PM hints at paring back budget spending

Scott Morrison has hinted the government could soon wind back spending measures ahead of the upcoming federal budget.

Speaking to reporters in Perth on Wednesday, the prime minister said the government aimed to return the country’s balance sheet back to where it was before the pandemic.

“Labor knows how to start spending but they never know how to stop. We knew we had to stand during the pandemic to get the economy through,” he said.

“We also know when it’s the responsible time to stop that and start returning the … government back to more normal settings and the treasurer will have more to say about that this week.”

It comes as Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese indicated they would seek to highlight cost of living issues after the budget at the end of the month.

Mr Albanese said the government had been complacent about the rising cost of living.

Despite calls for the government to cut the fuel excise in response to rising petrol prices, Mr Morrison has not said whether such a measure would be included in the budget.

It comes as the prime minister told business leaders the increasing demand for critical minerals would present new opportunities for WA’s resource sector in coming decades.

Mr Morrison told the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA on Wednesday the demand in critical minerals was driven by their use in aerospace, defence and other technological applications.

Ahead of the March 29 budget, Mr Morrison announced the critical mineral sector will be bolstered with a further $243 million to be spent across four projects in the sector.

The government is also providing a further $200 million over five years through its critical minerals accelerator initiative to support strategically significant projects.

The initiative will consider proposals ranging between $1 million and $30 million for each project, with the projects expected to contribute 50 per cent co-funding.

It is also committing $50 million over three years to establish the virtual National Critical Minerals Research and Development Centre.

This will drive breakthrough collaborative research, drawing together expertise from CSIRO, Geoscience Australia and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

“Our goal is to make Australia a critical minerals powerhouse in the new global economy,” Mr Morrison said.

“Critical minerals are key to a stronger economy for Australia, and key to a stronger future.”

Meanwhile, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is reportedly still considering extending the low and middle income tax offset, which is due to end this financial year.

It would give an eligible taxpayer an offset of up to $1080 for another 12 months.

 

Andrew Brown and Colin Brinsden
(Australian Associated Press)

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