Australian PM’s Support Rises After Big-Spending Budget

(Bloomberg) -- Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s personal approval rating climbed and support for his government improved after last week’s budget, even as economists warned the spending measures could exacerbate inflationary pressures.

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Support for Albanese’s center-left Labor government edged up to 52% on a two-party preferred basis, while the opposition Liberal-National Coalition slid to 48%, a survey by Newspoll showed. A previous poll had Labor narrowly ahead 51% to 49%.

The prime minister’s personal approval advanced to 47%, equal with his disapproval rating, which is his best result since a dip in October after an Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum that he personally backed was defeated.

The poll comes after Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ May 14 budget outlined cost-of-living support for Australians including a A$300 ($201) per household rebate on power bills. The fiscal blueprint could be the last before the next election which is due by May 2025.

The budget showed a second straight surplus in the year through June 30, before an increase in government spending sends it back into deficit over the following four years.

Albanese and Chalmers have defended the budget as responsible and appropriate even as economists warned the jump in spending could further stoke inflation and force the Reserve Bank to keep interest rates higher for longer.

Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Monday, Albanese said the budget would lower inflation while providing support to households struggling with cost of living pressures.

He was referring to Treasury estimates that the power bill rebates would mechanically cut CPI by half a percentage point.

“One of the things that we were determined to do was to provide cost of living relief without putting pressure on inflation,” the prime minister said.

Newspoll also showed 52% of voters preferred Albanese as prime minister over center-right opposition leader Peter Dutton, his strongest result since July 2023.

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