Dutton promises back-to-basics economic election plan

A coalition government would deliver a back-to-basics economic plan to rein in wasteful spending while delivering lower taxes and supporting small business, Peter Dutton insists.

On the heels of his controversial nuclear energy plan, the opposition leader reaffirmed his election priorities during a wide-ranging policy speech to the Liberal faithful in Sydney on Saturday.

"The next election will not only define the next political term, it will define the future and fate of this nation," he told the party's federal council gathering.

"I will lead a government for all Australians as we work together to get our great country back on track."

Cutting unnecessary spending and removing red tape for small businesses were key to the coalition's 2025 election plan, in a return to the roots of the party's favoured battle lines of economic frugality, Mr Dutton said.

Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton (file)
Peter Dutton says he will do what is necessary to help small business flourish. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

In an adversarial mood, he slammed the government for what he claimed was a cost-of-living crisis of its own making due to failed economic management and evidenced by inflation reaching record highs and two years of interest rate rises.

"Our country is in a per capita recession and has been for five quarters," he said.

"We need a back-to-basics economic plan."

Treasurer Jim Chalmers later returned serve, issuing a rundown of what he called "the reality".

Inflation was running at 6.1 per cent when Labor came to power compared to 3.6 per cent now, he said.

Australians were paying more tax largely because real wages were finally growing again, he added, while the government had found $100 billion in budget improvements since coming to office and delivered two surpluses in place of two coalition deficits.

"We won't be lectured on responsible economic management by the party that left us with more than a trillion dollars in Liberal Party debt, which we have been cleaning up," Dr Chalmers said.

Although not elaborating on the subject of government waste or what his party would slash if elected, Mr Dutton promised to remove regulatory roadblocks to allow small business to flourish, and doubled down on delivering lower and fairer taxes.

That pledge follows Labor's enactment of stage-three tax cuts to financially bolster Australians on lower and middle incomes but halve the break offered to wealthier Australians, which the coalition has called a betrayal of high income earners.

Mr Dutton wanted small businesses to know he had their back after the government had "decimated and demoralised" the cohort.

"As Liberals, we understand the positive economic and social impact of small businesses around our country," he said.

The coalition would seek to extend asset scheme write-offs of up to $30,000 and change the definition of a casual worker to a more "simple" explanation.

An employee at a restaurant in Brisbane (file)
The opposition says small enterprise has been "decimated and demoralised" by government policy. (Dan Peled/AAP PHOTOS)

Mr Dutton also told his audience the influence of the country's largest construction-sector union over the government was resulting in thousands of insolvencies.

"Taxpayers are not getting bang for their buck where the CFMEU is involved," he said.

He pledged to reintroduce an industry watchdog to police the sector and double court penalties for construction offences.

He argued continuing tax contributions from primary industries like miners and farmers were essential to fund infrastructure, healthcare and defence, and backed in his new nuclear power plan as the right one to ensure lower energy prices and more money in people's pockets.

"Across the economy - in every aspect of production, in the supply of all goods and services - higher energy costs mean Australians are paying more for everything," Mr Dutton said.

Curbing migration by 25 per cent, encouraging more Australians into the housing market by freeing up stock, stronger border and detention policies, and investing in age verification technology to restrict social media use, were also put forward in what was a broad-based address.