House debates

Tuesday, 13 February 2024

Questions without Notice

Cost of Living

2:21 pm

Photo of Graham PerrettGraham Perrett (Moreton, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Treasurer. How do the Labor government's efforts to ease cost-of-living pressures fit into its broader economic strategy? What progress is being made and what obstacles are being overcome?

2:22 pm

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

I thank the wonderful member for Moreton for his question and for the way that he represents the southern suburbs of Brisbane and for helping to ensure that every Australian taxpayer gets a tax cut on 1 July. In his community, it means 85 per cent of taxpayers will get a bigger tax cut to help with the cost of living.

This is a really important part of our broader economic strategy to ease the pressure on Australians, to invest in our people and their future and to get the budget in better nick. Our strategy has been endorsed just today, with two new releases. Standard and Poor's reaffirmed our AAA credit rating, praising our strong budget outcomes and endorsing the government's budget strategy. And the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Survey of Consumer Sentiment Index lifted to a 20-month high, and they say it's partly because of our tax plan for Middle Australia.

There is no shortage of challenges in our economy and in the global economy, but we are making welcome and encouraging progress. When we came to office, real wages were going backwards by 3.4 per cent, quarterly inflation was more than three times what it is now, there were huge deficits and there was nowhere near enough to show for a trillion dollars in Liberal debt. Now inflation is moderating, real wages have grown for two consecutive quarters, tax cuts will flow to every taxpayer from 1 July and we have delivered the first surplus in 15 years, which is helping us clean up the mess that we inherited from those opposite.

We know it's not mission accomplished when it comes to inflation or the economy or the budget, and we know that people are still under the pump. That's why easing cost-of-living pressures is this government's highest priority. That's why these tax cuts come on the top of rent assistance, electricity bill relief, cheaper child care, cheaper medicines and more, and it's why we are focused on boosting take-home pay.

It's here, as the Prime Minister said, that the defining difference between those opposite and this government is the clearest. This Albanese Labor government is working to ensure that more Australians earn more and that they keep more of what they earn, whereas that opposition wants people to work longer and for less. It was clear last night in the documentary that ordinary working people didn't get a look-in for the best part of a decade of dysfunction, division and disarray. And now the leftovers from that period have abandoned Middle Australia in opposition, just like they abandoned them in government. They don't even pretend to care about the cost of living anymore. If they cared about the cost of living, they wouldn't have voted against electricity bill relief. If they cared about the cost of living, they wouldn't have said they would unwind our tax cuts for middle Australia. And if they cared about the cost of living, they would actually ask a question about it.