Dire warning ahead of inflation figures

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Treasurer Jim Chalmers is hopeful the worst of Australia’s inflation crisis is in the rearview mirror ahead of the release of fresh data later this week.

But the opposition has slammed the government for “underestimating” the scale of the problem, accusing Dr Chalmers of already beginning his May budget “spin”.

The latest inflation data, to be handed down on Wednesday, is expected to show another rise in December.

Estimates from both the Treasury and the Reserve Bank suggest inflation will moderate soon after the predicted spike.

Speaking with Sky News on Sunday, Dr Chalmers was quick to manage expectations the estimates would result in immediate cost of living relief for Australians.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers is hopeful the inflation peak has passed. Picture: NewsWire / Monique HarmerTreasurer Jim Chalmers is hopeful the inflation peak has passed. Picture: NewsWire / Monique Harmer

“We’ve still got a big inflation challenge in our economy even as we get to the other side of the peak,” the Treasurer said.

“Inflation will be higher than we’d like for longer than we’d like. That’s just the reality.”

His comments come after fresh Treasury analysis revealed the government’s intervention in the energy market has slowed the expected rise of electricity prices.

“We expect it to make a meaningful difference to these price increases that were forecast in the October budget,” Dr Chalmers said.

“Our objective here is to try and … take the edge off some of these price rises that we will see in energy prices through 2023 – a big part of our inflation problem.”

But the opposition has dismissed the Treasurer’s comments as “spin”, with Peter Dutton claiming Dr Chalmers is setting the stage for the government to shelve the controversial stage three tax cuts.

“The treasurer is trying to put all sorts of spin on what will be in the May budget and trying to set Australians up for the tax cuts to be abolished,” he told Sky News.

“The fact is that Australians are doing it tough at the moment and it‘s going to get tougher over the next 12 months under Labor.”

But Peter Dutton has warned it is all spin. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin OllmanBut Peter Dutton has warned it is all spin. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

It comes as the opposition ramps up its attack on the government on multiple fronts, including the Voice to Parliament.

On Sunday, Mr Dutton denied he was a “naysayer” when it came to the referendum to enshrine a First Nation’s voice in the constitution.

He called on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to stop “being cute” and confirm the government’s intended model for the body.

“If the prime minister had just been upfront and straight and honest with the Australian public and said if you vote for the voice, this is what we will legislate, well we would have the detail, but he’s not,” Mr Dutton added.

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