Peter Dutton has blasted the new Labor government just four weeks after it took office and before a single session of Parliament has been held.
In a sign his criticism will be relentless over the next three years, the Opposition Leader said Anthony Albanese’s policies will cause higher prices in the shops, encourage illegal immigration and fail to bring down energy bills as promised.
During a press conference in Canberra on Thursday, Mr Dutton said Labor’s bid to increase wages will stoke further price rises and increase unemployment.
Mr Albanese (left) has welcomed a Sri Lankan family which has been fighting deportation back to the Queensland town of Biloela where they settled
Mr Albanese called for a minimum wage increase in line with the inflation rate of 5.1 per cent before the Fair Work Commission approved a 5.2 per cent hike – and he also wants to reform workplace laws to boost wages.
But, with inflation predicted to hit seven per cent in the June quarter, Mr Dutton has warned that Labor’s policies could damage the economy.
‘Mr Albanese has made a point during the campaign, an election promise that he made, that there would be real wage growth,’ he said.
‘So Mr Albanese has to explain how that is going to be possible in a high inflation environment.’
He also warned that Labor’s higher spending would ‘fuel inflation’. The ALP pledged to spend an extra $7.4billion compared to the Coalition over the next four years on Medicare, childcare and other areas.
‘At the moment, if you have a government that is fuelling inflation, I am sorry to say that interest rates will be higher because inflation will be higher if the Government is making decisions to spend more money,’ he said.
‘It will mean great difficulties for families and businesses across the country.
‘When we say that it will be tougher under Labor, it is going to be tougher under Labor if they make these decisions that aren’t in our country’s best interest.’
Peter Dutton (pictured today with former PM John Howard) has blasted the new Labor government just four weeks after it took office
On Wednesday workplace relations minister Tony Burke said Labor does not believe that wage increases should automatically be linked to inflation.
‘We have never said or implied there’d be an ongoing matching at wherever headline inflation was,’ he said.
Mr Dutton, who was elected Liberal leader unopposed after Scott Morrison’s defeat, also blasted Labor over illegal immigration.
Four illegal boats have arrived from Sri Lanka since the election as people smugglers test the resolve of the new government.
Arrivals have been sent back and Mr Albanese insists he will continue to do this.
But Mr Dutton accused Labor of abandoning Operation Sovereign Borders, the military operation set up to stop the boats under Tony Abbott, by scrapping temporary protection visas which were one of its three key pillars.
‘Boats coming out of Sri Lanka, that is of their own making,’ he said.
‘That is because they have responded in a ham-fisted way.’
The Opposition leader also took aim at energy minister Chris Bowen, calling him a ‘bad minister’.
Food prices are soaring with inflation hitting 5.1 per cent in the March quarter this year
Mr Bowen has been battling an energy crisis in his first few weeks on the job.
Blackouts have been narrowly avoided during a ‘perfect storm’ of coal power station shut downs, a cold winter, and soaring global gas prices.
Last week the electricity market operator made the historic decision to suspend the market so it could direct power to the right places.
Mr Dutton claimed former energy minister Angus Taylor also faced similar issues but was able to avoid disaster.
‘The same problems existed for Angus Taylor. He was able to stare down the excesses of the companies and the inadequacies of the regulators when they should have been acting.
‘Chris Bowen hasn’t done that and that is why we are finding ourselves in this position.’
Mr Dutton also said he does not believe Labor’s claim that power prices will be lower by 2025 – in just three years’ time – by plugging more renewables into the grid.
‘I don’t know how they’re going to do that,’ he said.
‘Don’t forget the Labor was last in power, electricity prices went up by 100 per cent… and they’re continuing to go up now Labor has come back into power.’
Mr Dutton warned that if energy prices get too high then Australian manufacturers will be forced overseas which will ‘cost Australia jobs’.
Both Mr Bowen and Mr Albanese have insisted its is absurd for Mr Dutton to blame them for the energy crisis less than a month after the election.
They blame the Coalition for not investing more in renewables over the past nine years.
Mr Dutton said he does not believe Labor’s claim that power prices will be lower by 2025 – in just three years’ time – by plugging more renewables into the grid