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Albo lashed for ‘billionaire budget’

Karl grilled Albo on Wednesday
Anthony Albanese has been grilled on how fair the government’s $300 energy bill rebate really is.

Labor’s political opponents might disagree on many of the measures in Tuesday night’s budget, but both the Greens and the Coalition say billionaires are among the biggest winners.

The dual cost-of-living centrepieces of Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ third budget are the revamped stage 3 tax cuts, which deliver a tax cut to every taxpayer, and a $3.5bn energy bill relief package.

The power bill rebate will shave $300 off every household’s power bills over the coming year – regardless of their income.

The rebates are on a per-household basis, meaning if a landlord has a tenant who is paying their own electricity, it benefits the tenant.

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Butif someone owns multiple properties without tenants, they will get the same rebate for every home.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said Labor had produced a budget where “the big winners are the billionaires”.

But he said the Coalition would support the legislation required to implement the measure, although he didn’t understand why high income earners needed to get the rebate.

“Clive Palmer would have a dozen homes on the Gold Coast. Good luck to him, he’s worked hard for it, whatever,” Mr Dutton said.

ALBANESE PIX FAC
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said all Australians deserved support. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

During their post-budget media blitz on Wednesday morning, Anthony Albanese and the treasurer were grilled over why the country’s richest would reap the same rewards as low- and middle-income households.

Today show host Karl Stefanovic questioned how that was fair when the Prime Minister appeared on the show, saying Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart and her cohort “don’t need support”.

Mr Albanese said the government wanted to deliver support across the board, just as it had done in its stage 3 tax cut revamp.

“How do you explain how Jenny from the block in Yorkeys Knob gets the same power rebate as Gina from Noosa?” Stefanovic asked.

“Well, I’m not aware of who Jenny and Gina are, but I’m sure they’re fine Australians. And you know what? They deserve support,” Mr Albanese replied.

Stefanovic did not accept his answer and pressed him further.

“So let me spell it out for you, Gina, as Gina Rinehart, does she need help with the power bill?

“PM, the reality is that there are a bunch of Australians who just don’t need the 300 bucks.”

Mr Albanese said: “This is the most effective way to deliver support across the board”.

“Gina, if she pays income tax, will also get a tax cut, as will every Australian, every single one of your viewers will get a tax cut on July 1st. And that is, because, right, throughout the income scales, there are pressures on.”

Jim Special
Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers clarified who gets the handout.

Stefanovic then asked if someone who has multiple homes will get multiple discounts if they’re with multiple power companies.

“Well, this is household bill relief of $300 for every household, every household gets it,” Mr Albanese said.

“So if you’ve got a if you’ve got a holiday house or you’ve got a rental, you get it at each household?” he asked.

Mr Albanese did not give a clear answer, responding saying: “Well, what that will do is put downward pressure on inflation. It’s expected that our cost of living measures will reduce inflation by one half a per cent in the coming year, three quarters of a per cent in this current year.”

Dr Chalmers later appeared on the Today show, where he clarified that it would depend on whose name was on the bill.

If an investor has tenants, the tenants get the rebate. If someone has a holiday home they don’t rent out, they get assistance for that too, he said.

He also said providing every household with the rebate was the simplest way to help.

“Relief is delivered via the retailers, they don’t have information about people’s incomes,”

“So you would have to take a long time and spend a lot of money and effort to design a system where the retailers get access to people’s income information. That doesn’t exist right now.”

The Greens also questioned why the government was rewarding billionaires.

“We know that the billions of dollars in handout that is are going to help people who already have three homes, to go and buy their fourth, fifth and sixth, are pushing property prices out of reach of first homebuyers and making life tough for renters. Labor has failed to take on the big problems,” he said.

Independent senator Jacqui Lambie took aim at the rebate, saying high income earners and the rich didn’t need.

“We don’t need $300. I can assure you. That should have been passed forward. I find it bizarre,” Senator Lambie said on Tuesday night.

“Are we back in Covid days? We’re just chucking money, left, right and centre. (The Albanese government are) too lazy to do some means testing.”