will pay and private colleges will benefit from direct government funding to students for the first time.

Medical research stands to benefit as well, with the creation of a $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund.

But the fund will be paid for by a $7 co-contribution that will be required of people who want to see a bulk-billing GP – one of a number of changes that will tighten family budgets.

The Family Tax Benefit B supplement will be wound back, made available only to those earning less than $100,000 whose youngest child is under six years of age.

Pension payments will grow more slowly in future, with increases linked to inflation rather than wage growth, as they have been in the past.

Indexation increases for a number of other government payments will be frozen for two years.

Petrol prices will rise with the reintroduction of twice-yearly indexation increases.

People who lose their job, or have not had one, will find government benefits harder to access as well.

Those aged under 25 will get the lower Youth Allowance payment, while people under 30 will wait six months for benefits and must work for the dole.

As part of a “learn or earn” strategy, unemployed people can opt to study, which might make them eligible for student allowances instead.

Mr Hockey envisages Australia as “a nation of lifters, not leaners” but key to his vision is a much leaner government, with 16,500 public service jobs to go – 2000 more than planned under the previous government.

Politicians will share some pain too, however: their pay has been frozen for one year and the gold travel pass for retired members of parliament will be wound back and then abolished.