Australian govt offers pension payments, tax cuts ahead of vote

Canberra: The Australian government announced it plans to give cash to pensioners and tax cuts to low- and middle-income earners ahead of May’s federal elections.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced on Tuesday cash payments to pensioners — such as veterans, single parents and disabled persons — of A$75 (US$53) for singles and 125 dollars for couples as part of a one-off energy assistance payment.
The energy payments will benefit some 3.9 million people and cost the government $284 million.
The government also announced immediate tax relief of up to $1,080 for single earners and $2,160 for dual income families that earn up to $126,000 per year. Some 4.5 million taxpayers will receive the tax breaks in the current fiscal year ending June 30.
The government also plans to lower the tax rate for everyone earning between $45,000 and $200,000 — about 94 per cent of Australian taxpayers — to 30 per cent from July 2024. Just last year, the government reduced the tax rate to 32.5 per cent for earners inthat range.
Federal parliamentary elections are slated for mid-May. The conservative government, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, has been lagging behind the opposition Labor party in opinion polls.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten criticised the budget, calling it “an election con.”“There is no plan for wages, no plan to tackle power prices, no plan to address climate change, and no plan for the future,” he said.
Australia’s economy has entered its 28th year of consecutive economic growth, expanding faster than all G7 nations and above the OECDaverage.
The 1.8-trillion-dollar economy is expected to grow by 2.25 per cent in the upcoming fiscal year, according to the government. — dpa