House debates

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Matters of Public Importance

Cost of Living

3:56 pm

Jerome Laxale (Bennelong, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

This is my first opportunity to contribute to debate in this parliament. I've been sitting here diligently and patiently, watching those opposite raise issues at these very important matters of public importance which are important to the nation. And, when I saw today's subject, I couldn't help—like the member for Pearce—getting up to have my say.

The member for Petrie mentioned the election. It was only a few months ago, but there seems to be a collective amnesia from those opposite about what happened prior to that election, because cost of living was something that was an issue in Pearce prior to the election; cost of living was an issue in the Hunter prior to the election. This is a discussion that this country has been having for months and years. I love elections. I'm one of those MPs that loves getting out there, having a chat to local constituents, and people have been talking about cost of living for a long time. At the election, the electors in Bennelong and Hunter and Lingiari and Pearce and Reid made a choice to elect a government that had a plan to deal with it, because those opposite, for the last decade, have done nothing about cost of living. They left us with a trillion dollars worth of debt. They left us with high and rising inflation. They left us with rising interest rates and deliberate wage suppression.

Remember when the now Prime Minister came out and said, 'We want to back a wage rise for minimum workers'? Remember the reaction of those opposite? One dollar, and they said the economy would fall to pieces. The cost-of-living crisis is a consequence of years of mismanagement by our predecessors. I'm here today on this side of the House because this government was elected because we have a plan to deal with cost-of-living pressures. We've got a plan to deal with it. And I'd like to focus on two things. A lot of members on this side today have spoken about the long list of things—as long as my arm, and I've got long arms—but I'd like to focus on two that those opposite know we've done.

We've committed to reducing the cost of medicines. It's the first time in 75 years that a government will reduce the cost of medicine. We'll be debating this legislation very soon. I can't imagine those opposite opposing it, but—news flash—this is a cost-of-living measure. We're reducing the cost of living. We're going to reduce the cost of medicines by 30 per cent, from $42.50 down to $30.

I went and visited one of the local pharmacists. They were telling me that people now go to the counter with multiple scripts and ask the pharmacist, 'Which medicine can I afford to miss out on this week?' Reducing the cost of medicines will mean that they can get the scripts they need and all those medicines to help them with their health. Someone taking one medicine a month will save $150 every year. A family with two or three medications will save $300 to $450 a year. That's money back in people's pockets, reducing the cost of living.

Those opposite dare to come in here and say that this government doesn't have a plan to deal with the cost of living. I find that extraordinary. I would encourage those opposite who are here now to listen to this next point. Maybe get on your WhatsApp channel and type some of these figures in. We introduced legislation today to reduce the cost of child care. This is life changing and will make an absolutely huge difference to family budgets. Ten thousand families in my seat of Bennelong will have cheaper child care because of the legislation introduced today by this government—a cost-of-living measure that those opposite claim we're ignoring, that we don't have a plan to deal with the cost of living.

Here we go. Read this. Type this out. This legislation is life changing. A family earning $120,000 with one child in centre based day care for three days a week will be more than $1,700 a year better off. How is that no plan? I'll sum it up for those opposite. You might want to take a note and pass it on to the shadow Treasurer. We've successfully argued for a minimum wage rise. We've extended the pandemic leave payment. We've introduced legislation that will drive down power prices. We're fast tracking fee-free TAFE. We've got cheaper child care. And we've got cheaper medicines. For those opposite to say we don't have a plan is just extraordinary. Thank you for this opportunity.

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