Cost of living ‘not easy’, treasurer says

Josh Frydenberg says cost of living pressures are challenging many Australians as his government and Labor battle it out over their economic plans.

The federal treasurer wouldn’t say if Australians were better off after three years of the Morrison government but pointed to low unemployment, higher economic growth and hopes of real wages growth in the future.

“No one would say it’s easy now, what I’m saying is right now, it’s challenging for many Australians,” he told Nine on Saturday.

Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek pointed to rising out-of-pocket costs for Australians to access a GP as she raised fears of future cuts to Medicare based off old comments from incoming health minister Anne Ruston in 2015 that the scheme was unsustainable.

“It’s not a great record, the record speaks for itself,” Ms Plibersek told ABC News.

Meanwhile, Mr Frydenberg waved off concerns about his placing on the ballot in his seat of Kooyong at the upcoming election, with the treasurer seventh on the 11-candidate ballot while his high-profile independent opponent Allegra Spender took pole position.

“There’s the luck of the draw when it comes to the ballot, you just accept it and you move on,” Mr Frydenberg told ABC News.

As the two parties butt heads over Australia’s efforts to curb China’s expansion in the Pacific, Mr Frydenberg said the Solomon Islands got a “full court press” from Canberra even as it enters a new security partnership with Beijing.

Labor has jumped on the new revelations of the new pact, with Ms Plibersek saying the Solomons had expected more from Australia on climate change which was a national security concern for the country.

Elsewhere, Anthony Albanese is confident he will hit the ground running when he emerges from COVID-19 isolation next week, just in time for Labor’s campaign launch.

The opposition’s campaign has been dealt a major blow after Mr Albanese tested positive for the virus, with Labor frontbenchers stepping in for the next few days.

Ms Plibersek said her leader was “tough”.

“He’ll be campaigning, whenever his health permits, from his home base in Marrickville,” she told ABC News.

Labor is expected to campaign in NSW on Saturday during the second day of the opposition leader’s isolation period.

Mr Albanese will isolate at his Sydney home, before Labor’s campaign launch in Perth on May 1.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will spend day 13 of the campaign in marginal seats on the NSW Central Coast.

The Australian Electoral Commission on Friday finalised the ballot draw for all 151 lower house seats and eight Senate races ahead of the May 21 poll.

However, the commission referred former WA senator Rod Culleton to federal police for potentially making a false declaration on his nomination form.

Mr Culleton, who intends to represent the Great Australia Party, declared in his nomination he was not an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent.

The commission said it noted Mr Culleton was listed as an undischarged bankrupt on the National Personal Insolvency Index.

© AAP 2022