Anthony Albanese flags cost of living relief for Australians

Anthony Albanese has opened the door to new cost of living measures for struggling families in the May budget amid soaring rents and mortgage increases.

The Prime Minister has dangled the hope of further relief at a press conference in Sydney where he signalled he remained “positive” about the New Year.

“Our priority will be to provide cost of living relief whilst taking pressure off inflation,” Mr Albanese said.

“I have asked Treasury and Finance to come up with further propositions that we’ll consider in the lead-up to the May budget this year.”

Pressed on the measures he is considering, Mr Albanese said “what we want is to take pressure off people who are feeling pressure as a result of global inflation”.

“This has had an impact. Australians, of course, were hit by the pandemic and then they were hit by global inflation, which was a result of two global impacts,” he said.

“One was the ongoing supply issues, related to the pandemic, and the second, of course, was the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine that had an impact on prices here as they did right around the world.

“So we’re very conscious about those cost-of-living pressures. That’s why we have introduced a range of measures, including fee-free TAFE, but in addition to that, our energy price relief plan, our plan that has made an enormous difference in reducing the price of medicines.

“That’s why we’ve also undertaken increases in rent relief, for example – the largest increase in rent assistance for 30 years, along with other measures that we took assisting single mums.”

Asked if there would be an election this year, Mr Albanese said it was his personal preference that federal governments go longer, not shorter.

“The federal election is due in May 2025,” he said.

“I think that our terms are too short with just three years. It’s been a couple of attempts to – there’s been a couple of attempts to fix that in the past and it’s very difficult to change.”

In his first press conference of the year, Mr Albanese refused to rule out a “cover up” over the failure to hand over Howard Government-era documents covering the Iraq war.

The Morrison Government failed to hand over secret Howard-era cabinet documents compiled during the 2003 Iraq war to the National Archives of Australia for potential release, it has been revealed.

Asked about whether or not it could involve a “cover up”, the Prime Minister refused to shut down the speculation. The “oversight” was previously blamed on Covid.

“Well, that’s why we have asked (former ASIO chief) Dennis Richardson to do the review,” he said.

“I’m not aware of the circumstances, obviously. I wasn’t a member of the Cabinet or the NSC in 2003. There is no more respected civil servant than Dennis Richardson, and he will report within the next two weeks about these circumstances.

“We need transparency and there is a need for the release of these documents.”

More to come

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