Energy bill relief firming as a likely feature in federal government’s budget

Energy bill relief firming as a likely feature in federal government’s budget
  • PublishedMay 12, 2024

Further energy bill relief is firming as a likely feature in Treasurer Jim Chalmers’s third budget, as the government seeks to reassure Australians it will do more to tackle rising living costs. 

In a series of Sunday morning interviews ahead of Tuesday’s budget, the treasurer repeatedly pledged short-term cost of living relief, while also investing in the future. 

While Mr Chalmers hasn’t publicly confirmed another round of energy bill relief, he was at pains to point out the benefit last year’s bill relief had in curbing living costs and easing inflation.

“The cost of living relief in this budget won’t be identical to what we’ve seen in the past but it will be substantial. It will be in addition to that tax cut for every taxpayer,” he told Sky News.

“If you think about that electricity bill relief, in the year to March, electricity bills would have gone up almost 15 per cent if we didn’t act. Instead, they went up 2 per cent.

“I think that has shown our bona fides when it comes to easing these cost of living pressures where we can, so we’re part of the solution to this inflation challenge [rather] than part of the problem.”

In last year’s budget, 5 million households were eligible for up to $500 in power bill relief, while small businesses were eligible for up to $650.

When asked to define the main theme of the budget, the treasurer said the budget would be “good for mums and middle Australia, good for families, pensioners, students and young people.”

Coalition sets demands for budget

The Coalition has set its demands for the government, with Shadow Finance Minster Jane Hume adamant Labor would have “failed in its duty” unless it tames inflation.

“What we have seen from Labor to date is two failed budgets,” Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor told the ABC.

“They haven’t delivered this cut in homegrown inflation that we have seen under Labor, and the result is if we have another flop in this budget, Australians are going to pay a very very high price.”

The budget looks certain to post a surplus this financial year, which would be the second consecutive surplus under Mr Chalmers.

The Coalition accused Labor of posting a windfall surplus — thanks to higher than expected tax revenue and high commodity prices — rather than delivering a surplus on the back of structural budget change.

“What we have at the moment is a focus on windfall,” Mr Taylor said. 

He said Labor should instead focus on ensuring the economy grew at a faster rate than spending.

“We’ve seen spending growing in real terms much faster than the economy the last two years,” Mr Taylor said.

“We have seen a government that loves to spend.”

Billions pledged for health, housing 

Labor has previously announced a series of funding commitments in Tuesday’s budget, wiping away HECS debt, setting limits on how that debt is indexed and offering fee-free TAFE to help address critical construction worker shortages. 

On Sunday, the government confirmed among the $8.5 billion in health and Medicare spending, the budget would include $227 million for another 29 urgent care clinics.

The government has also confirmed billions of dollars for new homes will be in the budget — $1 billion will be spent on crisis and transitional accommodation for women and children fleeing family violence and for youth through the National Housing Infrastructure Facility.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese agreed at a meeting of national cabinet on Friday to also provide $9.3 billion to states and territories over five years to provide support for homelessness, crisis support, and to build and repair social housing.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *