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Budget Reply, The Hon Peter Dutton MP

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

On Tuesday night, the Treasurer spoke for 30 minutes about our country’s future.

Australians listened intently in the hope that the promised cost-of-living relief would be delivered.

It wasn’t – and millions of Australians have every right to be disappointed with this Government.

I’ve been around parliament for over two decades.

Sometimes, the most important thing about a Budget speech is not what the Treasurer says, it’s what he doesn’t say and tries to keep hidden in the Budget Papers.

Here are five things the Treasurer failed to mention which are important to all Australians:

  • 10 million Australians who earn under $126,000 will face a tax hike and around 175,000 more Australians will be unemployed.
  • Millions of middle Australians – the backbone of our country – are worse off. This Government is spending an additional $185 billion, yet middle-income Australians won’t receive one cent.
  • Amidst a housing and rental crisis, our migration numbers will increase massively by 1.5 million people over five years – the highest number in our country’s history and more than the population of Adelaide. Without addressing housing supply and infrastructure, where will these people live?
  • Your power bills are still going up by more than $500.
  • As a result of the Government’s policies, inflation will only stay higher for longer, continuing to grind down real incomes of households.

Just as Labor withholds the truth, it also breaks its promises.

In the last 12 months, this Government has broken 12 promises to the Australian people.

Above all, it promised Australians would be better off…

It promised cheaper mortgages…

It promised no changes to your super…

It promised that your taxes wouldn’t increase but that your real wages would…

It promised a nurse in aged care homes 24/7…

And it promised a $275 dollar cut to your power bill on 97 occasions.

Labor will say anything to get into power.

Once in government, they do the opposite.

Tonight, the Coalition remains focused on strengthening the economy…

Making sure that our hard-working middle class can get ahead and do not become Labor’s working poor…

And keeping Australia safe and secure.

# # #

Good economic management and managing budgets is important to the Coalition and to your family.

Not as an end in itself, but because it can pay for outcomes that help people.

We want to help those in need.

We want to give people choices in their own lives.

We believe in lower taxes to allow Australians who work hard to keep more of their own money.

The Government’s budget is no different to the budget of your family or small business.

I hate seeing families hurting under Labor’s mismanagement.

Families working hard, but barely keeping their heads above water.

It was like this when I was growing up and Labor was in power.

Dad – a bricklayer – and Mum – a day care mum – worked incredibly hard.

They didn’t have much money.

I remember the difficult conversations around our dinner table as we pored over the family budget trying to find ways to pay the next bills and cut back expenses.

Every dollar mattered.

And it does again today.

Today, millions of Australians – in their homes and businesses – are having similar conversations.

The only money the Government earns is from taxes paid by you.

That money needs to be spent wisely.

The Government has benefited from the last nine years of Coalition strong economic management.

The books they inherited had the lowest unemployment rate in almost 50 years.

We created almost 2 million jobs over nine years.

We bequeathed interest rates at historic lows.

Of course, Labor has also benefited from company tax receipts and the revenue generated from soaring coal, gas and other mining commodities.

It’s a sector they give little support to publicly, but a sector from which they’re always willing to spend the benefits.

Given the revenues from mining and tax receipts in this Budget, there should be a surplus next year as well.

But, as we move further away from the Coalition years, this Budget projects that the economic numbers increasingly deteriorate.

There’s more spending than the Government earns.

And that’s exactly what always gets Labor governments into trouble.

We don’t need 10,000 more public servants in Canberra on top of the already 181,000 public servants.

We don’t need Labor’s truckie tax, because transport companies will pass it on in higher prices paid by you.

We don’t need inflationary spending.

But we do need more spending in aged care.

And we support the Budget measures in aged care – which build on the $30 billion we invested in government.

Australians who have worked hard, raised a family and paid taxes deserve a dignified and respectful life as they age.

The aged care system has been under strain for decades and we support the additional investment.

It’s incredibly important – given the increasing need – to take care of elderly Australians.

For example, those diagnosed earlier in life with dementia.

Like many Australians, I know only too well the terrible impacts of such diseases on beloved family members.

Aged care funding is not a magic pudding.

A respectful, dignified, world-class aged care system is only funded by residents or taxpayers.

