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Peter Dutton claims Australians will not be able to eat after power bills go up

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has claimed some Australians may have to decide between “heating or eating” in the coming months, with energy bills set to jump amid a cost of living crisis.

Mr Dutton’s ominous warning about “increasing financial pressures” came in his reply to Labor’s first budget, which was handed down on October 25, in which he claimed the government has made “bad decisions”.

“In this Budget, instead of going down by $275 as promised, Labor’s plan will see your electricity bill go up by more than 50 per cent over the next two years,” Mr Dutton said in parliament.

“Not only that, your gas bill will go up by more than 44 per cent.”

Treasurer Jim Chalmers warned Australians to brace for energy price hikes of up to 20 per cent by the end of the year, blowing out to 30 per cent through 2023 and 2024.

Electricity prices are expected to contribute 0.75-1 per cent to inflation in 2022-23 and 2023-24.

Mr Dutton claimed “most Australians” couldn’t afford the predicted increases to their power bills, with pensioners, self-funded retirees, families and small businesses in particular in danger of falling behind.

“In Europe, we’re hearing about people – particularly pensioners and low-income earners – having to choose between paying their power bills or putting food on the table.”

The Opposition Leader slammed the October mini-budget, claiming it has “broken faith” with Australians.

“It’s a Budget which breaks promises, rather than keeps them,” he said.

“A Budget which weakens Australia’s financial position, rather than strengthens it, and a Budget which adds to – rather than alleviates – your cost-of-living pressures.”

Mr Dutton’s budget reply did not just contain criticism of the Albanese government, with the Liberal leader saying his party didn’t “disagree with everything”.
“We commend several good measures in Tuesday’s Budget: the extension of the childcare subsidy to Australian families, the commitment to reduce the PBS co-payment to lower the cost of medications, the support for housing our veterans, the initiatives to combat domestic violence, and the funding to help Australians recover from devastating floods,” he said.

The Treasurer said cheaper childcare would be the “biggest on-budget commitment”, with the government spending $4.7bn over four years, increasing the maximum rate to 90 per cent for first children in care and increasing subsidies for every family earning less than $530,000.

Labor also introduced legislation to parliament to slash the maximum general co-payment for medicines on the PBS from $42.50 to $30.

Funding for veterans affairs has also been boosted, with $4.6m to support a trial of an online tool to assist former armed forces to transition to civilian life.

Meanwhile, $1.7bn will be invested over six years to implement the new national 10-year plan to end violence against women and children.

However, Mr Dutton argued the budget was “failing” in terms of “energy, tax relief, housing, filling job shortages, industrial relations and infrastructure in our regions.”

Originally published as Peter Dutton’s extraordinary warning about power bills

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