A clash over who’s to blame for Australia’s cost-of-living crisis escalated on Friday, with the opposition accusing Anthony Albanese of neglecting surging living pressures facing households.
Acting Liberal leader Sussan Ley pounced on a pledge made by the Prime Minister on Thursday after he said he would prioritise living costs ahead of the new year.
“Our government understands the cost of living is the No.1 pressure on Australian families, which is why help with the cost of living is our No.1 priority,” Mr Albanese told the Melbourne Institute’s Economic and Social Outlook Conference.
Ms Ley, who is acting on behalf of Opposition Leader Peter Dutton while he visits India, argued Mr Albanese was “out of touch” after his overseas trip to meet US President Joe Biden.
“It‘s 530 days since the Prime Minister came to office and only yesterday he announced cost of living would be his No.1 priority. I think he is out of touch, has he been spending too much time in his jet?” Ms Ley told Sunrise earlier.
“Australians are being smashed by interest rate rises, rent rises, electricity rises, grocery price rises, fuel price rises, only to see a prime minister who is effectively throwing up his hands and saying ‘there‘s nothing more we can do to help you’.”
New data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Thursday showed living costs across the country had jumped by 2 per cent for the September quarter and 9 per cent compared with 2022.
This came as the International Monetary Fund urged the Reserve Bank to lift interest rates and asked governments to cut public infrastructure spending to help tame high inflation.
Education Minister Jason Clare said his government had taken action to address cost of living, citing Labor’s recent cuts to childcare costs, energy bills and prescriptions.
He added the opposition were “as useless as a chocolate teacup” in coming up with ideas on how to clamp down on living costs.
“Australians deserve better than the carping and negativity you get from Sussan and Peter Dutton and the opposition. Yes, people are doing it tough, and we should be working together,” Mr Clare said.
When asked if his government would consider a temporary cut to the fuel excise, the minister said it “was not something” Labor was considering at the moment.
ABS figures released last week showed petrol prices rose by 7.2 per cent in the last financial quarter, prompting calls to give temporary relief to motorists.
“As I said, there are a number of measures that we’ve taken already,” Mr Clare said.