House debates

Monday, 26 September 2022

Questions without Notice

Cost of Living

3:05 pm

Photo of Bridget ArcherBridget Archer (Bass, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Treasurer. Since its election, this government has failed to take any practical action to address rising costs of living, and over the next few weeks, Tasmanian families will see a 25c-a-litre jump in fuel prices. Does the Treasurer expect my constituents to wait until he delivers his budget in a month for any sign of additional relief, or will this government do its job and produce a plan for addressing this cost of living crisis?

Photo of Jim ChalmersJim Chalmers (Rankin, Australian Labor Party, Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

I say respectfully to the member for Bass that if those opposite didn't want the fuel excise relief to end on Wednesday night, why did they legislate that before the government changed hands? I find it very concerning that those opposite are either being dishonest about that or don't understand that that's the legislation that they put into this parliament, that the fuel excise relief will stop on Wednesday night of this week. We've been very upfront with people—before the election, during the election and after the election—that, when you inherit a budget which is heaving with a trillion dollars in Liberal Party debt from those opposite spraying money around to their mates, giving money out to everyone who comes through the door, that necessitates some difficult decisions on this side of the House. We could do what those opposite have done and pretend away these fiscal pressures which are damaging the budget and making it harder for us to provide cost-of-living relief to Australians right around the country—

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Barker is warned.

Photo of Jim ChalmersJim Chalmers (Rankin, Australian Labor Party, Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

and we're not prepared to do that. We've been upfront about the future of the fuel excise relief that will come off on Wednesday night for all the reasons we've been saying since before the election. It's consistent with the legislation that those opposite proposed and passed through this House. When people hear those opposite playing politics with that petrol excise relief, they understand that it's those opposite who legislated it to finish on Wednesday night.

When it comes to the broader costs of living, you'd think that, after a decade of deliberate wage stagnation and deliberate wage suppression, those opposite would be too ashamed of themselves to come in here and talk about the cost of living. If it hadn't been for a government that said that a deliberate design feature of their economic policy was to keep wages low, then Australians would find it easier to deal with these costs of living, which are skyrocketing as a consequence of some international factors as well as some domestic factors. What we've said since the election, before the election and during the election campaign itself is that we will provide responsible cost-of-living relief. We'll make child care cheaper, we'll make medicines cheaper, we'll make TAFE fees cheaper, and we'll get wages moving again after that wasted decade of deliberate wage stagnation and wage suppression. The difference between this side of the House is that we will always do what's right for working people in this country who are dealing with these cost-of-living pressures. Those opposite spent a decade making people's lives harder by going after their wages and working conditions.