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Dutton vows to tackle cost of living pressures

Peter Dutton has used his budget reply speech to support families while attacking the government for fuelling high inflation.

PETER DUTTON BUDGET REPLY Opposition Leader Peter Dutton says the federal budget
May 12, 2023
By Andrew Brown
12 May 2023

The coalition would ease cost of living pressures, Peter Dutton has vowed as he used his budget reply speech to highlight policies targeted at families while hitting out against an increase in migration.

The opposition leader said the coalition would ban betting ads during sports matches if it won the next election and commit $5 million to make treatment for conditions affecting women, such as endometriosis, more affordable.

While the opposition backed some government measures such as tripling the bulk billing incentive and expanding single-parent payments, Mr Dutton said families had received little support in the budget.

“Australians around our country are grappling with mounting costs. Your mortgage repayments, gas and electricity bills, supermarket and petrol station receipts, and insurance premiums are the evidence,” he said on Thursday.

“The budget hurts working Australians. Worse, it risks creating a generation of working poor Australians.”

Mr Dutton said increasing overseas migration by 1.5 million people across the next five years would fuel a housing and rental crisis.

“Cities, towns and suburbs are already choked with congestion, yet in this budget – as it did in the last – the government is cutting infrastructure spending already announced,” he said.

He doubled down on claims families with children and a mortgage would be $25,000 worse off under the government and said power bills would still rise despite measures in the budget providing energy relief.

“Very few Australians can say they are better off today than they were 12 months ago when Labor was elected,” he said.

“The treasurer’s cost of living relief is only temporary. That temporary relief is targeted at Australians on welfare but at the expense of the many, including Labor’s working poor.”

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones said Mr Dutton’s address rehashed old ideas rejected by voters at the last election.

“He’s come back into the parliament with the same old ideas and the same old approach instead of trying to unify the country and make them feel confident about the future,” he said.

“A bloke who’s been talking about the importance of balancing a budget for the last 12 months has come into parliament and delivered a speech which adds at least $10 billion in debt to the budget bottom line.”

The budget contained $14.6 billion in cost-of-living relief measures, including a $40 a-week increase in welfare payments for those on JobSeeker – a measure the coalition will oppose.

Instead, Mr Dutton said there should be an increase in the income-free threshold, arguing people would be able to earn more.

“The government has taken decisions – and avoided others – which has made inflation higher than it needs to be,” he said.

“Inflation is coming from Canberra and Labor’s big spending budget will only fuel inflation and make life harder for millions of Australians.”

Mr Jones said it would be “mean-spirited and small-minded” of the opposition to stand in the way of increases to JobSeeker payments.

“(Peter Dutton) says he cares about cost of living. Is he seriously going to add to the list of cost of living improvements he has voted against or opposed?” Mr Jones said.

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