The Australian government is under pressure to cut fuel excise as petrol prices hit an eight-year high and Prime Minister Scott Morrison trails in the polls just weeks before a general election.
Opposition Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese has drawn level with Morrison as preferred prime minister for the first time since the pandemic outbreak, according to a Newspoll published on Monday. Labor has led Morrison's conservative coalition in successive polls this year.
As global oil prices soar because of the war in Ukraine, petrol has hit A$2.20 a liter in several Australian cities. The fuel excise is worth 44.2 Australian cents a liter.Several state premiers have called for the federal government to cut a petrol and diesel excise worth A$20.8 billion, to alleviate pressure on families at the browser, in a federal budget due to be delivered on March 29.
With the federal election due in May, Albanese on Monday seized on the cost of living issues, saying the petrol price hike combined with rising food prices meant "people are really struggling". "They haven't done anything about petrol," he told reporters, referring to the government.
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Morrison has sought to fight the election on national security and defense issues, which have historically delivered a boost to conservative governments.
The latest Newspoll shows the tactic has so far failed to deliver the prime minister a boost: Morrison's approval rating is 41% compared to Albanese's 44%, and Labor holds a six-point lead over the coalition of Liberal and National parties.
Albanese cautioned against overconfidence based on polls, noting Labor had only won an election from the opposition three times since World War Two.
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Morrison told reporters that Australians knew petrol prices were rising because of the war in Ukraine, and declined to comment on whether the excise would be cut in this month's budget. "These cost of living impacts are real," he said, pointing to tax cuts as a way to deal with the issue. Source: MSN