Wednesday, 30 March 2022
Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living Support and Other Measures) Bill 2022; Second Reading
I thank senators for their contributions to the debate today. The bill before us, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living Support and Other Measures) Bill 2022, outlines a number of cost-of-living measures that were announced in last night's budget, delivered by the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, in the other place.
A number of the schedules in the bill include things like making sure that the Medicare low-income thresholds keep pace with the cost of living; making COVID testing expenses tax-deductible for workers who require testing to attend work; and making it easier for businesses to create employee share schemes, giving more Australians opportunities to share in the economic value that they create through their work. The bill reduces the GDP uplift for GST instalments, saving businesses money. It includes the one-off cost-of-living tax offset, to support low- and middle-income earners, of $420 for the 2021-22 financial year. It increases the low- and middle-income tax offset benefit to $1,500 for singles or $3,000 for couples, provided on assessment of a tax return for this 2021-22 income year. It also increases the affordability of drugs that are on the PBS. In fact, 2,800 new drugs have been listed on the PBS since 2013, when the coalition came to government. It introduces a cost-of-living payment of $250 to pensioners, veterans, carers, jobseekers, concession card holders and eligible self-funded retirees. And, of course, it cuts the excise on petrol by half for the next six months.
These are the cost-of-living measures that we have promised in the budget. They are helping to ease the cost-of-living pressures on ordinary Australians now—cost-of-living pressures that have been caused by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia but also by the global supply chain issues that are a response to COVID-19.
More importantly, the budget last night did not just deal with cost-of-living pressures but also cemented our long-term economic plan that creates more jobs for Australians: lowering taxes; cutting red tape; investing in infrastructure and skills for a future workforce; keeping energy prices low—about eight per cent lower in the last two years alone—while at the same time ensuring that we continue on the journey to net zero by 2050; making Australia a leading, top-10 digital economy and society by 2030; and increasing our sovereign capabilities in modern manufacturing in areas like space, defence, food and beverages, and critical minerals and mining technology. That is the plan for the future.
Most importantly, though, this bill is about reducing the cost of living, right now. I commend this bill to the Senate.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.