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Dutton to lay out pre-election pitch

Written by on May 16, 2024

The Coalition’s budget reply speech is set to focus on addressing the cost-of-living crisis and attacking Labor on high migration numbers.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who believes Anthony Albanese could call an election within months, will use his speech on Thursday night to make a pitch to voters.

The Prime Minister has routinely indicated he wants to go to a full term, meaning the election will be held around May next year, but Mr Dutton believes that could happen earlier depending on what impact Labor’s budget has on the economy.

“I think they’ll go when they think they can win, and they’re more likely to be able to win if they can convince people that interest rates are flatlining or coming down, as opposed to going up,” Mr Dutton said on Thursday morning.

“Some people will be fooled by the $300 (energy bill rebate announced in the budget), but I think the vast majority of people will see through it, and I want to provide a much better alternative for Australians to consider at the next election.”

Earlier on Thursday morning, the Prime Minister was asked whether Tuesday’s budget was a “pre-election budget”, or whether voters could expect one more before they head to the polls.

“The next budget is due to be held in March, the election’s due in 2025. I think terms are too short, not too long,” Mr Albanese said.

Nevertheless, Mr Dutton said his speech would “lay out our vision for the country”.

“And how we can get this country back on track and help people again, deal with cost of living and deal with housing, and deal with health and many other issues that they’re facing,” he said.

Shadow treasurer Angus Taylor earlier gave hints as to what voters should expect, suggesting the “overwhelming focus” will be on addressing cost of living.

He also criticised the government’s $300 energy bill rebates for not being means tested.

The Coalition won’t stand in the way of the measure but he said there were “very serious questions” as to why millionaires with multiple homes were being afforded the same cost of living relief as low- and middle-income Australians.

“Is it that the government is trying to manipulate the inflation figures, so that’s why they haven’t means tested it? I don’t know,” he said.

“Why is this an efficient way to move money out of the door? Why isn’t there an alternative? We understand that Australians are hurting … This is a bandaid on a bulletwound.”

Mr Dutton is also expected to use his speech to criticise the migration intake.

While Tuesday’s budget forecasts the net overseas migration number will fall to half of the record 2022-23 figure of 528,000 by 2025-26, the Coalition says that is still too high, especially in the context of the housing crisis.

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The Coalition is particularly focused on international student numbers.

“It’s a phenomenal money making venture, but the trouble is that kids in Sydney can’t find rental accommodation,” Mr Dutton said.

“The international students with deep pockets are out buying homes or out renting accommodation which is part of the problem.”

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