Four million Australians are set to benefit from a cash handout from the Federal Government to ease the burden of rising electricity costs when the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hands down the Budget on Tuesday.
Worth $75 for singles and $125 for couples, the one-off Energy Assistance Payment will be handed down to those struggling most such as single parents, age pensioners, veterans, carers, and those on the Disability Support Pension before July.
“This is acknowledgement that there are cost of living pressures and this support is going to go to around 4 million Australians. This is money going to go into people’s pockets to help meet the cost of their next power bill,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“At the same time, we are taking action on a number of fronts to reduce energy prices. Last year we saw prices come down in July, on January 1 we saw standing offers come down by about 15 per cent and then from July 1 we are putting in place a default price.”
Mr Frydenberg said it’s just one of a number of measures in his first Budget that will ease the cost of living pressures, which suggests the Coalition may be planning more handouts to lure voters in the lead up to the May election.
Mere election ploy?
But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has labelled the energy cash giveaway an “election con” that won’t address years of rising power prices.
“$1.45 a week for 12 months is not an energy policy, it’s an election con. Does anyone think you’d be getting this if you weren’t six weeks before an election?” he said.
“It shows the Government knows they don’t have an energy policy but they want to pretend to have one.”
Mr Frydenberg denied the measure was a cash splash, describing the one-off payment as “responsible, targeted spending”.
“This is not a time for cash splashes. This is a time for responsible, targeted spending in key areas that will lift the productive capacity of the economy,” he said.
“This budget is focused on growing the economy so we can secure a better future for all Australians and to repair the nation’s finances given we were left enormous debt by Labor.”
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