House debates

Tuesday, 23 May 2023

Questions without Notice


2:12 pm

Photo of Louise Miller-FrostLouise Miller-Frost (Boothby, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Treasurer. How has the Albanese Labor government worked to build a stronger, fairer and more secure economy following years of neglect, and how will it continue this work in the months and years ahead?

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

I thank the member for Boothby for her question and congratulate her on her first year of giving the people of Boothby the representation that they need and deserve in that really lovely part of Adelaide.

Australians have every right to be proud of what our nation has achieved together over the past 12 months: the most jobs created under a new government on record, and unemployment near a 50-year low. Wages have started moving again after nearly a decade of stagnation and deliberate suppression. We have begun the hard yards of repairing our nation's finances, not as an end in themselves but as a foundation for everything we want to do for our people. We know that Australians are under the pump, and that's what motivates the Albanese government each and every day as we work to take some of the edge off these cost-of-living pressures without adding to inflation and as we clear away the wreckage and the debris of a wasted decade in this country.

We are delivering, as the Prime Minister said, cheaper early childhood education, cheaper medicines, cheaper education with fee-free TAFE. We are expanding paid parental leave. We're taking the sting out of energy price rises, through price caps, while providing bill rebates to more than five million households and a million small businesses. We're increasing the base rate for payments like JobSeeker, youth allowance and Austudy. We successfully advocated for wage increases for minimum and award wage workers and funded pay rises for those in the aged-care sector as well, and we are increasing the maximum rate of Commonwealth rent assistance by 15 per cent—its biggest increase in over three decades.

At the same time as we've delivered this responsible cost-of-living relief, we are laying the foundations for future growth by investing in skills and training and supporting businesses to innovate and grow so that we can ensure our economy manages and maximises some of the big shifts that are underway—like the growth of the care economy, the possibilities of data and digital, and the vast industrial and economic opportunities of net zero. This month's budget was an important part of pursuing our economic agenda, but there's more to be done in the months ahead: a wellbeing framework, an intergenerational report, an employment white paper and more work to be done on financial market reform and sustainable finance as well.

A year ago today, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and a handful of us were sworn in for the first time. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve the Australian people and to do what we can to strengthen their economy. There is lots we can be proud of from our first 12 months, but we do know that a lot of Australians are doing a tough, and we do know that there's plenty more work to do to strengthen our economy and to deliver more opportunities for more Australians in more parts of our great country.