I want to work with the Government to ensure that our aged care system remains sustainable.

I am a person of my word.

And, as I stated in my last Budget in Reply, we support sustainable funding in the NDIS.

This Budget shows the Government reducing NDIS spending growth.

And I call on the Government to outline how this will be achieved.

NDIS participants and their families deserve to know.

# # #

We live in the best country in the world.

But at the moment, millions of Australians are hurting and have been forgotten by this Government.

They’re feeling the pain of the cost-of-living crisis.

As well as the Government’s energy policy crisis – which is just driving electricity and gas bills higher and higher every day.

In this Budget, despite the Government’s energy polices, your electricity bill is still going up by more than $500.

Yet, you were promised on 97 occasions by this Prime Minister they would go down by $275.

I would love to see a copy of anyone’s power bill that’s gone down by $275 since Mr Albanese made that promise.

Moreover, Labor promised that the average household’s power bills would be around $1,200 in 2024-25.

Based on forecasts in the Budget, they will be in excess of $2,000 per annum.

Australians thought there was help on the way in this Budget.

But a family with children – and a mortgage – is $25,000 worse off under Labor.

Very few Australians can say they are better off today than they were 12 months ago when Labor was elected.


As I said in my Budget Reply last year, we will support good policy and stand against bad policy.

In the October Budget, we supported several of the Government’s measures.

We’ve also provided bipartisan support on the AUKUS security deal.

And we’ve supported almost 70 pieces of legislation since Labor formed Government.

In this Budget, we also support several measures:

Increasing bulk-billing incentives…

Expanding the Parenting Payment…

And the additional investment in women’s safety and implementation of the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children – which builds on the $3.5 billion the Coalition invested in women’s safety initiatives.


Australians give new governments the benefit of the doubt.

But think of how hard Labor has made things after just one year.

Australians around our country are grappling with mounting costs.

Your mortgage repayments, gas and electricity bills, supermarket and petrol station receipts, and insurance premiums are the evidence.

The number of businesses which have gone into insolvency have almost doubled in a year.

And the problem is Labor’s inflation.

At 7 per cent, it’s well above the 2 to 3 per cent target.

International factors feed into inflation – like the war in Ukraine – but the main ingredient is the domestic factors.

If domestic inflation wasn’t a factor, Australia’s inflation would be comparable across like economies.

But it’s not.

At 6.6 per cent, Australia’s core inflation – the best measure of inflation – is higher than every G7 nation.

The Government has taken decisions – and avoided others – which has made inflation higher than it needs to be.

It often happens when Labor is in power because they can’t manage money.

Labor recklessly spends, carelessly cuts and inadequately saves.

When you hear the Government constantly blaming Putin’s invasion for inflation, they are being deceptive.

Australia’s inflation woes are of Labor’s own making.

Inflation is coming from Canberra.

And Labor’s big spending Budget will only fuel inflation and make life harder for millions of Australians.

As soon as they were released from the Budget lockup, economist after economist stepped-up to the microphone.

They warned Australians that this big spending Budget was going to make the Reserve Bank’s job even harder.

Speaking on the Reserve Bank lifting interest rates, respected economist Chris Richardson said:

“I had thought that the Reserve Bank was done and dusted but this has notably raised the chance that they will do another swing of the baseball bat.”

Government spending will increase by a staggering $185 billion over five years compared to our last Budget.

The Treasurer’s cost-of-living relief is only temporary.

That temporary relief is targeted at Australians on welfare but at the expense of the many including Labor’s working poor.

It’s a band-aid now, but much more pain later.

And the Government’s spending is only going to fuel the nation’s inflation.

This Budget is a missed opportunity at economic structural reform and building a stronger economy.


The Albanese Government’s Big Australia approach will make the cost-of-living crisis and inflation worse.

We all support a well-planned migration program – and that’s the history of Coalition governments.

But over five years, net overseas migration will see our population increase by 1.5 million people.

It’s the biggest migration surge in our country’s history and it’s occurring amidst a housing and rental crisis.

Australians are struggling to rent or purchase a property now.

The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation estimates that 138,000 homes will be built in Australia in 2024, falling well short of current demand.

And the Government is now proposing to bring in almost 6,000 people per week, which will make a bad situation worse.

