Peter Dutton has accused the government of raising a white flag on providing financial relief from rising power prices, saying key election promises have been abandoned.
The opposition leader used his first budget reply speech on Thursday night to attack the Albanese government’s budget for not providing adequate cost of living measures at a time of rising inflation and electricity costs.
But Prime Minister Anthony Albanese fired back on Friday morning, labelling it “the weakest budget reply that I’ve seen in my time in politics”.
Dutton said the government had reneged on key election pledges to lower electricity bills by $275 a year.
“Labor’s scratching around for opportunities to try and give themselves cover to get out of their promise,” he told the ABC’s 7.30 program.
“The problem is, as Labor finds out when they get into government, they can’t manage the economy, and they certainly can’t manage electricity and gas prices. They’ve raised a white flag.”
The budget provided forecasts retail electricity prices will increase by more than 50 per cent during the next two years, while retail gas prices will go up by 40 per cent.
Labor pitched its first budget as being responsible for providing targeted cost of living measures without adding to already decades-high levels of inflation.
Dutton said more gas supply needed to be brought into the energy market to ensure power prices stay down, as well as allow for “a debate” on allowing some levels of nuclear energy into the grid.
“I don’t want to see families going without power, I don’t want to see businesses have their power supply disrupted,” he said.
“We need to bring more (gas) supply into the market. I think most economists recognise that.”
Albanese responded on Friday morning and said the coalition hadn’t outlined any plan for the future.
“It’s the first budget reply I’ve seen where there were no new initiatives, no new policies,” he told Seven.
“He had nothing to say about the future, and Peter Dutton is going to have to do a lot better than that … we had a budget on Tuesday night that fulfilled all of our comments.”
The prime minister noted the coalition continued to support the first home buyer scheme that allows people to access superannuation, despite saying it would lift house prices while damaging people’s retirement funds.
The opposition leader used Thursday’s speech to further back controversial stage three tax cuts, scheduled to take effect in 2024.
While the policy – legislated by the former coalition government – had been criticised as providing tax cuts to wealthy Australians, Mr Dutton said it would provide further financial relief to millions of Australians.
“You should keep more of what you earn, hard-working Australians should be rewarded. The best reward for hard work is lower taxes,” he said.