Senate debates

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Cost of Living

3:05 pm

Photo of Slade BrockmanSlade Brockman (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Finance (Senator Gallagher) to questions without notice asked by Opposition senators today.

Once again, we've seen a severe lack of economic literacy from the Labor Party today. We've seen again, following the theme this week, that they have no idea how to tackle the cost-of-living crisis in this country. We have seen severe impacts on the price of groceries. Obviously, we've seen huge increases to the cost of fuel. We've seen massive increases to people's mortgage repayments. Labor is basically saying: 'Wait till the budget. Wait till October. We're not going to do anything about it till October. We're a fiscally responsible government, honestly, but we don't have anything to do now to help Australians. We're going to wait till October.' Quite rightly, I think, the Australian people would be watching closely. They'd be watching this government very closely, and they would be starting to worry that there actually is no plan: no plan to tackle the inflationary pressures in our economy and no plan to tackle the cost-of-living pressures faced by Australian families.

Particularly, in my constituency—I love to talk about everything outside the city—in regional areas, the cost of fuel alone is such a significant pressure. Families now have to make a decision as to whether to continue the Saturday morning football, because the cost of driving the car to practice and then to the game on the weekend is simply too much for the household budget. This is not necessarily something that will affect those in this place—it certainly won't affect the union officials who are advising this government—but it does affect families out there, whether they're in suburbia, outer metro Australia or regional Australia. These pressures are very real, and 6.1 per cent is the headline number, but everyone out there who does the weekly grocery shopping knows that the cost pressures, particularly on groceries, are seemingly much higher than that. You are seeing extraordinary pressure on household budgets in terms of balancing the books, making sure people can get through the week and making sure they can do those extra things that they want to for their kids.

We see again today that we have a government with no plan, no strategy, to help Australian families now. 'Wait till October,' is the answer. 'We're responsible.' Well, you will be responsible. You'll be responsible for an awful lot of economic pain unless you get these settings right. As the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Peter Dutton, said in the other place, the Australian economy needs a very finely balanced response. The government needs to provide a very finely balanced response. We have to protect Australian families from cost-of-living pressures and a wage price spiral. This government needs to be able to deal with both sides of the issue. It is a test of leadership for this Prime Minister, and instead we have Jim Chalmers talking about putting a union rep on the board of the RBA. How is that going to help?

How is that going to help the Australian families who are struggling to make ends meet, Senator O'Neill? How is that going to help the Australian families who are struggling to make ends meet?

Government senators interjecting—

Those opposite—


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