Cities, towns and suburbs are already choked with congestion.

Yet in this Budget – as it did in the last – the Government is cutting infrastructure spending already announced.

And it will take the axe to the Coalition’s $120 billion dollar infrastructure pipeline which was designed to bust congestion.

A Coalition Government will sensibly manage migration – as we have done in the past – in conjunction with proper infrastructure planning.

Tonight, I affirm our policy commitment to allow Australians to use their super to buy their first home – a policy which will particularly support young people and separated women.

Because the best way to empower Australians – to make them masters of their fate – is through home ownership.


Only a Coalition Government can reduce power prices because we have the track record.

Under the last two years of the Coalition Government, electricity prices went down by 8 per cent for households – that’s a drop of $128 a year.

In those two years, power costs also went down by 10 per cent for small businesses.

Minister Bowen was the worst performer in multiple portfolios during the Rudd and Gillard Government.

As Energy Minister today, his policies are driving your electricity and gas prices higher and higher.

On the 1st of July, power prices are set to rise by up to 33 per cent for almost 250,000 small businesses and 1.6 million households.

If you think you’re paying a lot now, you’re only going to pay more.

Labor clearly has us on the wrong energy path.

Australians deserve a much more honest, more sensible, and less emotional discussion on energy.

Because energy is crucial to our national success and security.

Three weeks ago, I visited SAFCOL in South Australia.

Tonight, in the gallery, is the CEO of SAFCOL,

Mr Andrew Mitchell.

It’s a great business, founded in 1945.

Today, they’re one of our biggest manufacturers of baby food.

They also produce packaged food like soups, stocks and sauces which stock our supermarket shelves.

SAFCOL purchases millions-of-dollars’ worth of produce from farmers every year.

We want businesses like SAFCOL to grow, to employ more Australians, and to export to the world.

In January, SAFCOL’s electricity bill went up by 120 per cent – it more than doubled.

With inflation driving up their costs, our food prices then go up.

And that’s exactly what is happening in supermarkets right now.

If companies shut-up shop on our shores and go elsewhere because of Labor’s energy crisis, we lose jobs, money and industries.

And global emissions will go up – not down.

In that scenario, no one wins.

Labor is being deceptive with its energy policy.

The scientific reality is that we must firm-up the energy grid when renewable energy is unreliable.

The latest battery technology installed in Adelaide – at a cost of $180 million – lasts for one hour.

So, whether you have 50, 75 or 100 per cent renewable energy, you still have the fixed cost of firming.

To distribute renewable energy, more than $100 billion will need to be spent on 28,000 kilometres of transmission lines.

These poles and wires will run through farming land, national parks and suburbs.

Aside from the huge environmental impact of this roll-out, every dollar spent will be passed onto you in the form of higher electricity bills.

We want to see emissions go down.

Indeed, between 2013 and 2021, the Coalition Government cut Australia’s emissions by 17 per cent while growing the economy and creating jobs.

Next generation, small modular nuclear technologies are safe, reliable, cost effective, can be plugged into existing grids where we have turned-off coal, and emit zero emissions.

In the 21st century, any sensible government must consider small modular nuclear as part of the energy mix.

Thirty-two countries – including Canada, China, France, the United States and the United Kingdom – use zero emission nuclear power today, including to firm-up renewables.

Fifty countries are exploring or investing in next-generation nuclear technology.

Oddly, Labor is happy for similar technologies to power our future submarines.

But it refuses to consider the benefits of onshore small and micro modular reactors.

With the Government against coal and nuclear, gas remains the only viable firming power.

Yet Labor wants gas gone too.

It’s undermining gas at every turn.

With interventions in the market with price fixing…

By funding activists to wage lawfare against new gas supply ventures…

In introducing a new carbon tax – three times more than Julia Gillard’s…

In pushing to electrify homes and businesses despite the exorbitant cost for families…

And by increasing taxes on offshore gas and oil projects in this Budget.

A Coalition Government will get more gas into the domestic system.

What matters is what works.


The key indicator that a government can’t manage money, is that it comes after yours.

On the eve of Easter, Labor axed the former Coalition’s low-and-middle income tax offset.

Around 10 million Australians earning under $126,000 will now be up to $1,500 worse off.

