Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie has refused to back a cut to the fuel excise despite Opposition Leader Peter Dutton indicating the Coalition would support a quick measure to relieve high petrol costs on motorists.

Appearing on Sunrise, Senator McKenzie was asked by host Natalie Barr if she supported a temporary cut to the fuel excise considering reports indicating most Australians were paying up to $2 a litre at the bowser.

“I think what we‘ve seen from this government is that they haven’t been making the tough decisions in their own budget. They’ve just spent $450,000,000 on a referendum,” Senator McKenzie answered.

“So is that a yes on the fuel excise cut?” Barr replied.

“Well, I think we need to look at all things. All things need to be on the table, Nat, because just cherrypicking fuel excise while you’re jacking up spending on a referendum which keeps inflation higher ends up meaning Australians are paying more than they need to for longer.”

According to ABS figures released last week, petrol prices rose by 7.2 per cent in the last financial quarter. This came alongside fresh data that showed inflation rose by 1.2 per cent in September, up from 0.8 per cent in June, surpassing economists’ forecasts.

Under the fuel tax levied by the federal government on petrol and diesel, motorists are paying 48.8 cents in excise for every litre of fuel they purchase.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth argued that a cut to the fuel excise would be a hit to the budget and accused the Coalition of wanting “to have it both ways”.

“I think Bridget’s been quite tricky with her words there,” Ms Rishworth said.

“But we’re taking cost of living incredibly seriously. We have a $23bn package on energy relief, on increasing bulk billing, cheaper medicines and support for those getting rent assistance.

“This government has a carefully calibrated package. You can’t have it both ways.”

Last September, the Albanese government allowed a 22c cut to the petrol excise to expire, arguing a further extension would cost the federal budget as much as $3bn in just six months.

Speaking in an interview on Sky News on Sunday, Mr Dutton said there could be temporary relief through a reduction and despite high costs tied to the measure, there were “periods where (a cut to the excise) is effective”.

Despite calls to reintroduce a temporary cut to the fuel excise, similar to a six-month reduction given in 2022 under the former government, Treasurer Jim Chalmers has ruled out any future tweaks to the policy.

“We’ll contemplate what measures are necessary in our economy, consistent with our really strict approach to fiscal discipline, but it’s not something that we’re doing,” Dr Chalmers told reporters last week.

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