House debates

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Matters of Public Importance

Cost of Living

4:05 pm

Photo of Libby CokerLibby Coker (Corangamite, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

The rising cost of living is hitting a lot of Australians hard; we know that. But it is outrageous that the member for Hume has the hide to move this motion when he and the government of which he was part are in large part responsible for the rising costs of living facing so many families. The costs are largely a consequence of a wasted decade of the previous coalition governments, including more than 20 failed energy policies which were overseen, presided over, by the member for Hume.

We know that this MPI is about the opposition saying that the government has failed to deliver on cost of living within the first six months. This is an outrageous statement by the opposition, who have overseen what they've overseen, which has hurt so many families. But we are moving. We are moving quickly, and it is action. We have already delivered a 15 per cent pay rise for aged-care workers and a five per cent pay rise to those on a minimum wage. We have introduced the secure work and better pay bill that is now in the Senate, which will hopefully secure an opportunity for many Australians to improve their wage. We are taking a place on the global stage when it comes to climate change, which in turn means we will push for renewable energy jobs. And we have delivered on cheaper child care. It's gone to the Senate today. It is really something that I and Labor are so proud of, because it will mean that 1.2 million families will have cheaper child care, and that means that more women—who predominantly are still the ones who are at home—can return to work.

I note that the opposition, within this MPI, have an all-male line-up for the MPI. It would be very pleasing if we saw women from the other side step up and discuss this issue, because many women in feminised workforce sectors are impacted so strongly by the previous government's inaction.

Many people in my electorate know that Labor didn't create these challenges, but they have elected us to take responsibility and address them, and we are doing just that, as I have said. We've hit the ground running. We have a plan to build the economy in a responsible way that creates jobs and looks after people and business. The October budget was focused on responsible measures which don't put extra pressure on inflation, and that is an important thing. That's why the Albanese government is delivering cheaper child care to ease the pressures on young families, expanding paid parental leave to allow parents to work flexibly as they deserve. Many essential medicines are now cheaper. We are delivering a plan for more affordable housing and we are getting wages moving again.

One of the first acts of the Albanese government was to successfully argue for the minimum wage to keep pace with inflation, an outcome that has helped around 2.8 million Australians. And we are doing so much more. We've extended pandemic leave that was due to expire under the Liberals. We've introduced legislation that will drive investment in cleaner and cheaper energy, as I've said, putting downward pressure on power prices. We've introduced legislation for cheaper child care for 1.26 million families and, as I've also mentioned, budget cuts: we have cut the costs of medicines for people. We are fast-tracking fee-free TAFE places. Pensions, allowances and rent assistance have been increased in line with inflation, and we have a new pensioner work bonus so that older Australians can keep more of what they earn without it affecting their pension.

The Albanese government knows that the best defence in these difficult times is a responsible budget, and that's what we have delivered. The budget marked an end to a wasted decade under the Liberals, which gave us energy chaos, stagnant wages, a skills crisis and a trillion dollars of debt without an economic dividend to show for it. Unlike the former government, which did not increase real wages—it was the worst decade for productivity in half a century—we are doing better, and we will ensure that we do help invest in business, because under the previous government— (Time expired)


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