Election returns to cost of living debate

The Liberal-National coalition is pledging to create 450,000 more jobs in regional Australia over the next five years.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will announce details of the plan on Wednesday, as Labor and the government are set to again clash over rising cost of living pressures, with the latest figures due to be released.

Mr Morrison said in a statement the jobs commitment to regional Australia was part of a pledge to create 1.3 million more jobs over the next five years, with more than one in three of those jobs to be in the regions.


“Only the Coalition has a plan for 450,000 new jobs in the regions and runs on the board to deliver them,” he said.

“Since we were elected, we have created over 1.9 million new jobs, and our unemployment rate is down to four per cent, the equal lowest level in 48 years, and forecast to fall further,” the prime minister said.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the Coalition government’s Energy Security and Regional Development plan would boost regional income and “create jobs for years to come”.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Labor had no plan for regional Australia or for regional jobs.

“All they have is a track record of increasing unemployment in regional Australia,” he said.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will on Wednesday reveal inflation data for the March quarter.

It comes as one-off $250 payments for six million Australians, including pensioners, carers, veterans, and job seekers will be made, with all eligible recipients expected to receive the payment by the end of the week.

The $1.5 billion payments are part of the cost of living package announced in the federal budget.

Mr Frydenberg said the government’s response to global issues placing pressure on households, including the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was targeted and responsible.

“Labor has no plans to help families with cost of living pressures,” he said.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers told AAP under the Morrison government everything was going up except Australians’ wages, with interest rates about to be part of the pain.

“A better future relies on a stronger, broader, more inclusive, and more sustainable economy – powered by cleaner and cheaper energy, a bigger and better-trained workforce, and key investments in the care economy, digital economy, and a future made in Australia,” Mr Chalmers said.

Mr Frydenberg said Labor’s $300 billion in higher spending would put upward pressure on inflation and lead to higher interest rates, while weakening the economy.

Mr Morrison and Mr Joyce are expected to campaign in Rockhampton on Wednesday, in the seat of Capricornia.

A $5 million upgrade to the Central Queensland Livestock Exchange will be announced.

Labor has been scathing of the government’s handling of relations with Pacific countries, especially its response to a security pact signed between the Solomon Islands and China.

On Tuesday It announced a major package of diplomatic and development initiatives for the region, as well as further defence partnerships.

Labor’s campaigning day is expected to start in Sydney.

© AAP 2022