Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told Liberals in the key election state of Tasmania that any reservations about his leadership and character are of secondary importance to the goal of keeping labor off the government benches.
The government’s plans if re-elected are clear, Mr Morrison said while urging a Launceston campaign rally to vote for a strong economy and the government’s plans, rather than focus on elements of the government’s record.
“You may not like everything we’ve done, you may not like me that much, but that’s not the point,” Mr Morrison said on Saturday.
“The point is you know what our plan is … now is not the time to take a risk on what you don’t know.”
On Saturday morning, the Prime Minister announced a $150 million cash splash from next year on medications listed under the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme.
Mr Morrison has said the original, premature announcement of the measure during this year’s federal budget was a mistake.
Instead Australians will now have to wait until January 1 if the Coalition wins next month’s election for the new measures, which are aimed at easing the current cost of living pains across the country.
The measure means $10 savings per script, with PBS listed medicines dropping from $42.50 to $32.50 for everyday conditions like high blood pressure and cholesterol.
“What we did in the budget was put in place temporary measures to deal with the cost of living,” Mr Morrison said.
“What this is, is the next step … a transition to other longer-term measures.”
Medications’ lower costs
The savings mean an Australian taking a common medication once a month could save $120 a year, while those taking two a month could save $240 a year.
Pharmacists welcomed the announcement which could see Australians cut medication costs from $240 per year to $120 per year.
Cost-of-living pressures are dominating the campaign as inflation spikes to a 20 year high, power prices rise and a interest rate lift looms as early as next week.
The Reserve Bank board meets on Tuesday to decide whether to proceed with the first cash rate rise in 12 years, taking it above a historically low 0.1 per cent.
The last time interest rates rose during an election campaign was in 2007 when the Howard government lost to Labor.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg spent this week hosing down suggestions he was trying to pressure the RBA to delay any cash rate rise until after the election, while saying inflation was not inside the central bank’s target two to three per cent target between 2014 and 2021.
The rising cost of living is expected to feature heavily in Labor’s official campaign launch in Perth on Sunday.
Exiting a week of COVID-19 isolation on Friday, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the issue could be addressed by lifting wages, making child care cheaper and pushing down power prices through a comprehensive energy plan.
Meanwhile in South Australia, independent candidate Jo Dyer has confirmation she’s eligible to run for the seat of Boothby after fears she hadn’t renounced her UK citizenship in time.
Ms Dyer said her renouncement was officially processed in February, well before the cut off for candidates at this election.
The independent is hoping to win South Australia’s only marginal seat from Rachel Swift, the replacement for outgoing Liberal MP, Nicolle Flint.
“I am relieved and look forward to continuing the fight for Boothby,” Ms Dyer said.
Australia’s constitution bars candidates from running for office if they hold the rights to citizenship to another country, with the rule famously coming to light between 2017 and 2018 when 15 MPs and senators were forced to resign from federal parliament.