PM spruiks cost of living measures

Anthony Albanese is defending the government’s financial aid for voters, as a senator’s suspension threatens to distract from much-heralded energy rebates and other support.

Australian households will shave $300 off their energy bills and earners will pay less tax under changes waved in at the start of the new financial year.

Workers on the award and minimum wages are also in line for a pay bump.

The prime minister fended off concerns extra money in pockets would add to inflationary pressures.

“I’m confident that this is real and substantial assistance whilst being responsible,” Mr Albanese told ABC Radio on Monday.

“We have almost halved inflation and that’s because of the discipline that we have shown in budget policy, where we have brought inflation down and where we have continued to make a difference.”

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said tax cuts, energy bill relief and making medicines cheaper were examples of effective cost-of-living relief.

“This is how you deliver cost-of-living relief, not with more expensive nuclear reactors in 15 years’ time,” the treasurer said in reference to the opposition’s nuclear energy policy.

But shadow treasurer Angus Taylor said government policies were keeping inflation high, dubbing it “Jimflation”.

“The real thing you’ve got to do here is deal with the source, not the symptoms, and beat inflation,” Mr Taylor told Sky News on Monday.

Monday’s July 1 changes competed with the fallout from Labor senator Fatima Payman’s suspension from caucus for crossing the floor to support a pro-Palestine motion.

Other changes enacted in the new financial year include a rise in the superannuation guarantee rate to 11.5 per cent, and cheaper medicines.

Paid parental leave has been increased to 22 weeks, and will rise to 24 weeks in July 2025 and then to 26 weeks from July 2026.

Under the Fair Work Commission’s annual wage call, Australia’s lowest-paid workers will receive a 3.75 per cent boost, taking the minimum wage to $24.10 an hour.

A world-first ban on manufactured stone is being hailed as a momentous day for Australian workers, which will prevent “senseless deaths”.

Engineered stone commonly used in kitchen benchtops left workers who used the product at risk of developing the incurable and deadly lung disease silicosis.

A nationwide ban came into effect on Monday after federal, state and territory workplace ministers reached an agreement in December.

The CFMEU claimed credit for bringing about the ban, saying it was the direct result of a national pressure campaign that targeted suppliers like Bunnings.

“Our union has stopped the asbestos of the 2020s in its tracks,” CFMEU national secretary Zach Smith said.

“This ban will save lives and protect workers’ families and friends from enduring more senseless deaths.”

Almost 600,000 workers were potentially being exposed to the silica dust contained in engineered stone, according to a Lung Foundation Australia estimate in 2023.

The federal government is also cracking down on vapes, restricting their sale to adults at pharmacies.


Poppy Johnston and Aaron Sheldrick
(Australian Associated Press)


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