Josh Frydenberg pledges cost-of-living budget support, hints at fuel price relief
“I recognize that the cost of living is the number one topic around Australian kitchen tables right now,” Mr Frydenberg told SBS World News.
“We will have cost-of-living relief in Tuesday night’s budget, it will be temporary, it will be targeted, it will be proportionate.”
Asked about the exact measures of the budget, the treasurer said he was not ready to put himself on the “sticky paper” before the documents were published.
The Coalition is also under pressure to confirm whether it will renew the Low and Middle Income Tax Offset (LMITO), affectionately dubbed “The Lamington” by some economists.
The LMITO can reduce tax payable by up to $1,080 when eligible individuals file their tax returns.
“The low- and middle-income tax offset was designed as a fiscal stimulus at a time when the economy had been hit by the biggest economic shock since the Great Depression,” Mr. Frydenberg said.
“It was always meant to be temporary, it wasn’t meant to be a permanent feature of the tax system.”
Labor Treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers said he expected some movement on both this tax relief and the fuel excise, adding that Labor was unlikely to s oppose such measures.
“The budget should help Australian families through difficult times and not just help the government during an election,” Dr Chalmers told ABC’s Insiders program.
Mr Frydenberg declined to say whether the budget would include changes to existing parental leave provisions that allow 18 weeks minimum wage for the primary carer and two weeks for a secondary carer.
“We have a series of workforce participation measures that we have rolled out in previous budgets, we will continue to roll out more on Tuesday evening,” he said.
He also defended the government’s decision not to fund the primary carer’s pension contributions on parental leave.
“We don’t have a super right now on paid parental leave, but we’ve already made changes to our super system which is helping a lot of Australians go super when they didn’t before,” did he declare.
Mr Frydenberg argues that the balance has been struck in this budget to ensure that the financial stimulus does not overheat the economy and put additional pressure on the Reserve Bank to raise the cash rate.
He said high commodity prices and low unemployment had bolstered fiscal performance, but he argued that should not stop Australia from resisting Beijing’s coercive tactics.
“We have suffered economic coercion from China, it is an important trading relationship. Our economies are complementary in many ways,” he said.
Mr Frydenberg said the government would “continue to provide support as needed” through international partners to “tighten the screws” on Russian President Vladimir Putin and help Ukraine’s war effort.
He said he agreed with US President Joe Biden
although the White House insists Mr Biden was not calling for regime change and instead preparing the world’s democracies for a protracted conflict over Ukraine
“I don’t think he should stay in power,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“He is a totalitarian leader, he rules this country with an iron fist. This aggression against Ukraine backfires, it unites countries around the world to stand firmly against this form of violence,” he said.
With the AAP.