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Budget won’t address cost of living: Labor

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Labor has branded the federal government’s pre-election budget, filled with tax breaks and a cash splash, as a ploy that fails to plan for a better future. 

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers says nothing in the budget – which revised down national debt by $100 billion over the forward estimates – made up for “a decade of attacks on wages, job security and Medicare”.

“If this budget wasn’t ruined by rorts and weighed down by waste and mismanagement, there’d be more room to support families and pensioners and invest in the future,” he said.

“Scott Morrison is only pretending to care about the cost of living because he has to call an election in the next fortnight, and he’s running out of time.”

A one-off tax break of $420 will go to more than 10 million Australians earning up to $126,000 a year. The government will also cut the fuel excise in half to 22.1 cents for the next six months.

Relief at the bowser will take up to two weeks to flow through, but the excise slash is projected to save a family with two cars filling up once a week around $30 a week – or $700 in total.

But Dr Chalmers pointed to rises in inflation and lower than predicted wage growth leaving average Australians $1355 worse off.

Inflation forecasts have been increased, starting with a spike to 4.25 per cent this financial year compared to a 2.75 per cent increase in wages, resulting in real wages going backwards 1.5 per cent. 

The shadow treasurer also took aim at the increased cost of living as petrol soars to well over $2 a litre and the price of everyday goods go up.

“Even these billions of dollars sprayed around on the eve of an election won’t go near topping-up the $3600 typical Australian families are already out of pocket because of skyrocketing costs of living,” Dr Chalmers said.

Greens leader Adam Bandt also chastised the government for attempting to bribe voters, saying the budget locked in tax cuts for the wealthy and funding for more coal and gas projects rather than acting on the climate crisis.

“It doesn’t have a cent of new money for building new affordable housing, but it gives hundreds of millions to new oil and gas projects,” he said.

“Even as floods again threaten the Northern Rivers for the second time in a month, Scott Morrison plans to give more than $38 billion in handouts to coal, oil and gas corporations to fuel the climate crisis and Labor backs him in.”

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