Australia

Speed up building to help economy: Labor

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Labor's infrastructure spokeswoman Catherine King says the government should bring forward major projects to help Australia's economy.

Labor has urged the coalition to speed up major infrastructure projects and give pensioners a boost to stimulate the flagging economy.

The opposition's infrastructure spokeswoman Catherine King says the government should recalibrate its agenda to quell economic headwinds.

She said the coalition had made a "pretty weird" claim that $13 billion would be spent on infrastructure when $6 billion was listed in the budget.

"There's a bit of smoke and mirrors happening here," Ms King told ABC's Insiders on Sunday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated infrastructure is one of the government's main priorities after getting a $158 billion income tax cut package through parliament last week.

The economy has been in the spotlight after the Reserve Bank cut the official cash rate to a record low of one per cent last week.

Central bank governor Philip Lowe has repeatedly urged the federal government to do more to lift the economy, beyond the personal income tax cut legislation that was passed by the parliament this week.

Economic growth slowed to 1.8 per cent annual pace in the March quarter.

The Morrison government is weighing up cutting the deeming rate, which is the assumed return for pensioners assets.

Pensioners can earn up to $172 a fortnight before their government payments are reduced, with investments included in the pension income test.

Assistant Treasurer Zed Seselja said the government was listening to concerns from pensioner groups.

"There may well be announcements coming, but we're very, very sympathetic to the cause," he told Sky News on Sunday.

"We accept that with the cash rate coming down - although that's only one factor - it means the return certainly when people have money in the bank and the like, those returns are likely to come down."

Labor's social services spokeswoman Linda Burney said pensioners could be up to $3875 a year better off if the deeming rate was reduced by 1.25 per cent.

"Scott Morrison is on another planet if he thinks pensioners can find secure investments that pay anything like 3.25 per cent," she said in a statement.

"It's sneaky and unfair to count income that pensioners simply aren't getting."

Ms King said the government needed to stimulate the economy beyond the tax cuts.

"It's time to look at infrastructure and we're calling on them to do that."

She also floated raising the dole to boost the economy, despite Labor failing to commit to raising Newstart during the election campaign.

"I don't think that there's any politician in the country, certainly no Labor politician thinks that the rate of Newstart is OK, that it is a liveable income," she said.

"It simply is not."

She said Mr Morrison "flat batted" a question about raising the welfare payment in parliament last week.

"I don't think that there is politician in the country who could say that they could live on Newstart. Frankly, it is too low," Ms King said.

"The government's basically just pretending that there's no issue here."

The opposition previously committed to reviewing Newstart but is now looking at almost all of its positions in the wake of a crushing election defeat.

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