Pensioners and some families may be in line for a one-off cash payment from the federal government in a pre-election sweetener.
Senior government ministers – who met on Thursday to plan for the April 2 federal budget – have not ruled out the idea.
But they have told Australians they will need to wait until budget night to find out what it has in store for them.
Government advisers are looking at two one-off payments that could be included in the budget, the Australian Financial Review reported on Thursday.
If the government goes ahead with the plan, the payments – one for age pensions and another for families – could be distributed before the federal election, expected on May 11 or 18.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg declined to speculate, saying in a statement the budget would build on the government’s “successful economic plan”.
Mr Frydenberg met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Jobs Minister Kelly O’Dwyer in Sydney on Thursday to discuss budget preparations.
Ms O’Dwyer said budget speculation is always a sign it is nearing delivery, but Australians don’t have long to wait to find out what it holds.
“All of those questions that you have about exactly what’s in the budget will be answered on budget night,” she told reporters.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the government is clearly in “election mode”.
He said if the coalition wanted to help pensioners, it shouldn’t have cut the part-pension for 370,000 people, frozen the Medicare rebate or allowed the cost of energy to rise as it has.
“This government is not the friend of pensioners,” he told reporters in Queensland.
Labor would unfreeze the Medicare rebate, reduce people’s energy costs and will have more to say about pensioners, he stressed.
The coalition’s payments idea would be aimed at those who missed out on previously legislated tax cuts and has been floating around since December, according to the AFR report.
The personal income tax cuts began in mid-2018, with low and middle-income offered a new tax offset and the threshold for the 32.5 per cent tax bracket lifted from $87,000 to $90,000.
The final round of cuts under the plan will take effect in 2024, and will mean 94 per cent of Australians won’t have to face a marginal tax rate any greater than 32.5 per cent.
The plan is worth $144 billion over 10 years.