For a third time as Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Peter Dutton MP has delivered his Budget Address in Reply before the Australian Parliament.

Mr Dutton used his speech to outline the Opposition’s proposed path to steer the nation ‘Back on Track’, with a focus on cost of living relief, community safety, addressing energy affordability and reliability, and tackling the housing affordability crisis.

Nexus APAC has developed an overview of the key themes of this evening’s Budget in Reply.

Response to the Budget

Central to Mr Dutton’s speech was his critique of the Labor Government’s handling of the economy, arguing that government spending is adding to inflation and is causing future ‘deficits as far as the eye can see’.

Mr Dutton highlighted the need for responsible fiscal policies to alleviate cost-of-living pressures and restore economic confidence.

The Opposition Leader did approve of the Government’s provision of $3.4 billion for medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the extension of emergency payments to support women and children fleeing domestic violence.

However, he described the Government’s 2024/25 Federal Budget as ‘one of the most irresponsible’ he had seen in his 22 years in Parliament.

The Coalition’s Economic Plan

Mr Dutton argued that to get Australia ‘back on track’, a ‘back-to-basics economic plan’ is needed.

Key to the Opposition’s economic plan is reining in spending, cutting corporate welfare, and removing regulatory barriers that he believes are stifling business growth.

By streamlining approval processes and reducing red tape, the Opposition aims to revitalise industries such as mining by creating jobs and driving economic growth.

Under this economic roadmap, the Coalition committed to:

  • Reining in inflationary spending to take the pressure off inflation;
  • Winding back Labor’s intervention and removing regulatory roadblocks;
  • Removing the ‘complexity and hostility’ of Labor’s industrial relations agenda;
  • Providing ‘lower, simpler and fairer taxes for all’;
  • Delivering competition policy for consumers and smaller businesses; and
  • Ensuring Australians have more affordable and reliable energy.


Mr Dutton argued that the Albanese Government’s ‘renewables only’ policy was not only failing to hit its target of 5 gigawatts of renewable energy per year, but was responsible for increased unreliability, increased energy prices, and Australia’s shrinking manufacturing sector.

As an alternative to renewable power, Mr Dutton said that the Coalition would increase domestic gas production to provide reliable and affordable energy in the immediate term and would take steps to implement zero-emission nuclear power. Mr Dutton argued that Australia was well-placed to pursue nuclear energy due to its large uranium deposits.

In particular, he stated that a Coalition Government would:

  • Speed up approvals;
  • Unlock gas in key basins such as the Beetaloo basin;
  • Defund the Environmental Defenders Office due to its role in halting projects;
  • Reinstate the National Gas Infrastructure Plan; and
  • Commit to an annual release of offshore acreage for exploration and development in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.


Mr Dutton highlighted the challenges faced by many Australians in accessing affordable housing. He criticised the Government’s migration policies, which he believes have exacerbated housing demand and placed a strain on the housing market.

Mr Dutton proposed measures to rebalance the migration program, including a temporary ban on foreign investors purchasing existing homes and a reduction in the permanent migration intake.

He also pledged to prioritise Australians for existing homes and implement policies to increase housing supply and affordability. To meet the housing crisis ‘head-on’, Mr Dutton proposed the following specific measures:

  • Implementing a two-year ban on foreign investors and temporary residents purchasing existing homes in Australia;
  • Reducing the permanent migration program by 25% (From 185,000 to 140,000 for the first two years); and
  • Reducing in the number of foreign students studying at metropolitan universities.

In summary, Mr Dutton emphasised the need for a comprehensive approach to address the housing crisis – one that involves collaboration between federal, state and local governments, as well as the private sector to ‘restore the dream of home ownership’.


Mr Dutton stated that the Coalition would introduce measures to encourage thousands of veterans and older Australians to engage with the labour market by increasing the number of hours a person can work without having their pension payment reduced, and by doubling the existing work bonus to $600 per fortnight.

He added that the Coalition Government would enable pensioners to accrue unused pension work bonus amounts up to a maximum of $11,800 and that this can exempt future earnings from the Pension Income Test.

Regarding student visa holders, Mr Dutton also proposed to lift the number of hours those on student visas can work by 12 hours a fortnight.


While Mr Dutton welcomed the Government’s commitment of $50 million for longer consultations for endometriosis and pelvic pain, he criticised the Albanese Government on the 11% decrease in bulk billing and the looming shortage of GPs.

He pledged that a Coalition Government would invest $400 million to encourage junior doctors to train in general practice through incentive payments, assistance with leave entitlements, and support for pre-vocational training.

Separately, Mr Dutton also stated that, led by Senators Liddle and Nampijinpa Price, the Coalition would look to improve education, health and safety outcomes for Indigenous women and children, especially in disadvantaged remote communities.

Law and Order

When addressing law and order, Mr Dutton highlighted the importance of community safety, and discussed Australia’s social cohesion and threats to national security.

Mr Dutton criticised the Government’s approach to bail laws, proposing to tighten bail conditions for violent offenders before pledging to strengthen laws related to domestic violence and coercive control, particularly in instances where technology is used to intimate or harass victims.

With the increasing prevalence of online crime, the Coalition proposes strict measures to safeguard online users and create a safer digital environment for Australians.

A significant proposal announced in the Budget in Reply Speech included criminalising the posting of illegal acts online, with offenders to face bans from digital platforms and potential imprisonment for up to two years.

Mr Dutton was vocal about the need to protect young users from harmful content online. He expressed his commitment to introducing policies to better protect young internet users, and to monitor digital platforms more effectively.

Additionally, the Coalition intends to implement age verification trials on social media platforms including Instagram and TikTok to prevent users from accessing inappropriate content.


Mr Dutton agreed with the Government’s evaluation of Australia’s strategic situation as outlined in the National Defence Strategy, stating ‘we’re living in the most precarious period since the Second World War’, with increased cyber-attacks and foreign interference by authoritarian regimes.

However, Mr Dutton criticised the Government for underspending on defence in favour of employing an additional 36,000 public servants at a cost of $24 billion over four years.

He pledged to reprioritise additional funding for defence, and to work more closely with the defence industry to identify additional projects and investments in Australia.


The Budget Address in Reply serves as a platform for the Coalition to outline its vision for the country and to set the stage for the upcoming election, where voters will have the opportunity to decide on the future course of the nation.

If you have any queries, or would like a briefing, please contact the Nexus team.

Photo Credit: ABC News / Matt Roberts