House debates

Tuesday, 27 February 2024

Matters of Public Importance

Cost of Living

4:26 pm

Photo of Carina GarlandCarina Garland (Chisholm, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Indeed, my intention in raising this issue was really to heighten the level of debate in this chamber. But I'll move on.

Since the election our No. 1 priority has been to address inflation and cost-of-living pressures. We know a lot of people in our communities are doing it tough. That's why our recently announced tax cuts will deliver a bigger tax cut for Middle Australia to help with the cost of living. This builds on our targeted relief while not adding to inflation. Let's talk about priorities. We've already delivered electricity bill relief. We've made medicines cheaper and we've made it easier and cheaper to see a doctor. We've invested in cheaper child care and in expanding parental leave. We are building more social and affordable homes and increasing rent assistance. We've also provided fee-free TAFE, and wages are rising at the fastest rate for a decade, including for some of our lowest-paid workers on the minimum wage and aged-care workers. We've done all of this at the same time as we've delivered the first budget surplus in 15 years and created a record number of jobs.

We know we have a big job to do. Good governments do have a big job to do, because they take their commitment to Australians really seriously. We're making vital investments in the capacity of our economy, laying the foundations for future growth, and our efforts to repair the budget are taking pressure off inflation when it is most acute. Right throughout our term, we have maintained a primary focus on the cost of living, wages, jobs and building a stronger economy for all Australians. Real wages growth is back and ahead of schedule, and we want Australians to earn more and keep more of what they earn.

This week, we saw the latest wage figures are showing a 4.2 per cent increase throughout the year, the equal fastest annual growth since 2009. This is a real wage increase for people. The gender pay gap is the lowest it has been on record. It's down by 2.1 per cent since the government came to office. And of course, on 1 July, every single Australian taxpayer will be getting a tax cut because of Labor tax plan.

We want Australians to earn more and to keep more of what they earn. Those opposite want Australians to work longer for less. Those opposite have no plan to ease the cost of living. All those opposite offer Australians is negativity and division. Over the last 18 months the opposition has consistently stood against action to help ease the cost of living. They've opposed more Australian jobs, they've opposed higher wages and better working conditions, they've opposed electricity bill relief, they've opposed cheaper medicines, they've opposed fee-free TAFE and now they don't even really know what they want to do about our Labor cost-of-living tax cuts. They're all negativity and no plan.

I urge those opposite to do the right thing, stop the delays and back our economic reform in the Senate to ease the cost of living for all Australian taxpayers. On this side of House, we offer aspiration, ideas and action. Those opposite offer negativity and division. I'm proud to be part of a government that prioritises people over politics and is getting on with the job of good government that we were voted in to do.


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