Opposition to support energy bill relief, other budget measures

Opposition to support energy bill relief, other budget measures
  • PublishedMay 15, 2024

Energy relief for every household, Commonwealth rent relief, cheaper medicines and HECS debt indexation changes are expected to pass parliament, with the Coalition to support the new budget measures. 

A $300 energy bill credit for every household, a 10 per cent increase to Commonwealth rent assistance and capped PBS medicine prices headlined the budget on Tuesday night, all aimed at easing living costs.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton says the budget had been described by economic commentators as a “disaster”, despite flagging support for some of the announcements.

“We’ll support those measures. Because I think a lot of Australians are hurting a lot more than what we might realise at the moment,” Mr Dutton told AM.  

The energy bill relief, $300 for households and $325 for around 1 million small businesses, will go straight onto bills. It’s an expansion of a 2023-24 budget measure that was limited to 5 million eligible households.

Other measures mean nearly 1 million people who receive the full Commonwealth rent assistance will get an extra 10 per cent in their payment.

Medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will be capped at a maximum cost of $31.60 for two years. Pensioners and concession card holders will pay no more than $7.70 per medicine for five years. 

LIVE UPDATES: For all the latest news about this year’s federal budget follow our blog.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his government had landed the difficult task of providing cost of living relief, while still putting downward pressure on inflation. 

It includes a $10 billion improvement in the bottom line, with the 2023-24 deficit forecast in December now slated for a $9.3 billion surplus. This financial year’s surplus is forecast to be the last for a decade, with deficits in the future years now tipped to be bigger than originally forecast. The deficit is forecast to be $28.3 billion next year and $42.8 billion the year after.

 Jim Chalmers holds a copy of the 2024 Budget papers as he arrives at Parliament House
Nearly 1 million people receiving the full Commonwealth rent assistance will receive an extra 10 per cent in their payment in this budget. (ABC News: Mark Moore)

NDIS backing, hints of housing in budget reply

The government plans to make moderate the growth of the National Disability Insurance Scheme to the tune of $14 billion over the next four years.  

Mr Dutton said he would work with the government to achieve that and had already sat down with relevant minister Bill Shorten to hear its plans. 

“If we don’t make the program sustainable, and direct the money to those participants who are in need of that support, then it will become unsustainable, and we’ve worked constructively with the government,” he said. 

“I’ve sat down with Bill Shorten to hear the government’s argument, and we’ll support good policy.”

Mr Dutton is set to deliver his budget reply on Thursday night. He would not be drawn on if his reply would include policy ideas and price tags.

“We’ll have a sensible look at how we can address Labor’s housing crisis that they’ve created and support families. 

“I think at the moment, people are very concerned that this is a high taxing, high spending budget. It’s going to make it harder for interest rates to come down and therefore harder for families to get on top of their family budgets.”

Other budget measures, already announced, include: 


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