Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said some Australians may have to decide between “heat or food” in the coming months when energy bills rise amid a cost-of-living crisis.
Mr Dutton’s ominous warning of “increasing financial pressures” came in his response to Labour’s first budget, which was delivered on October 25, in which he claimed the government had made “bad decisions”.
“In this budget, instead of a $275 reduction as promised, Labour’s plan will see your electricity bill rise by more than 50 per cent over the next two years,” Mr Dutton told parliament.
“Not only that, but your gas bill will go up by more than 44 percent.”
Treasurer Jim Chalmers has warned Australians to brace for energy price hikes of up to 20 per cent by the end of the year, rising to 30 per cent in 2023 and 2024.
In 2022-2023 and 2023-24, electricity prices are expected to contribute to inflation of 0.75-1 percent.
Mr Dutton argued the “majority of Australians” could not afford the predicted rise in electricity bills, with pensioners, self-funded pensioners, families and small businesses in particular at risk of being left behind.
“In Europe, we’re hearing about people — especially pensioners and people on low incomes — having to choose between paying their electricity bills or putting food on the table.”
The Opposition Leader has criticized October’s mini-budget, claiming it “broke the faith” of Australians.
“This is a budget that breaks promises, not keeps them,” he said.
“A budget that weakens Australia’s financial position, not strengthens it, and a budget that adds to, not alleviates, your cost of living pressures.”
Mr Dutton’s budget response contained more than just criticism of the Albanian government, with the Liberal leader saying his party did not “disagree with everything”.
“We applaud several good measures in Tuesday’s Budget: extending the Child Care Subsidy for Australian families, committing to reducing the PBS co-payment to reduce the cost of medicines, supporting housing issues for our veterans, initiatives to tackle domestic violence, and funding , to help Australians recover from the devastating floods,” he said.
The Treasurer said cheaper childcare would be its “biggest budget commitment”, with the government spending $4.7 billion over four years, raising the top rate to 90 per cent for the first children in care and increasing subsidies for every to a household earning less than $530,000.
Labor has also introduced legislation to reduce the maximum co-payment for medicines in the PBS from $42.50 to $30.
Funding for Veterans Affairs was also boosted, with $4.6 million to support the piloting of an online tool to help veterans transition to civilian life.
Meanwhile, $1.7 billion will be invested over six years to implement a new national 10-year plan to end violence against women and children.
However, Mr Dutton argued that the budget “does not go far enough” in terms of “energy, tax relief, housing, tackling job shortages, industrial relations and infrastructure in our regions”.
Originally published as Peter Dutton’s emergency warning about electricity bills