Tuesday, 1 August 2023
Matters of Public Importance
Cost of Living
I rise to speak on this matter of public importance, which concerns the Prime Minister's broken promise to address the cost-of-living crisis. Australians are hurting. They are hurting throughout the country; they are hurting throughout my electorate. The impact of inflation and rising interest rates is being felt by businesses and families right across our country. Rising mortgage payments, rising prices at the checkout and rising energy bills are all eating away at already very tight household budgets. Australians are having to work more hours and dig into their savings to make ends meet.
Let's look at real facts, real data. Quarterly CPI data now shows that inflation is still running rampant, at six per cent. Recently released data from NAB reveals that more than two-thirds of Australians under the age of 50 say that the rising cost of living is their biggest cause of stress. Lifeline is reporting that 80 per cent of its calls now relate to cost-of-living pressures. And this is certainly what is happening, what I'm hearing about, in my electorate. I've recently continued to conduct mobile offices around my electorate in suburbs including Bonnet Bay, Sutherland, Jannali, Heathcote, Illawong, Como and Engadine. I thank all my constituents who came out to speak with me. Regardless of which suburb I was in, almost everybody told me the same thing: the cost-of-living crisis is causing real stress, real struggles, and is hurting those Australian households.
If we turn to some of the broken promises of the Prime Minister and of this government, on the cost of housing, just before Minister Collins's failed housing bill was brought into this place she promised, 'There will be $10 billion for housing, and this will build one million new homes.' Instead, the bill revealed nothing but a Ponzi scheme, a scheme so badly put together that not even the Greens party could support it. And now we're not talking about one million new homes; we're talking about 30,000. It dropped very, very quickly.
Talking about why we have these pressures on housing, the average Australian household paying the average Australian mortgage is now paying $1,700 per month more than they were paying in April 2022. In my electorate of Hughes there are over 22,000 mortgage holders. More than 3,000 of these mortgage holders are now in mortgage stress. They are now contributing more than 30 per cent of their income to servicing their mortgage. There are almost 10,000 people renting in the electorate of Hughes. More than 3,000 of these renters contribute more than 30 per cent of their income to facilitating their rental payments. Again, this is real financial and housing stress.
What did we hear this morning from the Prime Minister's Treasurer about mortgage holders struggling with interest rates? He said, 'They can go and speak to their bank.' That was on ABC radio this morning. Interest rates have increased 11 times on this government's watch and, at 4.1 per cent, rates are the highest they have been since 2011. Taming inflation must be this government's priority. Instead, it has had its foot on the accelerator while the Reserve Bank has had to put its foot on the brake. It should not be left only to the Reserve Bank to solve the economic problems facing our country.
Energy shock is promise No. 2 broken. The Prime Minister's promise during the election was a $275 cut to power bills. We know where that has ended up. In New South Wales, in my home state, we are paying an extra $564 a year, and that looks like increasing by at least another 30 per cent over the next quarter.
Something that was not mentioned in the last election campaign was the radical industrial relations policy that's just been announced. Casual workers will now be forced to become permanent employees, regardless of whether that suits them or their employer. This is something that was not mentioned during the election campaign. The Prime Minister must address this cost-of-living crisis now for all Australians.