House debates

Tuesday, 1 August 2023

Matters of Public Importance

Cost of Living

3:46 pm

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party, Shadow Minister for Trade and Tourism) Share this | Hansard source

On my side of politics, all of us walk around in communities and talk to small businesses and families, and the issue that all of them raise without exception is the cost of living. Families and businesses are doing it really, really tough right now. The cost of everything people buy is going up much faster than people budgeted for, faster than they thought would happen.

Just one example—I could give many—is that in the recent school holidays I held, as many of us do, a young sporting champs morning tea with the 12- to 18-year-olds who've represented my community, whether at the state, national or international level. We get them in, we have a cup of tea, we give the kids a certificate and they get $5 to $800, depending on how far they've travelled, and we do a little media thing with them as well to acknowledge the elite young sports girls and boys they are. What I specifically noticed at the last two of these, and at the last one specifically, is that all the families that turned up were talking to me about the cost of living and their frustration about what they were told before the election and what has happened since.

This is a well-worn statement, but I'm going to repeat it because people need to remember. The government say they take responsibility, but I've never heard this government take responsibility. Before the election and after the election, the now government said that their $275 price cut promise was the most modelled policy ever done by an opposition in Australian history—a pretty big statement. Never have they stood up and said: 'You know what? We got it wrong.' They've blamed other things. They've blamed some of the things that were happening. The Ukraine war is their favourite, but of course it started before the election, but many of these Labor members and ministers after the election were still claiming this $275 cost. We know it's gone up by $500. There are higher mortgage costs. They promised cheaper mortgages, but mortgage costs are up, electricity bills are up, grocery prices are higher—everything has gone up. And the government don't accept any responsibility; they play the blame game on everybody else but themselves. They have no solution. Nothing the previous minister, the member for Richmond, just said would lower inflation. Not one thing that she mentioned would lower inflation.

Let's look at what the government has done. There are three things I want to pick out which have actually made things worse. They have introduced a truckie tax. What do I mean by that? Everything that comes to a house or to a business arrives on a truck. They've increased the operating charges for trucks with an increased tax of between six and seven per cent. So everything that arrives on a truck is going to go up six or seven per cent just on that one tax that this government has introduced. No idea about the cost-of-living pressures.

We introduced a $1,500 low- and middle-income tax rebate through COVID. Through what was going on, we introduced that. We realised that families needed some cash surety and cash bonuses. What has this government done? They abolished it. They didn't extend it, and it's run off. A $1,500 rebate that previously low-to-middle-income families would have got, and this government let it run off and didn't extend it when families are going through one of the biggest cost-of-living crises they've seen. They talk about the budget—the bottom line of the budget was $180 billion of increased spending from the government that wasn't there the previous year. That in itself is inflationary. That in itself is going to embed inflation in prices of goods and services. The other thing they like to talk about is their intervention in the energy market—they lay great claim on what a great initiative that was. Their intervention in the energy market has meant prices have gone up. They haven't gone down; they've gone up. Not only did their intervention in energy prices make prices go up but it has increased supply issues and there's a lot of investment that now isn't going to happen in that part of the energy market. There are certain countries that view us as being a sovereign risk as far as investment goes because of the government's intervention in the energy market.

What families want and what businesses want from this government is they don't want the blame-game anymore. They don't want the blaming of previous governments from over a year ago anymore. They don't want you to blame other people around the globe. They want your solutions to the cost-of-living crisis—of which you are offering none.


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