House debates

Monday, 27 November 2023


Mallee Electorate: Cost of Living

7:30 pm

Photo of Anne WebsterAnne Webster (Mallee, National Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Regional Health) Share this | | Hansard source

Australia has long been called 'the lucky country', but Australians are down on their luck under the Albanese Labor government, who are adding fuel to the fire of the worst cost-of-living crisis we have experienced for many years. I recently emailed Mallee constituents to ask them to share their cost-of-living stories. I have to say, they are heartbreaking. I received hundreds of them.

The 12 interest rate rises under this government, spiralling food and petrol prices and obscene electricity costs are taking their toll. Ken King, of Birchip, tells me he and his partner require regular trips to attend a medical specialist in Bendigo and Melbourne, many hours away, which comes at a great cost given the price of fuel. Ken notes this is on top of inescapable rising grocery prices because in a small town like Birchip there is no cheap alternative. Glenda Booth, in Lake Boga, worries she is being forced into aged care because she cannot afford rising costs of living in her home. Glenda is juggling home and car insurance, groceries, power bills and private health insurance, which she needs to pay for cochlear implants. Ian Jeffrey, from Avoca, is 70 years of age and is being forced to dip into his savings just to pay his bills. Elizabeth told me she doesn't use her heating or cooling, and free camping is the only holiday she can afford. Christmas presents are an unaffordable luxury—how sad.

Many have written to me who are entitled to retire but feel they simply cannot afford to. Families on dual incomes tell me their mortgage of around $300,000 in Mallee has increased by $1,000 a month—money they have to find from somewhere. A young mother of three children tells me she feels she is missing out on being a mum because she has to put in extra hours along with her husband just to meet their family's needs. Some of my constituents have cut down to one to two meals a day, if you can call peanut butter and Vegemite on toast a meal. This is no way for people to live.

Labor's economic mismanagement is heaping pressure on Australian families. Michele Bullock, the Reserve Bank governor, has confirmed that Australia's world-leading inflation is being driven by domestic factors. It is increasingly homegrown, she says. Yet the Treasurer and the Prime Minister blame the rest of the world—and the coalition, I might say—for their failures on inflation and the economy. High inflation, soaring interest rates and rising income taxes means Australia has recorded the biggest fall in disposable household income of any developed country. Labor are hellbent on eyewateringly expensive pet projects, whether it's throwing business under the bus for their union masters or the secretive cost of the Murray-Darling buyback wrecking ball, slapping Australian farmers with a biosecurity bill run up by foreign importers and their competitors—not to mention raping and pillaging prime agricultural land with their reckless rush to renewables and transmission lines.

Labor needs to rein in government spending on vanity projects that have no material benefit for our communities. Instead of fixing its cost-of-living crisis, Labor remains obsessed with dragging Australia into its ideological inferno—a failed climate and energy plan and throwing incendiary buckets of taxpayer money to large energy companies to feed its climate action volcano. And why is this so?

It is to shore up Greens-leaning electorates for Labor. Labor's reckless, debt driven agenda appeases an aggressive agenda. They cook the books to pretend nuclear energy is a pariah, yet it is the energy minister who is making Australia a pariah on the global stage.

The best way to effectively combat the rising cost of living and to lower checkout prices is to reduce, not increase, the cost for farmers and other producing people. This is what Mallee residents and families need.