Australian inflation hits 32-yr high

Australia’s annual inflation has climbed to its highest level in 32 years amid soaring prices for housing and gas.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday reported the consumer price index (CPI) rose by 1.8 per cent in the three months to September 30 and by 7.3 per cent over the last 12 months, reports Xinhua news agency.

It marks the highest annual figure since 1990.

According to the data, the cost of buying or building a new home rose by 3.7 per cent in the September quarter and 20.7 per cent over the year.

Gas prices increased by 10.9 per cent in the quarter, furniture by 6.6 per cent and food prices by 3.2 per cent.

Those rises were slightly offset by a 4.3 per cent fall in petrol prices.

The data was released one day after Treasurer Jim Chalmers handed down the federal budget for the financial year 2022-23.

The budget projected the inflation would peak at 7.75 per cent later this year before falling to 3.5 per cent through 2023-24.

Chalmers and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday faced criticism over a looming power crisis.

According to the budget, electricity prices are set to increase by 56 per cent over the next 18 months and gas prices by 44 per cent.

Albanese blamed the conservative coalition, which governed for nine years before losing May’s general election, for failing to prepare for a spike in power prices.

“Cheaper power bills will come as a result of investment in cheaper energy,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“That will take time, of course. We can’t turn it around in one month.”

In his budget speech, Chalmers flagged government intervention in the electricity market to prevent any crisis.

He said the government was considering “a whole heap of options”.

“We’ve made it very clear that we would consider a broader range of options than might have been considered in the past,” he told Nine Radio.

Peter Dutton, leader of the opposition, criticised the budget for failing to directly address the rising cost of living.

“So, for people on fixed incomes, pensioners, self-funded retirees, they are really, really copping it in this budget and it is a grim budget. I worry for those families who are already struggling with an increased mortgage payment,” he told ABC.

The Treasurer said inflation is the primary influence on the budget.

“I understand that Australians are under the pump everywhere and, obviously, what we did in the budget providing that cost of living relief but in a responsible way that doesn’t push up inflation is really important,” Chalmers said.

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