Australia PM struggles to meet tax relief election pledge, central bank urges stimulus

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s re-elected coalition said on Tuesday it would struggle to deliver tax breaks for tens of millions of voters by July 1, a cornerstone of it’s election campaign, as the central bank called for stimulus to aid a slowing economy.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said parliament may not convene in time to pass the tax legislation, promised for July 1, due to vote counting and checking of results from Saturday’s election.

“The legislation needs to be passed and it will be the first priority of business once the parliament resumes,” he told reporters in the capital Canberra.

“It is not likely that the parliament will resume before the end of June because we have to wait for the writs to be returned,” he added.

The central bank, which is considering its first interest rate cut since 2016 as soon as next month, said on Tuesday tax relief was needed to boost an economy hit by a slowdown in household consumption.

Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe said the main reason for a downward shift in economic momentum – growth braked to an annualized 0.8% in the December quarter – was a slowdown in household consumption.

“Stronger growth in income will help, but the more important factor is some tax relief,” Lowe said in a speech calling on the new government to play its part in boosting household incomes.

The Liberal National coalition put tax rebates to about 10 million middle- and low-income earners – worth up to A$1,080 ($746.28) per person – at the heart of its campaign.

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