Jim Chalmers saved a $20 billion budget surplus and scrapped more cost-of-living relief to help struggling Australians
Jim Chalmers defends $20bn budget surplus as ‘excess’ cost of living relief Treasurer announces new welfare framework
Treasurer Jim Chalmers has defended his government’s budget surplus as Australians grapple with a growing cost-of-living crisis and rate hikes.
Dr Chalmers gave a speech on the state of the economy at an event in Melbourne organized by the Brotherhood of St Lawrence on Tuesday.
He ruled out any new cost-of-living measures but revealed that a community welfare structure would be established.
It comes as the budget surplus ballooned to an estimated $20 billion, up from the $4.2 billion surplus flagged for the 2022-23 financial year in the last federal budget.
But the Treasurer insisted the surplus was ‘over and above’ the government’s cost-of-living measures.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers (pictured) defended the budget surplus and ruled out more cost-of-living measures during a speech on Tuesday.
‘We need to show, as well as say, that we don’t have to choose between being responsible with the budget and managing it with compassion,’ he said in his speech.
‘In fact, one makes the other possible. Rejecting this dichotomy – well-being versus prosperity; Society vs. Economy; Compassion vs. Responsibility.’
“Our efforts to strengthen the budget have not helped the people in any way.”
The Albanese government has offered up to $14.6 billion over four years in cost-of-living measures including bulk billing incentives, energy bill relief and a lift in jobseeker payments.
Both the Treasury and the Reserve Bank claimed that the measures were inflationary, primarily because the energy relief actually reduced inflation by 0.75 of a percentage point in 2023-24.
Dr Chalmers said inflation, which was 5.6 per cent in the year to May, was ‘moderating’ but would be ‘higher than we like, for longer than we like’.
He cited the 12 interest rate hikes by the Reserve Bank in the past 13 months and the economy ‘slow down’ due to ‘significant global economic uncertainty’.
‘The impact of high prices and a slowing economy is felt disproportionately by those who are already doing it the hardest,’ he continued.
‘In this complex environment, we need to reduce inflationary pressures by rebuilding our buffers for textbook fiscal policy.’
The Albanese government has delivered up to $14.6 billion over four years in cost-of-living measures including bulk billing incentives, energy bill relief and a lift in job seeker payments (stock image)
‘Finding ways to alleviate the stressful costs of living without adding to them. Meaningful tax reform to help fund our responsibilities.’
‘The most profitable upgrade is to give back to the bottom line. Focusing on where we can have the most positive impact, while minimizing real cost growth.
He revealed the Albanese government’s plan to establish a community well-being framework with 50 measurable indicators such as health and work-life balance.
This comes as a measure to help the government assess the impact of cost of living pressures.
The Treasury is expected to release the first economic stability statement in the next few weeks.
‘Responsible economic management and compassion are complementary, not mutually exclusive,’ he added.
‘Our hard-headed and warm-hearted government.’