17 May 2024

Federal Budget: Opposition Leader targets 'Canberra-centric funding' in Budget reply

| Chris Johnson
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Peter Dutton

Peter Dutton selling his Budget reply on morning television. Photo: Peter Dutton Facebook.

Peter Dutton has vowed to slash public service numbers to prioritise Defence spending and end what he describes as “Canberra-centric funding” from the Labor Federal Government.

In his budget reply speech Thursday night (16 May), the Opposition Leader labelled Tuesday’s federal budget as “one of the most irresponsible I’ve seen”, coming at a time when inflation poses a huge problem for the nation.

“On comparative inflation, Australia is worse than the US, Singapore, Germany, Spain, Japan, the Netherlands, Italy, South Korea, Canada, France, and the entire Euro area,” Mr Dutton said.

“The reason interest rates have gone up 12 times is because the government can’t control its spending – and because of its reckless energy policy.

“In three Labor budgets, the government has lifted spending by a staggering $315 billion – or $30,000 per Australian household.

“In the last 48 hours, every credible economist has issued scathing assessments of this budget because Labor has us in an inflationary hole and is still digging.

“Make no mistake, any further increase to interest rates and inflation also now rests squarely on the shoulders of this Prime Minister and Treasurer.”

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The Opposition Leader said “magic pudding spending” and $13.7 billion on “corporate welfare for billionaires” doesn’t help the economy or make your life easier for the average Australian.

The Coalition will support Labor’s $300 energy rebate, which will cost the economy $3.5 billion, “because we know Australians are hurting”.

But Mr Dutton said the government was treating the symptom, not the disease.

“Labor’s ‘renewables only’ energy policy is the reason your power bills continue to skyrocket,” he said.

The Opposition Leader also called for a reduction in migration numbers, saying that if he were elected prime minister, he would cut the number of permanent visas granted each year to 140,000 (currently at 185,000).

Mr Dutton said he would set an immediate cap of 140,000 for two years, then increase it to 150,000 in the third year and 160,000 in the fourth.

On other issues, the Opposition Leader said the Coalition would rein in inflationary spending to relieve inflation pressure—starting by not spending $13.7 billion on “corporate welfare” for green hydrogen and critical minerals.

“These projects should stand up on their own without the need for taxpayer’s money,” he said.

He would also remove regulatory roadblocks that force large firms to spend more than a billion dollars a year “policing the emissions of every small business they deal with” and condense approval processes to cut red tape on mining projects.

“I want mining to boom in Western Australia and around the nation,” he said.

Mr Dutton also promised to extend the value of assets eligible for the instant asset write-off to $30,000 and make it ongoing for small businesses.

“As each day passes, this government increasingly shows how disconnected it is from the views, values and vision of everyday Australians,” he said.

“Labor has forgotten the main principle of governing. It isn’t the people who serve the will of the government – it’s the government who serves the will of the people.”

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But he saved his biggest swipe for the end of his speech when he attacked the government’s spending on public servants.

Mr Dutton said the budget provided for 36,000 new public sector jobs over the forward estimates, whereas defence spending should be the priority.

“The government has announced an additional 36,000 public servants in this budget, costing Australian taxpayers $24 billion over four years,” the Opposition Leaders said.

“The Coalition sees areas like Defence as much more of a priority than office staff in Canberra given the precarious times in which we live and threats in our region.

“We will reprioritise Canberra-centric funding and make an additional investment in Defence to rapidly enhance the capability of our men and women in uniform.

“We’re working with leaders in defence industry to identify projects and investments that can be made in Australia to keep us safe in an uncertain world.”

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