Labor has abandoned the Coalition’s tax cap of 23.9 per cent.

We will restore the cap.

Compared to our last Budget, over the next five years, the tax paid by Australians will increase by more than $300 billion.

In this Budget, Labor has slugged our farmers with a new $153 million dollar tax.

They will be forced to unfairly pay for the risks of international importers – especially at a time when our farmers and producers are facing more uncertainty with rising input costs and workforce shortages.

This tax will be passed onto Australians in the form of higher prices at the supermarket.

Instead of taxing Australian farmers, tonight I announce the Coalition will establish an importer container levy – as recommended by the independent Craik Biosecurity review.

Under a Coalition Government, Australian farmers will not be punished for the biosecurity risk others pose.

# # #

Labor has been silent on its promise to keep stage 3 of the Coalition’s legislated tax plan in full.

Our tax cuts will see 95 per cent of Australian workers keep at least 70 cents in every dollar they earn.

With about 400 days before the tax cuts take effect, there’s time enough for Labor to break another promise.

# # #

In this Budget, Labor has doubled the tax on Australians who have worked hard, sacrificed and saved to invest in their super.

This move will affect millions of Australians over coming years.

Including more than 2 million Australians under the age of 25 earning an average wage during their life.

This Government thinks your super is their money.

This tax is an attack on Australians who have worked hard and saved to support themselves and their families.

It undermines the fundamentals of our tax system in taxing unrealised capital gains.

Imagine your small business, your farm, or another asset will support your retirement.

Under Labor, you will pay tax on those things before you sell them, impacting your cash flow.

To those who have welcomed this tax, a word of caution:

Being spared by the Labor tax shark today doesn’t mean you won’t be on its menu tomorrow.

If Labor can’t keep its promise to leave your super alone, any super tax cap will not be set in stone.

# # #

Taxation is the killer of aspiration.

The working individual supports themselves, their family, community, fellow Australians and our country.

People should be rewarded for their hard work by keeping more of what they earn so they don’t become the new working poor.

The more you keep from what you earn, the less you’re dependent on the state.

And the more freedom and choice you have to realise your aspirations.

Be it studying, travelling, educating children, starting a business, owning a home, or retiring comfortably.

Your money is your money – not the government’s.

Under a Coalition Government I lead, your taxes will always be lower.


Good government prioritises the health of all Australians.

As Health Minister, I increased GP training places by 25 per cent to improve access to the family doctor and I established the $20 billion-dollar Medical Research Future Fund.

To date, 903 research projects have been funded into Alzheimer’s and many other diseases.

During the Coalition’s nine years in government, we listed more than 2,900 new and amended medicines – worth $16.5 billion – on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

We support the Government’s decision in this Budget to fund new medicines and general practice.

But there are many areas – two in particular – which Labor are not prioritising.

First, is mental health.

The Coalition increased the number of Medicare-subsidised psychological sessions from 10 to 20.

Labor dropped it back to 10 sessions.

We will restore the 20 sessions and subsidise them on a permanent basis.

I want an Australia where we support Australians who are unwell – not an Australia which leaves them behind.

And this is critical in the area of mental health.

Secondly, in the area of women’s health.

The Coalition has a proud record in committing funding for endometriosis, stillbirths, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Tonight, I confirm our commitment of investing $4 million to Ovarian Cancer Australia after they were forgotten by this Government.

In addition, I announce a Coalition Government will allocate $5 million to review women-specific health items on the Medicare Benefits Schedule and corresponding treatments on the PBS.

The review will identify what best-practice women specific medical services are not listed.

And ensure clinically-effective services and treatments are affordable and accessible for conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome.

It’s about determining where additional funding is required to better support women’s health and well-being.

Better access to quality care for women specific pain conditions will improve women’s quality-of-life and economic and social participation for hundreds-of-thousands of Australian women.


As health will be a priority for a future Coalition Government, so too will community safety.

We will again fund the highly successful Safer Communities Fund.

This program supported at-risk communities across the nation and assisted multi-cultural communities to protect places of worship.

As a police officer, I attended my first domestic violence incident aged 19, and countless others over my decade-long career.

From that time, I committed myself to protecting women and children from violence.

