As election nears, Aus govt pressurised to cut fuel excise

As gas prices hit an eight-year high and Prime Minister Scott Morrison trails in the polls only weeks before a general election, the Australian government is under pressure to lower fuel excise.

According to a Newspoll released on Monday, opposition Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese has drawn level with Morrison as the preferred prime minister for the first time since the pandemic outbreak.

This year, Labor has consistently outperformed Morrison’s conservative government in surveys.

In a federal budget scheduled to be delivered on March 29, some state premiers have requested for the federal government to lower a petrol and fuel excise worth A$20.8 billion to relieve strain on families at the browser.

Petrol has hit A$2.20 a litre in numerous Australian cities as global oil costs rise due to the Ukraine conflict. The fuel excise is 44.2 cents per litre in Australian dollars.

With the federal election coming up in May, Albanese seized on cost-of-living issues on Monday, claiming that the rise in gasoline prices, along with growing food prices, meant “people are truly hurting.”

“They haven’t done anything about petrol,” he said of the administration to reporters.

Morrison has attempted to win the election by focusing on national security and defence matters, which have traditionally boosted conservative governments.

According to the most recent Newspoll, the strategy has thus far failed to provide the prime minister a boost: Morrison has a 41 percent approval rating, compared to 44 percent for Albanese, and Labor has a six-point lead over the Liberal-National alliance.

Albanese warned against putting too much faith in polls, adding that Labor had only won elections from the opposition three times since WWII.

Morrison told reporters that Australians were aware that gasoline costs were rising due to the conflict in Ukraine, but he refused to say if the excise tax will be reduced in this month’s budget.

“These cost-of-living implications are real,” he said, recommending tax cuts as a solution to the problem.

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