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June, 2024

Jim Chalmers downplays May inflation jump, points to CPI volatility

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has responded to the ABS’s monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) for May, suggesting that the figure has been blown out by fuel prices and the “impact of base effects” due to a fall in inflation in May 2023.

Despite edging down 0.1 points on a month‑to‑month basis (compared to a 0.7 point rise in April), the ABS’s monthly CPI indicator was 4.0 per cent in the year to May.

“Inflation is still higher than we would like, but monthly inflation is less than half its peak and much lower than the 6.1% we inherited from the Coalition,” said Chalmers. “As we’ve said many times before the monthly CPI number is volatile and can jump around because not every item in the basket is updated each month.”

Chalmers said that the ABS numbers that excluded monthly volatile items and holiday travel showed a moderation, down to 4.0% in May from 4.1% in April.

He also claimed that rises in electricity prices (up 6.5% in the 12 months to May) would have been more than double (14.5%) if it weren’t for the Labor Government’s Energy Bill Relief. Likewise, Chalmers issued that rents increases of 7.4% in the 12 months to May would have been 9.3% without the Commonwealth Rent Assistance initiative.

“We know there’s more to do to fight inflation because it’s still too high and people are doing it tough and that’s why we’re rolling out five different types of responsible cost‑of‑living relief from Monday, at the same time as we turn big Liberal deficits into Labor surpluses,” said Chalmers.