Budget key to extending Albanese's political honeymoon

·3-min read

The Albanese government's second budget comes as Labor continues to enjoy something of a political honeymoon.

Having been elected just under a year ago, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his team lead Peter Dutton's Liberal-National coalition 56-44 on a two-party basis.

Voters continue to endorse Mr Albanese as preferred prime minister 54 per cent to 28 per cent for Mr Dutton.

At the same time, the Liberal Party has faced a series of setbacks at a federal and state level.

It no longer holds government anywhere on the Australian mainland, hit a record low primary vote at last year's federal election and lost what was considered an unlosable by-election in the Melbourne seat of Aston.

Mr Peter Dutton has seen his support fall to its lowest level since he took on the role, with a net satisfaction rating of minus 19.

He noted in a recent speech in Adelaide that political parties "need to go through lows to rediscover and regenerate themselves".

"Menzies knew this, Howard knew this, Abbott knew this," he said.

"It's in our darkest hours where we find the courage, the camaraderie, the commitment, the conviction and the confidence for revival, for resurgence and for victory."

Whether the Liberals can achieve revival will largely depend on how Australians sitting around their kitchen tables accept Labor's economic plan, the latest plank of which will be detailed on May 9.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers says cost of living support will be key in his second federal budget.

"Cost of living pressures are still coming at us from around the world and they are still being felt around the kitchen tables of this country," he told reporters.

The coalition argues Labor will quickly slip into a "tax and spend" mode, and this won't be welcomed by voters.

The opposition is concerned already-legislated income tax cuts - which will see 95 per cent of Australians keep at least 70 cents in every dollar they earn - will be abandoned.

A debate has also opened up on allowing people to use superannuation to buy their first home - something Labor argues undermines the principle of super being for retirement.

The government faces calls to boost support for the unemployed, single parents and seniors struggling to deal with the rising cost of living.

However, it has rejected a key recommendation of an economic inclusion advisory committee report, arguing that increasing the JobSeeker payment rate to 90 per cent of the age pension would cost $24 billion over four years.

At the same time, it faces rising costs in five key areas: health and aged care, the NDIS, defence and interest payments on a pile of debt heading towards $1 trillion.

It will roll out $3 billion in energy bill price relief, prioritising those on payments and pensions, with half the funding coming from state and territory governments.

The May budget is also expected to build on work already done - making it easier for pensioners to work more hours without losing their pension; improving disability employment services; and giving more families access to paid parental leave.

Mr Albanese says much of the budget will be focused on "repairing" damage done over the coalition's time in office, which involved letting many programs - from community services to research and national institutions - cease on June 30.

But it also will be a "budget of restraint", to ensure government spending does not push up inflation, which would be a sure-fire way of killing off Labor's political honeymoon.