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Canberra, May 10 – Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday dismissed suggestions that the government’s signature cost-of-living relief package will fuel inflation.
Under the A$14.6 billion ($9.8 billion) package, which was detailed by Treasurer Jim Chalmers in the federal budget for the financial year 2023-24 on Tuesday night, welfare payments will be increased, more doctors’ visits subsidized and millions of households will receive direct energy bill relief, reports Xinhua news agency.
Addressing the budget session on Wednesday morning, Albanese said it was a responsible package that would help curb inflationary pressures.
“We wanted to take pressure off families whilst we didn’t put pressure on inflation. So, that’s why we have targeted relief,” he told local media.
“We’re dealing with a global economic challenge of inflation. So, what we did was to provide support to take pressure off people, as well as, though, always being conscious that it’s no good doing that whilst adding pressure to inflation, which is why we haven’t done that,” the Prime Minister said.
In addition to the cost of living relief, the headline item in the budget was a forecast surplus in the current 2022-23 financial year, the first in 15 years.
Responding to the improved position, Angus Taylor, the Opposition’s Treasury spokesperson, said the government has benefitted from high commodity prices and low unemployment rather than good economic management.
He said there were two dollars of extra spending for every dollar of revenue in the budget, which would drive inflation.
“There’s a huge commodity windfall. Well, also strong jobs market, of course, is a really important part of it and taxation is doing a lot of heavy lifting,” Taylor said.