Tuesday, 2 August 2022
Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers
Cost of Living
I rise to take note of answers given by Senator Gallagher to my friend Senator Brockman. In relation to Senator Sterle's contribution, I'd like to make some preliminary comments. I think it is important that everyone, including those who join us in the gallery, is aware of the fact that Senator Sterle does an outstanding job delivering household items and furniture to those in need in the remote places of Western Australia. I commend Senator Sterle on it, and, to the extent that prices have gone up on diesel, I'm happy to kick in, mate! I'd just make those comments in relation to Senator Sterle.
But the reality is there are cost-of-living pressures which are being faced by Australians all over this country, and the question is: What is going to happen when those Australians go to fill up their cars after the period of the fuel excise being cut in half comes to an end in September? What are they going to do? We're starting to hear stories now—I heard more stories today—of parents, especially in some of our more challenged socioeconomic areas, who are now making choices: 'do I use that petrol in my car to do the shopping or to go to work, or do I use it to take my son or daughter to sport or to participate in all sorts of events that every child in this country has a right to expect an opportunity to participate in?' The question is: what is the government going to do? What is the government going to do to practically take action to confront those cost-of-living pressures?
The reality is that in the last budget for 2022-23, brought down by the former government, on page 9, under 'Budget priorities', was:
Addressing cost of living pressures and managing current challenges through:
that's what we did in government. What is the new government going to do? What is their plan?—
and a $250 cost of living payment for eligible Australian pensioners, welfare recipients, veterans and concession card holders.
That's $250 in the pocket of all those pensioners and welfare recipients. That was the former government's plan. That's what we did in government. What is the new government going to do? What is their plan? These are reasonable questions that should be asked in this place. What is your plan?
I've talked about this:
That was our plan—introduced and delivered at every petrol bowser across this country. What is the government's plan? What are they going to do when that policy runs out after the six-month period, in September? What are they going to do? Australians all over this country are going to be confronted with that additional 22 cents a litre every time they go to fill up their car.
What is the government's plan? We do not know. There is no plan. These are legitimate questions being asked by the opposition, as is our responsibility as an opposition in this place. Just today, interest rates have gone up. The cash rate is now at 1.85 per cent. It hasn't been since 1994, during the Hawke-Keating years, that we've had four consecutive interest rate increases, in four consecutive months. You've got to go all the way back to 1994. That was the last time that happened. What is the government's plan to address cost-of-living pressures? Australians are being hit from all sides in terms of fuel prices, grocery prices, rental increases, interest rates—they're being hit from all sides. Certainly, during my time in this place, I haven't seen this sort of conflation of all these factors occurring at the same time, hitting Australians in their back pocket. What is the government going to do? What is your plan?
Question agreed to.