Cabinet meeting to discuss cost-of-living fixes without adding to ‘inflation challenge’
Key Points
  • Federal cabinet will meet in Canberra two weeks before parliament resumes to discuss the cost of living crisis.
  • The government has put in train a Senate inquiry into supermarket grocery prices.
  • Inflation has pushed interest rates markedly higher than COVID-19 pandemic levels and energy costs have climbed.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is calling federal cabinet colleagues to Canberra two weeks before parliament resumes as cost of living and economic issues mount.

Federal cabinet will meet on Wednesday and while some Labor MPs say the meeting is routine, some of the most pressing everyday issues facing Australians are expected to be discussed.

The government has put in train a Senate inquiry into supermarket grocery prices after shoppers and farmers complained that big retailers were taking advantage of rising prices.

Inflation has pushed interest rates markedly higher than COVID-19 pandemic levels and energy costs have climbed due to a confluence of domestic and overseas factors.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth however played down any idea of alarm.

“We need to see inflation coming down and so finding cost of living relief that doesn’t add to the challenge – the inflation challenge – is something our government’s been very focused on,” she told reporters in Adelaide on Sunday.

“I don’t think it’ll be over one meeting or a couple of meetings. This has been a constant role that our government’s played and we’re seeing impacts.”

Rishworth dismissed suggestions of immediate measures to reduce energy costs, citing the government’s capping of gas and coal prices in December 2022.

“We’ve also implemented our energy rebates which are flowing through to consumers now, so that is the short-term action we’ve taken,” she said.

Rishworth said new figures showed a million people had benefited from the government’s increased rent assistance.

She said this was an example of a measure that had eased the cost of living without adding to inflation.

The Albanese government also faces its first major test of public opinion in 2024 when the Mornington Peninsula by-election is held on 2 March.

The by-election was triggered by the

in December following a long battle with cancer.

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