House debates

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Questions without Notice

Cost of Living

2:24 pm

Jerome Laxale (Bennelong, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. Tackling the rising costs of living in Australia requires a comprehensive response. How is the government helping Australians manage the cost-of-living crisis it inherited?

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Thanks very much to the member for Bennelong for that important question. We do know that people are doing it tough out there and they're under cost-of-living pressure. We know that the costs of ordinary supermarket goods and other cost-of-living expenses are going up, but for a decade we had wages that weren't going up and weren't keeping up with the cost of living.

That's why the government has an economic plan to deal with the cost-of-living pressures and to lift the speed limit on our economy. The first of those is helping Australians with the cost of living through measures like our plans to cut childcare costs, our plans to cut the costs of medicines by up to $12.50 a script, our plan to make more work more secure by giving Australians greater financial certainty from one week to the next. That will be a focus of our Jobs and Skills Summit.

The second part of the plan is growing wages over time. We successfully argued for a decent pay rise for the lowest paid, some 2.8 million, workers. Remember some arguing that the sky would fall in if people on the minimum wage of $20.33 an hour got a dollar increase per hour in their wage? The Fair Work Commission made the assessment that a 5.2 per cent increase should be granted, and we welcomed that. We indeed welcomed that absolutely, because that is important for people to not fall behind. We also want to train people for higher wage opportunities and to grow the economy, in particular the new economy, through our National Reconstruction Fund, to invest in industries, delivering more secure, well-paid jobs.

But the third element of our plan is also untangling our supply chains and dealing with the supply side of the inflation challenge, by investing in cheaper, cleaner, more reliable energy—I know those opposite still don't get that fact, that renewables are the cheapest form of energy—but also addressing skills and labour shortages through 465,000 fee-free TAFE places, an additional 20,000 university places, 10,000 apprenticeships in new energy jobs.

But also our establishing the National Reconstruction Fund, our Buy Australian Plan, our dealing with infrastructure projects that actually boost productivity rather than looking at the electoral map—together these three measures, helping with the cost of living, growing wages over time, untangling our supply chain issues, will all lead to higher economic growth, more security and higher living standards for Australians. That's our economic plan, and we intend to pursue it in partnership with business and unions and civil society at the Jobs and Skills Summit next month.