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‘For all Australians’: Albo’s budget boast

ALBANESE PIX FAC
Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and Finance Minister Katy Gallagher with the 2024-25 budget papers. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says Tuesday’s federal budget will set up the nation’s future, while helping Australians struggling with the cost of living pressures now.

Describing it as “a true Labor budget”, Mr Albanese said Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ third budget was also about investment in Australia’s future – jobs, skills, infrastructure, housing, social care, health and education.

“It is a Labor budget through and through, because it’s a budget for every Australian, not just some,” he told caucus on Monday afternoon.

PRIME MINISTER LABOUR CAUCUS
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has told the caucus Tuesday’s budget was a good Labor budget. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Mr Albanese said he had “had a chance to have a squizz” and Australians would be happy with Dr Chalmers’ speech on Tuesday night.

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“Tomorrow night, I am sure that each and every one of you will be very glad that we are at this end of the corridor because this means that we can make a difference for the people that we want to represent,” he said.

“And our tax cuts for every Australian is a reminder that we want to represent and indeed, we will in tomorrow night’s budget, every single Australian.”

Mr Albanese said the budget was also focused on the future, and making decisions that would help the Australian economy grow over the next two decades.

“The decisions that we make in this decade will set Australia up for the decades ahead, and that is what a future made in Australia is about,” he said.

PRIME MINISTER LABOUR CAUCUS
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says Australians were being looked after in Tuesday’s budget. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman
PRIME MINISTER LABOUR CAUCUS
It will be federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ third budget since the Albanese government came two power two years ago. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

“I have had a chance to have a squizz. It has been put to bed and tomorrow night, when that happens, I am sure that each and every one of you will be very glad that we are at the end of the corridor because this means that we can make a difference for the people that we want to represent,” he said.

“And our tax cuts for every Australian is a reminder that we want to represent and indeed, we will in tomorrow night’s budget, every single Australian.”

 

A number of measures have already been announced, as well as Treasury’s surprising new forecasts for inflation.

The budget will assume inflation is due to return to the RBA’s target range of 2 to 3 per cent by the end of 2024, which would pave the way for interest rates to be slashed ahead of a May 2025 election.

The budget papers will show annual headline inflation, recorded at 3.6 per cent in the year to March, is expected to ease to 3.5 per cent by June and 2.75 per cent by December.

In comparison, the RBA last week forecast inflation to remain at 3.8 per cent until December before falling to 3.2 per cent next June and 2.8 per cent next December.

The Coalition is demanding answers and have brought Labor’s economic credibility into question after the government revealed its inflation forecasts were at significant odds with those of the Reserve Bank.

PRIME MINISTER LABOUR CAUCUS
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese enters the caucus room to discuss the budget with Finance Minister Katy Gallagher and Treasurer Jim Chalmers. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman
ALBANESE PIX FAC
Treasurer Jim Chalmers, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Finance Minister Katy Gallagher with the 2024-25 budget papers on Monday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

The spending decisions of budgets, including the electricity rebates and increases to rent assistance widely expected to be in Tuesday’s budget, are not factored into the RBA’s forecasts.

Opposition finance spokeswoman Jane Hume said Labor’s optimism was either because the government expected the RBA to do the heavy lifting with interest rates to keep consumption – and therefore inflation – down or it thought unemployment would increase.

She said it was “up to the Treasurer to tell us exactly how the government is going to bring inflation back down sooner”.

“Or is it because he thinks the economic conditions in Australia are going to worsen and that will dampen consumption? All of these things need to be explained by the Treasurer,” she said.

RBA
RBA governor Michele Bullock released the bank’s updated inflation forecasts last week Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short

Given Dr Chalmers said the focus of this budget was putting downward pressure on inflation in the near term, while also delivering cost-of-living assistance, Senator Hume queried how any of the government’s pre-election announcements could be driving inflation down.

“There hasn’t been a single budget announcement so far that has demonstrated that commitment to take inflation. The government seems to be on a spending spree,” she said.

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher defended the budget, saying the Treasury forecasts considered “all of the decisions we’ve taken in our budget”.

PETER DUTTON PRESSER
Opposition finance spokeswoman Jane Hume says the government must explain why the forecasts are so different. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman
CHALMERS PRESS CONFERENCE
Finance Minister Katy Gallagher defended Treasury’s forecasts. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

“It’s going to be a responsible budget. It’s going to put downward pressure on inflation. It’s part of the solution to the inflation challenge,” she said.

“You’ll see in the budget it will have a focus on ensuring that we’re continuing to be part of the solution, not part of the problem, in terms of moderating inflation while also looking at how we can assist with cost-of-living pressures for people that we recognise they’re under, and also turning our mind into the foundations for future economic growth.

“There’s a lot in this budget and we have been very mindful of the economic circumstances that we’re operating in at the moment. There’s challenges, but opportunities, in that as well.”

Senator Gallagher said the cost-of-living relief in the budget would reduce inflation but wouldn’t be drawn on what that might look like given the government has all but ruled out raising the Jobseeker rate.

“So housing, housing supply, the energy transformation, these are all things that government is responding to, but we’re responding to it in a measured way through each budget that we hand out,” she said.