House debates

Thursday, 8 September 2022


Cost of Living

4:34 pm

Photo of Gavin PearceGavin Pearce (Braddon, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Health, Aged Care and Indigenous Health Services) Share this | | Hansard source

Suicide Prevention Australia's State of the nation report was released on Tuesday. The report revealed an unprecedented 70 per cent of Australians are experiencing elevated stress beyond their normal levels compared to this time last year. A conclusion was that two of the greatest stressors were the cost-of-living challenges and personal debt. This is alarming, and so was the report.

We all know that in the last few years it has been incredibly tough right across the nation. We have been challenged like never before. The toll has been great; there is no denying that. It's important to note also that these challenges aren't new; they've been at the forefront of governments' thinking since the pandemic hit back in 2020. It's something the former coalition government managed day in, day out for 2½ long years. In that time, our government was able to respond quickly to every challenge thrown at us. We found a way to provide support when it was needed and where it was needed. We targeted the cost-of-living measures that helped ease pressures on household budgets at the time they needed it most. We reduced taxes so that hardworking Australians kept more of their hard-earned money. We cut the fuel excise, which instantly reduced cost-of-living pressures. We looked after our most vulnerable by delivering a $250 cost-of-living payment to nearly six million pensioners, welfare recipients, veterans and eligible concession card holders. This was at the top of our landmark JobKeeper, JobSeeker and other pandemic measures that were universally applauded right across the nation. People still stop me in the street today and thank me for being a part of the government who saved their business and kept a roof over their head.

In May this year the nation put their trust in the Labor government, whose promise was to tackle, as they put it, spiralling costs of living and a crisis. Australians are still waiting for the Albanese government to keep that promise. On Tuesday, on the back of Suicide Prevention Australia's State of the nation report, a reporter asked the Prime Minister what the Albanese government was doing in the immediate term to help people get through this cost-of-living crisis. For those who missed it, I can update the House that the Prime Minister made four claims. One claim was that his government was responsible for the recent increase in the pension. This is not the truth. The truth is the Department of Social Services regularly reviews the rate of the pension and other welfare payments. This increase was simply a result of that twice-yearly review, and had nothing to do with the Albanese government.

The next claim was that the Albanese government was responsible for the recent increase in the minimum wage. Again, this isn't the truth. The truth is the minimum wage is determined by the Fair Work Commission, an independent and separate-from-government organisation. Their submission was one of many, and I would say they have no more right to claim ownership of the rise in the minimum wage than any other stakeholder.

Finally, the Prime Minister claimed their commitment to cut the costs of medicine and child care will reduce the current cost-of-living pressures ordinary Australians are facing right now. This can't be true. The legislation has not even been introduced into the parliament. If both pieces of legislation pass, the Albanese government has said cheaper medicines will not be available until January next year and cheaper child care until July next year. Therefore, on behalf of the journalist whose question was left unanswered, on behalf of everyone living across the North West, the West Coast and King Island in the great state of Tasmania, and on behalf of all Australians, I ask the Prime Minister: what is your government doing right now to help those struggling through this cost-of-living crisis?