House debates

Tuesday, 27 February 2024

Matters of Public Importance

Cost of Living

4:05 pm

Photo of Cassandra FernandoCassandra Fernando (Holt, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Since the election of the Albanese government, there has been a single focus of this government: how to support working families and those worse off. As a representative of the people of Holt, it is my duty to advocate for policies that alleviate the burdens faced by families struggling to make ends meet, particularly in the outer south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, where my electorate is located and where the challenges are keenly felt.

In my electorate of Holt, like many electorates in the outer suburbs, families are grappling with the relentless rise in essential expenses, such as housing, child care, health care and utilities. These pressures weigh heavily on the shoulders of everyday Australians, straining their budgets and limiting their opportunities for financial security and prosperity. This is why I am proud to be a part of a government with a plan—a plan to tackle this cost-of-living crisis. At the heart of this plan lies the implementation of cost-of-living tax cuts aimed at providing immediate relief to hardworking Australians, especially in those electorates like Holt and Dunkley.

Under our plan every single Australian taxpayer will receive a tax cut, regardless of their income—11.5 million Australians will receive a bigger tax cut than under the Liberals' plan. This tax cut, one that the coalition had to be dragged to support, will provide more relief to 90 per cent of Australians, especially those earning under $45,000 a year. How can the Liberals lecture us on priorities while the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is running around on national TV stating that her party will unwind tax cuts for every taxpayer? I guess the people who stack the shelves at Woolies, like my former colleagues, or those who cook our Friday night takeaway are not a priority for the Liberal Party.

In Holt, where families are feeling the pinch of skyrocketing living expenses, these tax cuts will make a tangible difference. For instance, a minimum wage worker on $45,000 a year will be $800 better off under Labor's plan. These tax cuts will extend to truck drivers, IT workers, nurses and teachers, like my sister-in-law Christine. With the average tax cut for residents of Holt being a substantial $1,321, these changes will bring significant relief to families.

Our priorities go beyond just tax cuts. Labor's 10-point plan includes a range of initiatives aimed at tackling the root causes of the cost-of-living crisis. This is a $23 billion package to support working families. This package includes our priority for energy relief, a priority the Liberals have voted against. This includes our priority for cheaper medicines, again a priority the Liberals voted against. This includes our priority to get wages moving again, a priority the Liberal Party consistently votes against. When it comes to the cost of living, the Liberals always say no.

We understand that true prosperity requires a holistic plan that addresses the cost-of-living pressures. This is why our plan encompasses measures to create jobs and boost wages. Getting people into work and giving them a pay rise is the No. 1 way to tackle the cost of living for families. Over 650,000 new jobs have been created since Labor came into government and, last year, Labor delivered the highest annual wage growth since 2009. We have got wages moving again for the first time since 2018. After a decade of Liberal policies that suppressed wages and wanted people to work longer for less, Labor's priority is very clear. We are committed to fighting tirelessly for policies that put the interests of working families in electorates like Holt and Dunkley first.


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