House debates

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Matters of Public Importance

Cost Of Living

4:12 pm

Photo of Tracey RobertsTracey Roberts (Pearce, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I proudly represent my community in Pearce, which is a large and fast-growing electorate, one of the fastest growing in Australia. Pearce has many young families, eight babies a day born to our residents, a very high youth population, our wonderful seniors, and grandparents raising grandchildren. The reason I provide this information is to advise that I understand and know my communities. I listen to them. I represent them well. I know what we need to do in advocacy. In order to do that, you have to listen. I have just listened to the member for Monash speaking about dogs and families. Nearly every household has a dog or a cat or a bird. We understand that but that's all talk. What we are looking for from the Albanese government is action. Action speaks much louder than words.

Local families tell me that they feel the financial pressures of life, understandably so. I don't turn around and say to them, 'The Albanese government has inherited a trillion dollars of debt with nothing to show for it.' What is the point in that? That is a fact. What they want to hear is what we are doing about it. What we hear from our residents is they are extremely grateful for the cost-of-living relief that the Albanese government is providing for them. This is a very clear message that we are doing our job.

The Albanese government is a listening government. We understand and we are taking action. One member of our community was so very grateful for the affordable medicines legislation and now having cheaper medicines that she was overwhelmed when thanking me and our government for providing such a welcome measure to make her and her family's life easier financially. As a government, that is just one of the new measures that we have put in place to help and support Australian families. Quite simply, the Albanese government cares; it cares about making life better for everybody. We certainly understand that the cost of living is rising and hitting a lot of Australians hard, after decades of neglect under the previous government. Just as it was throughout 2022, inflation is a defining economic challenge of 2023. It's not something that we've just thought up or something that we dreamt up as we started in May 2022. This has been throughout 2022. This is an impact that we are dealing with.

The Albanese government is working constructively with the states and territories to provide up to $1.5 billion in targeted energy bill relief to businesses and households, who have been, without doubt, hit the hardest by rising prices. We are focused on addressing inherited economic challenges, including the rising cost of living, and we have a robust plan. We have a plan for cheaper medicine, cheaper child care, getting wages moving, expanding paid parental leave to six months and more affordable housing.

Interest rates started rising before the 2022 election, and the March quarter was the worst for inflation in 2022. I know that many Australians understand that the Albanese government did not create these challenges. They chose to elect us because they had faith and hope that we would take responsibility for addressing these issues, and we are. We have an economic plan, despite what the member for Casey was so keen to articulate. Our plan is a direct and deliberate response to the challenges facing our economy, including the cost of living.

An early and important outcome of the Albanese government was to successfully argue for the minimum wage to keep pace with inflation. This helped around 2.7 million Australians—that is a significant number—who, because of this government's decisive and robust actions, have benefited from the wage challenges. We ensured that our budget focused on responsible cost-of-living relief that did not put extra pressure on inflation. We are doing everything in our power to ensure that Australians live comfortably and feel supported by their government representatives. Those on this side of the House listen. We have acted to take some of the pain out of higher power prices through direct energy bill relief in the next budget, including direct support for households and businesses.

We are supporting Australians to grow our economy through gaining better skills to enable them to secure good jobs and have better wages. Free TAFE is another important measure that we put in place that helps ease the pressure on families.


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