Thursday, 28 August 2008
Cost of Living
Thank you, Mr Deputy President. I would say to you that it is unlikely Senator Conroy will say anything in this debate because it is a debate about the cost-of-living pressures and would require a working knowledge of economics. I am sure they have trotted out Senator Hutchins and Senator Hurley to do this.
I return to the fact that, as credible as what I say in this chamber is, of course it is going to be refuted. But there are some things the government will be unable to refute—that is, the simple fact that the cost of living has risen by 4.5 per cent. It is a cost-of-living increase that we have not seen since we radically reformed the taxation system that made this country function much more efficiently and much more appropriately thereby giving greater revenue to the states. This figure is a product of nine months of very, very poor decisions and a lack of important decisions by the Labor Party. I will name some of the cost-of-living increases. Financial insurance services have increased by 9.9 per cent over the last 12 or so months. Transportation has increased by 6.9 per cent. Every family has suffered at the hands of these sorts of increases. Health and alcohol and tobacco have each increased by 4.8 per cent. These are increases that impact upon so many Australians.
We all require health and we on this side want to see private health insurance taken up and encouraged because it will keep premiums down for everyone and relieve a burden on the Australian public health system. But what does the government do? The government tries so hard to reinvent itself and then cannot help but fight the class war against private health insurance. We are going to see about one million people reduce their private health insurance if the government gets its way, which I sincerely hope it will not. We are going to see an increased burden on the public health system, which is going to see an increase in costs for private health insurance.
What does the government do about the cost increases for alcohol? The fact is they whack up another tax. They try to grab another $3 billion under the guise of a health measure. This has been disproved time and time and time again, but the simple fact is they want another $3 billion. They want $3 billion, so they look around and they think: ‘How can we do this? Let’s tax the men and women of Australia, who probably enjoy a ready-mixed drink on the weekends around the barbecue.’ They have put up taxes in all sorts of ways and accordingly are adding to inflation. Inflation is measured by the consumer price index. When prices go up in the basket of goods on which CPI is measured, inflation rises. This seems to have been lost on some on the other side.
I want to go back in history to a noted commentator—noted by those of us who are interested in history—who in 1605 was asked to give advice to the king on how he could maintain his treasury.