As Home Affairs Minister, I funded and opened the $70 million-dollar Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation which has removed more than 500 children from harm.

Tonight, I announce that a Coalition Government will industrialise our law enforcement and intelligence strike capabilities against sexual predators online and in our communities.

We will double the size of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation.

I use this opportunity tonight to again call on the Prime Minister to hold a royal commission into child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities.

And I reaffirm our commitment to re-instating the Cashless Debit Card in communities who seek to have it, so that welfare payments can be spent on food for kids – not alcohol and drugs.

Its removal by this Government has led to increasing violence, particularly domestic violence.

A Coalition Government will impose more onerous obligations on big digital companies to stop scams and financial fraud.

Particularly to protect elderly Australians who deserve dignity and respect after a life of work.

If the internet influences our children, so does content on our television screens.

In our country, footy time is family time.

But the bombardment of betting ads takes the joy out of televised sports.

Worse, they are changing the culture of our country in a bad way and normalising gambling at a young age.

Many Australian families have had enough.

That’s why, tonight, I announce that a Coalition Government will move to ban sports betting advertising during the broadcasting of games.

Ads would be banned for an hour each side of a sporting game.

I encourage the Prime Minister to work with us on this initiative – to get it implemented now.


The best way to ensure Australians are getting ahead will always be a job.

This has been the guiding principle of Liberal governments dating back to that of our founder, Robert Menzies.

Jobs change lives, families and communities.

Australia has achieved what was thought impossible in the dark days of COVID:

Our unemployment rate hit a record 50 year low and has had a 3 in front of it for more than a year.

The labour market remains very tight with over 438,000 job vacancies.

After Labor’s much hyped Jobs and Skills Summit – and the establishment of the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee – there is nothing in this Budget to reduce barriers to work and get Australians into those vacancies.

There are over 840,000 Jobseeker recipients of which more than 75 per cent had no reported earnings – that is, no part-time work.

Which is why the Coalition would have thought, before increasing the base rate in this tight labour market, the Government could have instead increased how much people can earn before their welfare payment is impacted.

Increasing how much people can earn, before their benefits are reduced, incentivises job seekers to take-up opportunities.

It supports many small and medium-sized businesses across the country which are crying out for workers and have been left stranded by this Government.

If Labor had made this change, a job seeker picking up some extra shifts and taking home $300 a fortnight could still have retained the full Jobseeker allowance.

This is not dissimilar to the Age Pension and Veterans Work Bonus increase I announced last year – which the Government was forced to begrudgingly adopt.

We will support expanding eligibility for assistance for single parents – which Labor cut.

In recognition of the workforce barriers single parents and over 55-year-olds can face, we will support the Government’s assistance for these people.

We also support the increase to rental assistance – that is directly linked to rent paid.


As acknowledged by both the Government and our defence and intelligence experts, we’re living in the most precarious period since the Second World War.

Yet the Government hasn’t committed any new money to Defence in this Budget.

Instead, under the cover of Anzac Day, Labor chose to make cuts to our Army.

Labor’s reduced our Infantry Fighting Vehicles by 2/3rds and made cuts to the self-propelled howitzer program.

This leaves our troops and our new strike forces more vulnerable and lowers morale.

Such decisions are also a big blow to Australia’s defence industry, local jobs and global export opportunities.

In an increasingly uncertain world, it makes sense to invest in key defence capabilities to keep Australians safe.

I have always been prepared to make hard decisions in our national interest.

And under a government I lead, we will support – not undermine – the men and women of the Australian Defence Force.


Mr Speaker…

Australians will be disappointed with the Albanese Government’s second Budget which adds to inflation and cost-of-living pressures.

This Budget hurts working Australians.

Worse, it risks creating a generation of working poor Australians.

We will restore economic responsibility – by balancing the budget; getting debt, deficit and inflation down; and doing much needed structural reform.

We will lower your taxes.

We will bring back smaller government which stops interfering in your life and telling you how to live it.

We will pursue sensible policy.

And unlike Labor which shows favouritism to the few, we will govern for all Australians.

We’re just shy of the first anniversary of this Government.

And I leave Australians with this question:

Are you better off than you were 12 months ago?

You deserve a far better government.

And that’s exactly what you will get under a Coalition Government I lead.

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