Flags Australia move on high fuel prices as elections approach

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Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg attends the meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Jakarta, Indonesia, Feb. 17, 2022. Hafidz Mubarak A/Pool via REUTERS

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March 27 (Reuters) – Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Sunday indicated that the federal government will likely act to cut petrol prices in the upcoming federal budget, weeks before the general election.

The government has recently come under pressure to cut fuel taxes as petrol prices hit an eight-year high while Prime Minister Scott Morrison is lagging in polls ahead of the election, which will take place in May. read more

Asked by Nine Entertainment whether the government would announce a 44.2 cents per liter fuel tax cut in Tuesday’s budget, Frydenberg said he understood petrol prices were a major concern for Australians.

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“What we will do on Tuesday evening is to help those families who recognize that fuel costs are very high right now,” he told the broadcaster.

Frydenberg would not be drawn to individual budget cuts the government would take on gasoline, but said it acknowledged the bowser’s price had risen as a result of rising global oil prices.

As global oil prices soar due to the border impact of the war in Ukraine, gasoline recently reached A$2.20 per liter in several Australian cities.

“A barrel of oil is up 50% since the beginning of the year. That flows through to the bowser here at home. We recognize that pressure,” Frydenberg said.

He said Tuesday’s budget would represent a very significant material improvement for the government’s bottom line, but declined to predict whether a budget surplus would be recorded over the next decade.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison echoed Frydenberg’s comments, telling reporters in Western Australia that the budget would deal with the cost of living felt by Australians.

“Because of what we see in Ukraine, the impact on fuel prices, we know this is corrosive,” he said.

Labor Treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers said the federal opposition wanted a living allowance that would ensure a better future for Australians, including petrol.

“Gasoline is a big part of the story, as everyone knows,” he told ABC television.

The government hopes the budget will strengthen its support after the latest News Poll showed that Labor leads the coalition of liberal and national parties.

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Reporting by Sam McKeith in Sydney; Editing by Christopher Cushing

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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