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Dutton’s budget reply blasted as ‘show bag of slogans’

Bill Shorten and Peter Dutton clashed over the Coalition's budget reply on morning TV.

Bill Shorten and Peter Dutton clashed over the Coalition's budget reply on morning TV. Photos: Today screengrabs

Government minister Bill Shorten has lashed Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s federal budget reply as “a show bag of slogans and Band-Aids” in a fiery TV clash.

The pair met on morning TV on Friday, after Dutton unveiled his answer to Australia’s housing crisis the previous night.

If elected in 2025, a Coalition government would introduce a two-year ban on foreigners buying existing homes and cut the number of foreign students.

Reinforcing the proposals from his Thursday night budget-reply speech, Dutton said construction sector issues meant the government would need to increase supply via existing homes.

“We want the Australians who are living in tents and in the back of cars at the moment to take up the rental accommodation, instead of international students,” he told the Today show.

“It’s not that we’re against international students, but I think we’ve got to prioritise Australians getting into housing.”

But Shorten called the Coalition’s plan “lightweight” and noted fewer than 5000 Australian homes had been purchased by foreign investors over the past two years.

“I have to say it was it was a pretty lightweight presentation. It was more like a show bag of slogans and Band-Aids,” he said.

Dutton said his plan would free up much more than that in just its first year.

“We say that, in the first year, 40,000 homes will be freed up. That includes the numbers who would be bidding at auctions this weekend against Australian citizens,” he said.

“If the government had have adopted our policy over a five-year period, you would free up 325,000 homes. So the number of people who are foreign citizens, who are buying houses in our country is low, but nonetheless, it contributes to an overall shortage of housing in our country.”

The Coalition would also cut Australia’s permanent migration intake of 185,000 by 25 per cent for the first two years, before raising it to 150,000 and then 160,000 in the fourth year.

Jason Clare on Coalition's budget reply

Source: X

On Friday, deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley said skilled migrants would not be turned away under the plan.

“There will still be capacity to bring skilled workers in under our reduced migration numbers,” she said.

“I want to make that clear.”

The Coalition will back the government’s planned energy bill rebates, worth $300 for every household, but warned Labor was “treating the symptom” and not the cause of higher prices.

Dutton would scrap the $13.7 billion in tax incentives for hydrogen and critical minerals, the centrepiece of Labor’s Future Made in Australia plan, claiming the projects “should stand up on their own without the need for taxpayer’s money”.

He criticised Labor’s “‘renewables only” energy policy and said going nuclear was “right” for the nation.

But Dutton did not reveal details on nuclear energy and lower taxes – two of his biggest talking points.

Education Minister Jason Clare criticised the Coalition for not revealing the locations of nuclear reactors it proposed to build.

“This budget reply was just a nothing burger,” he told Sunrise.

Clare said Dutton “talked a big game” on immigration without providing detail on how a reduction of such a scale would affect the economy.

The housing crisis also could not be fixed just by cutting migration, he said, and the government needed to build housing.

In August, the federal and state governments committed to building 1.2 million well-located homes over five years. Demand is projected to grow by 871,000 by the end of this period.

But a report from the government-appointed National Housing Supply and Affordability Council has found the housing crisis will worsen and that the Commonwealth will fall short of its goal by hundreds of thousands.

-with AAP

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