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COST OF LIVING INCREASES THE TOP PRIORITY FOR VOTERS, BUT COALITION AND LABOR ARE COMMITTED TO HIGHER FUEL PRICES

6 May 2022

Independent Senator Rex Patrick today renewed his call on the Coalition Government and Labor Opposition to commit to a six-month extension of the fuel excise cut legislated in the Federal Budget. 

“With inflation surging to 5.1% and interest rates up for the first time in a decade, increasing pressures on household budgets make it imperative that the Federal Government extend the 22.1c a litre cut in fuel excise for an additional six months,” Senator Patrick said. 

“Families and small businesses are hurting, and the squeeze on household budgets is uppermost in their minds. Yet despite this the Coalition and Labor are currently committed to increasing fuel prices later this year.” 

A new survey of more than 3,500 voters by the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods shows that almost two-thirds of Australians think reducing the cost of living should be the next federal government's top priority. 64.7 per cent of Australians think the high cost of living needs to be urgently addressed. This issue ranks above all others. For Coalition voters, 60.8 per cent said this was the highest priority. Among Labor voters it’s even higher, with 68.8 per cent expressing the same view.

Senator Patrick said: “Australian families and small businesses are facing an acute cost of living squeeze. Voters have no hesitation in identifying this as their number one priority.”

“The Federal Government obviously needs to take further action to dampen inflationary pressure through 2022-23, yet neither the Coalition nor Labor have been prepared to commit to what is an obvious and effective measure, an extension of the fuel excise cut.” 

“The Government’s budget agreement to my calls for a 50% cut in fuel excise was a big win for motorists and a great demonstration of the influence of independents in Federal Parliament.”

“However it was clear then, and it’s even more clear now, that a six month cut in the fuel excise, half the duration of what I proposed, is not enough. The Russia-Ukraine conflict won’t be resolved any time soon. Global energy markets are likely to continue in a state of uncertainty with a significant risk of further price spikes ahead. China’s COVID lockdowns are likely to continue to disrupt global supply chains.”

“In these circumstances rising prices aren’t going to go away anytime soon and further inflationary pressures and interest rate rises are likely through the 2022-23 financial year.” 

“As things stand today, petrol prices will jump 22.1 cents a litre when the current fuel excise reduction ends on 28 September.”

“Such a price spike will increase inflationary pressure through higher prices all the way along supply chains to consumers.” 

“Not extending the fuel excise rebate is a recipe for more protracted inflation, higher pressures and more sustained pressure on household budgets.” 

"Both the Coalition and Labor need to make it absolutely clear whether, if elected to government, they will legislate to extend the current 22.1c a litre reduction for at least another six months, that is until the end of March 2023, and indeed perhaps until the end of the 2022-23 financial year.”

“Regrettably, the inflation genie is out of the bottle and it will take sustained effort to ease pressure on Australian families and small businesses.” 

"If re-elected as a Senator for South Australia, I’ll keep pressing the Government hard to help Australians who still face a triple hit from high petrol prices, increasing food and grocery costs and interest rate rises.”