Voters’ reaction to budget revealed as Chalmers hits the road
Dr Chalmers will be pounding the pavement for this week's sales pitch to voters.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers will hit the road this week to sell voters on a budget that a poll finds has drawn a muted response from voters but which has scored better than most handed down by Labor governments.
A Newspoll published in The Australian on Monday shows Labor’s two-party-preferred lead contracted by one percentage point.
The Albanese government maintains a healthy lead of 55 to 45 per cent.
The margin of error for the poll was not mentioned but typically stands at about 3 per cent in Newspoll surveys.
A total of 33 per cent of respondents said the budget would have a positive impact on the economy, against 28 per cent who said the reverse, a net positive of 5 per cent.
On the question of whether the opposition would have done a better job, 49 per cent of voters said no, while 35 per cent said yes.
Independent polling expert Kevin Bonham said these scores were above the average given by Newspoll respondents for a budget handed down by a Labor government.
“There’s a long-standing pattern that Labor budgets on average rate worse than Coalition budgets,” he wrote.
“For instance, Newspoll respondents have never given a Labor budget a net plus on being good for them personally.
“This one has actually rated better than the average ALP budget over the years.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s approval rating improved two points to 56 per cent while Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s lifted by one point to 29 per cent, the Newspoll found.
Dr Chalmers will go on tour this week in the name of boosting those figures and public perceptions of his second budget.
A $14.6 billion cost-of-living package is at the centre of the budget, including $3.5 billion for expanded bulk-billing subsidies for millions of Australians.
“Our budget sees people through difficult times and sets our country up for the future,” Dr Chalmers said.
“We understand that people are under the pump.
“My job this week is to tell more people how our investments in the budget can help.”
Aside from out-of-pocket health costs, the package also includes programs for reducing the price pressures of power bills and paying rent at a time of stubborn inflation.
But the budget also cuts spending this year when inflation is at its highest to deliver a $4.2 billion surplus that Dr Chalmers has described as the “biggest budget turnaround on record”.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton used his budget reply speech last week to voice his support for adding nuclear energy to Australia’s future power supply and to unveil a policy for banning gambling advertisements during televised sporting fixtures.
But Mr Dutton lent partial support to measures in the budget, including widening the length of time for which single parents receive income-support payments.
The Opposition Leader did not back a modest, $20-a-week lift to the JobSeeker allowance despite calls from economists, who said the payment had fallen starkly behind other welfare payments over decades.
Dr Chalmers criticised Mr Dutton’s suggestion that the budget favoured the recipients of income-support payments but neglected a group of voters described as the “working poor”.
The Treasurer teed off on a “predictable combination of division and dishonesty”, which was remindful of politics as practised by Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott.
“There are people doing it tough, and they are the motivation behind all of our efforts to get wages moving again, half a wasted decade of wage stagnation and deliberate suppression by our predecessors,” Dr Chalmers said.
Mr Dutton has proposed an increase to the maximum number of hours those on welfare could work before they would lose any financial benefits.
Dr Chalmers said on Sunday that the government was considering policies to increase participation in the economy generally.
Mr Dutton has said he will announce his position on raising the rate of JobSeeker clear once the government responds to his stance on working hours.