Subjects: The election of Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP; cost of living pressures; the Prime Minister’s $275 broken promise on electricity prices; fuel excise.
On behalf of the Coalition, I congratulate Liz Truss, who of course is a great friend of Australia, she’ll be a great Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Liz has travelled here recently, obviously, and I had the great honour of catching up with her in my capacity as Defence Minister.
She understands our country, she understands the region, she understands the geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific and she will be a great ally for Australia. She has an enormous effort underway to try and address domestic issues, but it’s important that the West has strong leaders at the moment – at this point in history – and Liz Truss is certainly in that category. She’s a leader in the mould of Margaret Thatcher and I think she has an enormous amount to contribute; not just in the United Kingdom, but also to her friends and allies. I look forward, I hope, in the not too distant future, of catching up with her personally and I congratulate her.
I also send commiserations to Rishi as well for what obviously was a hard fought campaign and he’s a person of incredible character and tenacity as well. To go through that process, you must have that tenacity and he does in spades.
I also acknowledge the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his support. We worked very closely with he and his administration during the negotiations around AUKUS, and it wouldn’t have been possible without Prime Minister Johnson and with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, and many others.
They are great friends of Australia, and the relationship is in good shape and I want to make sure that we continue to advance that because it’s in our national interest to do so.
Mr Dutton, there is a report today, and it shows just how much stress cost of living pressures are causing for Australians. What more can the government be doing to alleviate that burden that we’re going to see added to, with another interest rate rise today.
Well look, I genuinely feel for families who, at the moment, are trying to work out how they’re going to pay their electricity bill. There is talk in our country of lights going out, like we are seeing in Germany, the pressures we are seeing on families in the United Kingdom at the moment; that’s essentially a picture into the future of what is going to happen here unless this government gets the policy settings right.
The Prime Minister promised on 100 occasions before the last election that the power prices of families would come down by $275. Now, he’s not mentioned that figure one day since.
We’re going to see an increase in the cash rate today. That will put extra pressure on families and there will be a lot of extra pressure over the coming months for those families who have been on a fixed rate, as they come off that fixed rate on to a variable, or a a new fixed rate package, they will see their mortgage rates increase.
It’s clear to me that this government has no plan to try and help the Australian families who are under pressure at the moment, and that pressure is mounting. Petrol prices are about to go up by 22 cents a litre when they end the excise and there is nothing here that the government is offering by way of support to families at the moment, only excuses. They promised before the election they had a plan and they’ve never mentioned it since.
There’s been a lot of discussion about these long-term solutions to alleviate the cost of living pressures, what could be done now to help with pressures from now until Christmas?
Well, the government can live up to its election promise. People voted for this government on the basis that they would reduce their power prices by $275. That was the solemn commitment the Prime Minister gave to the Australian public. He spoke about it, as I say – he and the Labor Party – on 97 occasions before the election. He’s not mentioned the figure once since that time, not once.
Now, we’ve asked him repeatedly about it during the course of Question Time. He’s got some sort of complicated answer to it, that the public just don’t get, and the fact is that here is a significant broken promise. So that’s the first thing they can do to try and provide some support to families who are struggling at the moment.
But if there are other sensible suggestions that they’ve got – they’re the government, they went to the election saying they had a plan – let’s hear what the plan is because at the moment families are suffering, when they thought the Prime Minister was going to deliver and he’s done nothing at all for them.
Do you support the fuel tax discount ending at the end of the month?
We’ll make our position clear in the run up to the next election. We’re three months into this term. We’re the Opposition.
Surely you have a position on whether the fuel tax discount should come to an end. Is it too expensive to continue it?
Well, that’s a question for the government. We’ll see what the government has to say in relation to it, what they believe in terms of the projections on the price of oil and, you know, the situation in Ukraine etc. All of that advice is available to the government. These are decisions for the government. We’re not a government in exile, we’re not in the Super League, we’re an Opposition that will formulate our policies in good advance of the next election.
But I do know that Australians voted for the Labor Party believing they had a plan to help them out with cost of living. This was all predictable and the Prime Minister said that he had a plan – he promised to reduce power prices – and Australians know that he hasn’t lived up to that promise. In fact the opposite has happened; their power prices are going up and up under Labor.
If you were in his position, would you extend the fuel excise past September though?
I think I just answered that question. All right. Thank you very much.