Social benefits will add $33 billion to Albanese’s first budget

An additional $33 billion ($21 billion) will go to pensions and other social benefits in Australia’s federal budget, with inflation largely responsible for rising social costs.

Labor Party Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the government needed to find billions in extra money because social benefits are indexed to inflation.

“One of the pressures on the budget is to make sure that we can find room for this indexation so that people who receive pensions and payments get a little help twice a year to try to keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living,” Chalmers told ABC News.

He said about a third of the additional $33 billion would go to superannuation and another third to JobSeeker payments.

The Albanian government presents its first budget in a context of galloping inflation which is expected to peak at 7.75%.

The latest round of flooding is expected to keep inflation higher for longer by driving up commodity costs.

Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said high inflation was leading to the fastest and most continuous monetary policy tightening in decades.

He said this was putting real pressure on households, but the budget should stick to modest, targeted relief in the cost of living that would not drive up inflation.

“The right answer to that in Tuesday night’s budget is a responsible budget, a budget that doesn’t add inflationary pressure,” he told reporters in Perth.

Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor has said the government is giving up on managing cost of living pressures.

“They’re saying they’re going to cut 150,000 jobs, they seem to be forgoing real wage increases in this election cycle,” he told ABC News.

“It’s incredibly disappointing,” he said.

The Albanian government has also released details of its “family-friendly” budget, which includes a plan to extend the paid parental leave scheme from 20 to 26 weeks.

In addition, new rules will open the Commonwealth’s extended parental pay scheme to more families.

From July next year, parents hoping to access the scheme will be assessed on the basis of dual income, with a combined threshold of $350,000 (US$222,500).

Parents were previously assessed on their individual income.

During the last election, the previous coalition government also promised to change the income thresholds.

Under the Albanian government’s new scheme, parents will be able to take their leave at the same time and the rules will be changed to allow parents whose partners do not meet the residency requirements to more easily access the scheme.

The changes are expected to benefit more than 180,000 families nationwide.

The government will invest $12.4 million ($7.9 million) in playgroups and toy libraries as part of its budget support for families.

Labor has also promised to increase Commonwealth childcare grants for most families.

The government on Sunday committed $50m ($31.8m) to upgrade a zinc smelter in Hobart and another $50m to fund an Aboriginal cultural center in the West Australia in partnership with the state government.

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