Treasurer begins cross-country budget sales pitch

May 15, 2023 10:39 AM AEST | By AAPNEWS
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Treasurer Jim Chalmers is setting off on a countrywide trip to pitch his second budget, as a poll shows not all voters are convinced of its merits and debate continues on how to best support those on welfare payments.

Dr Chalmers began a five-city blitz on Monday to speak to business groups, unions and communities, starting in Sydney before moving on to other capital cities.

"Our budget sees people through difficult times and sets our country up for the future. It helps Australians doing it tough and makes significant inroads in cleaning up the mess we inherited from the coalition," Dr Chalmers said.

"We understand that people are under the pump. My job this week is to tell more people how our investments in the budget can help."

While the treasurer is looking to spend the coming days spruiking the $14.6 billion cost-of-living measures in the budget, he has declined to rule out an opposition proposal to increase the working hours threshold for those on JobSeeker.

The opposition wants people on JobSeeker to be able to work more hours before their payment benefits are removed.

Shadow treasurer Angus Taylor said his party's priority was getting people into work and seizing the opportunity opened up by record numbers of vacancies.

"There is nothing like getting a job to improve someone's life," he told reporters in Sydney.

Mr Taylor said the majority of people on JobSeeker were capable of working more than 30 hours a week.

"Once they're in a job that gives them great opportunities, then they can go forward and improve their quality of life," he said.

Dr Chalmers said the idea had already featured in the government's examination of employment strategies, ahead of a white paper on the issue to be released later this year.

Meanwhile, a Newspoll published in The Australian on Monday found 33 per cent of voters approved of the 2023/24 budget measures, against 28 per cent who thought they would be bad for the economy and 39 per cent who were unsure.

Also, 39 per cent of the 1516 voters surveyed between May 11-13 believe the budget will make inflation worse, while 33 per cent think it will make no difference and 13 per cent expect it will make inflation "better".

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the $14.6 billion cost of living package was designed to put downward pressure on inflation. 

"Treasury estimates that our plan for energy price relief will actually reduce inflation by three quarters of a per cent because instead of splashing cash, what we're doing is we're sinking the bills by working with state and territory governments and working with energy retailers," Mr Albanese told Adelaide radio 5AA on Monday.

On a historical basis, he said the May budget had been better received than Labor's last one in October as well as the coalition's pre-election efforts. 

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce said the poll result showed the budget "kind of flopped".

But 49 per cent of voters polled were sceptical that the coalition could have delivered a better budget.

Newspoll also showed voters back the Labor government 55-45 on a two-party preferred basis.

Asked who would make a better prime minister, 56 per cent backed Anthony Albanese against 29 per cent for Opposition Leader Peter Dutton.


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