House debates

Tuesday, 1 August 2023

Matters of Public Importance

Cost of Living

3:51 pm

Photo of Lisa ChestersLisa Chesters (Bendigo, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

How disappointing and childish of the member for Page to make that comment, but I guess we shouldn't be surprised given his contribution was so incredibly misleading. To say that this government has offered nothing just demonstrates the member for Page is ignoring the facts and his head is in the sand. Let's talk about what the previous budget put forward in terms of cost-of-living relief, particularly to our most vulnerable. It extended the eligibility for parenting payment—and if those opposite ever actually met a single parent, they would understand how fundamental this change is—from eight to 14. It will provide direct relief to 57,000 single parents, predominantly women, giving huge cost-of-living relief that will help so many that are vulnerable. There's a 15 per cent increase to the maximum rate of rent assistance for 1.1 million households—that's another 1.1 million people that will directly benefit from cost-of-living relief. That is how ridiculous this MPI is and how ridiculous the comments from those opposite have been. Some 1.1 million Australians will be better off by 15 per cent because of this one change alone. It gives a $40 per fortnight increase for working age and student payments, JobSeeker, and youth allowance, helping another 1.1 million Australians—more cost-of-living relief to those who are doing it tough. These are three of the many changes that our government has already put forward.

Let's also not forget the cost-of-living relief to our aged-care workers—another promise we took to the last election that we've delivered on. A 15 per cent pay increase, a lift to the award, and it is making a real difference to those aged-care workers, those angels who are keeping older Australians in the dignity and respect that they deserve. One aged-care worker in my electorate told me last week that it's a boost to her take-home pay of $300 a fortnight. How is that ignoring those workers? How is that a broken promise? It is not. This is where the opposition is lazy and misleading the Australian people. You could tell that they're bored—they're just ticking the boxes and moving forward.

We know that Australians are doing it tough, and that's why we put them at the centre of the decisions that we are making. We are looking at how we can strengthen the safety net. That is why it is so disappointing to be here in this House, debating these changes and this silly MPI, when those opposite in the Senate are blocking this very bill that would help so many households and so many individuals that are doing it tough. Cost-of-living measures that were due to commence on 20 September have stalled in the Senate, and that is disappointing. It is disappointing that the Greens have joined the Liberals and the Nationals in blocking these fundamental reforms that will help so many. I call upon the Greens to listen to those who need this help now. A 15 per cent increase to the maximum rate of rent assistance is the best thing that they can do to help renters today. This is what we can do in this House. It is not an ambit claim that can only be done by the states where they're talking about rent freezes. That's the role of the states. This is something that we can do as parliamentarians in this place and in this chamber, and that's by working together to lift rent assistance.

It isn't just what we're doing for the people relying upon the safety net, and it isn't just what we're doing for our low-paid workers like aged-care workers. We're committed to industrial relations reform which will help lift the wages and the working conditions of millions of working Australians. That will help ease cost-of-living pressures. Cheaper medicines and cheaper child care—all that we have talked about in this place. Maybe they're not listening during question time or the debates, but we've talked a lot about these fundamental changes that will help people. Maybe they should think twice about what they want to do in the Senate in relation to cheaper medicines. This will help deliver needed cost-of-living relief to those that are doing it tough. This MPI is silly and demonstrates just how lazy the opposition is.


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