Treasurer hints at petrol relief in Budget

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has given his strongest indicator yet that the fuel excise may be cut in tonight’s Federal Budget.

The excise sits at a whopping 44 cents per litre and is the only part of the price you pay at the pump that the government can control. So far, the Treasurer has remained coy when asked whether the tax would be cut.

But speaking to the Today program, he has dropped the biggest hint yet that tonight’s announcement may be what everyone has been wishing for.

Read: Supermarket prices to rise even higher as diesel price soars

“The barrel of oil is up by 50 per cent since the start of the year, that’s flowing through to the bowser here at home,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“We recognise that pressure; we will be providing relief for cost of living on Tuesday night.”

He denied the move was a ploy to win votes ahead of the election in May. The Coalition trails Labor in opinion polls and the Budget will play a key role in deciding the election outcome.

“The measures we have in the Budget are designed to not put unnecessary upward pressure on inflation that is already high right now,” he said.

“The measures to provide cost-of-living relief will be targeted, they will be temporary, they will be proportionate to the challenges Australian families face.”

Read: Tax rise in Budget being considered for everyday Aussies

What is still up in the air is the fate of the low- and middle-income tax offset (LMITO) – the tax break enjoyed by more than 10 million Australians.

While the Treasurer has repeatedly said the LMITO was only a temporary measure, giving millions of Australians an effective tax rise so close to an election may be poison at the polls.

Labor says that although it won’t stand in the way of passing any fuel excise cuts or other cost-of-living measures, it is concerned the government’s generosity will be short-lived.

Read: Spiralling petrol costs fuel inflation fears

“The Budget needs to help Australian families through difficult times and not just help the government through an election,” shadow treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers told the ABC.

In addition to a potential petrol sweetener, the government is expected to unveil an initiative targeted at getting more older Australians with disabilities back into work.

The $44 million program would provide $10,000 to employers who take on seniors with disabilities.

“It’s important because these workers with a disability as seniors are very valuable members of our workforce and businesses are incentivised to take them on,” Mr Frydenberg told Sky News.

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Written by Brad Lockyer

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