Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for South Australia
Date: Wednesday, 30 March 2022
Craig: You’re waking up this morning thinking - okay, so what's in last night's federal budget for me, for you, for your family? What's going to cost less? What we can tell you is that fuel will, with the government announcing they will halve the fuel excise.
Loretta: When's it coming down? Let's find out. Simon Birmingham is the federal Finance Minister. Good morning, Minister.
Simon Birmingham: Good morning, Loretta, Craig and your listeners.
Loretta: Okay, when will fuel prices go down?
Simon Birmingham: Fuel prices will come down over the next couple of weeks. So the laws to lower the fuel excise by $0.22 a litre will pass the parliament today. They'll take a couple of weeks then to flow through to the bowser in terms of motorists seeing the difference. But we have put the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on guard. They are the consumer watchdog. They have powers to ensure that these sorts of tax cuts flow through to consumers. And so motorists should see about a $15 per fill difference in terms of going and filling up their car, once those flow through in the next couple of weeks.
Loretta: Why only for six months?
Simon Birmingham: This is responding like we did in COVID to temporary international crises and circumstances in a way that is responsible and targeted. What we've seen is that oil prices have spiked dramatically as a result of the war Russia is engaging on Ukraine. It's had a big impact around the world. We know that it's hurting Australians and Australian families and many others, particularly across regional Australia too, and so that's why we've put this in place. But we also know from all of the forecasts that oil prices are expected to stabilise and come down over a period of time. And so this six months is about making sure that support is there while prices remain elevated. But of course, for the long term, for responsible budget management, we also need to make sure the revenue streams are there to support critical investment in infrastructure, roads and the like.
Craig: There are a few short term sugar hits provided by this Budget, but what about long term change and for that I'm talking about housing affordability, even raising welfare payments for welfare recipients. They might get an extra $250 in cash, but at the end of the day they're still surviving on $46, $47 a day.
Simon Birmingham: Well our government has supported people who are on fixed incomes on the government safety net in different ways. We increased the Jobseeker payment only in the last year and that was the most substantial increase in many, many years. We provided changes previously to the way in which pensions for aged pensioners or veterans are indexed so that there are more generous indexation arrangements. And we saw the benefits of that flow through in terms of significant increases of some $20 for a single or $30 for a couple per fortnight increase to the pensions only in the last couple of weeks. These one off payments that we announced in the Budget last night, again are about responding to some of those temporary issues that we're seeing as a result of global circumstances, that the increase in petrol prices people have been living through in the last few weeks doesn't just hit them at the fuel pump, it hits in terms of their grocery costs and other elements of cost of living that those prices contribute to. That's why we want to make sure that that we give that extra support again, much like we did at different junctures during COVID, targeting it to those who need it most, making sure it's temporary so that it doesn't become an ongoing drain on the government's finances, which again in this Budget we've been very careful to manage and to bring down future projected levels of debt.
Craig: Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, thanks so much for joining us this morning on ABC Radio Brisbane.