House debates

Monday, 26 September 2022

Questions without Notice

Cost of Living

2:04 pm

Photo of Libby CokerLibby Coker (Corangamite, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Acting Prime Minister. What is the Albanese Labor government doing to ease the cost of living for Australian families, and is the Acting Prime Minister aware of any alternative policies?

2:05 pm

Photo of Richard MarlesRichard Marles (Corio, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Corangamite for her question. She and I are partners in this place in representing the great city of Geelong, which, as of about three o'clock on Saturday afternoon, I can reliably inform the House, is literally the happiest place on earth.

Our government is committed to investments in skills, in technology, in education, which are about trying to build a high-value, high-productivity, high-wage economy. But the issue which is front of mind for every Australian right now is the question of the cost of living. As I said, we understand the pressures that people feel with rising interest rates on their household budgets. It's why easing that pressure is the No. 1 priority of this government. Almost the first act of this government was to seek a real wage increase for the lowest paid. Last week, we saw the biggest increase in the pension in more than a decade. This week, we are dealing with two pieces of legislation which continue this work. The National Health Amendment (General Co-payment) Bill will see a reduction in the maximum co-payment for medicines to $30, which will make medicines cheaper. The Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Cheaper Child Care) Bill will, for 96 per cent of users, make child care less expensive.

But I'm asked whether there are any other alternatives, a question of which those opposite used to be particularly fond. Yesterday, the shadow finance minister gave a particularly succinct answer to that question. She said: 'We're in opposition. We don't have policies.' Can you believe that? Although, given the last 10 years, it's surprising that the Liberal Party feel they need to qualify that statement with the word 'opposition' because in government they had no policies on skills, no policies on productivity, no policies on wages. They did, to be fair, have a whole lot of policies on energy. It's just that they didn't have any that they could agree on. But it does have to be said that in the statement from the shadow minister for finance there was, compared to the last three years, a very commendable and refreshing outbreak of honesty.

After 10 long years, government under Labor is back in the business of economic management. Under the leadership of the Treasurer and finance minister, we will be putting a budget to this House, in about a month, that is going to build a much stronger economy for every Australian.