CANBERRA, AAP – Labor is keeping rising childcare fees and the cost of living at the forefront of its election pitch, as leader Anthony Albanese rejoins the campaign trail after a week of COVID-19 isolation.

Mr Albanese will fly to Perth on Friday ahead of the party’s campaign launch on the weekend.

Labor attacked the government on Thursday after new data showed the average cost of childcare has risen by 4.2 per cent over the past year to March.

It came after inflation surged to 5.1 per cent, a 20-year high, with homeowners now facing an interest rate hike from next week.

The Reserve Bank is tipped to raise rates on Tuesday – for the first time in 12 years – increasing cost of living pressures for mortgage holders.


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But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has suggested the RBA should wait for wages data due out on May 18.

“I can only point you to previous statements that they have made where they have said they want to see inflation sustainably within their (two to three per cent) band, and they also want to see significant wages growth before they start to move,” he’s told the Australian Financial Review.

Following the release of the inflation figures, former prime minister John Howard rejected suggestions there was a housing crisis in Australia as he campaigned in the Brisbane seat of Ryan.

“The cost of housing in this country is much higher than we would like, but a lot of the reasons for housing being expensive in Australia has been baked into the system over the years,” he said.

“And may I say, because of planning and other decisions made by state and local governments to push up the cost of housing.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will start Friday in Hobart, after announcing $50 million for the Nyrstar Smelter in the Tasmanian capital.

Mr Morrison dismissed criticism directed at the government from Senator Pauline Hanson as “just politics”, after it emerged the coalition would tell voters to preference the Jacquie Lambie Network in the Tasmanian Senate race ahead of One Nation.

“We’re just focused on what the Australian people are focused on in this election, all this discussion about preferences … it’s just politics,” he told Sky News.

“That’s not changing what people do for a job. It’s not changing what they earn. It’s not keeping downward pressure on inflation and interest rates. That’s what we’re focused on in this in this election.”

Senator Hanson accused the government of doing a “dirty deal with the devil”.