Senate debates

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Matters of Public Importance


4:54 pm

Photo of Louise PrattLouise Pratt (WA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

The MPI before us today is a very flimsy fig leaf for the opposition in terms of their own record in government. It's all very well for those opposite to start talking about cost of living and inflationary pressures that all started under their government and to seek to pin that all home to the Labor Party. The simple fact is that you missed the opportunity to ease cost-of-living pressures for Australians. You had a direct impact on inflationary pressures inside the Australian economy.

Let's not forget the so-called fiscal restraint that you claimed to have in trying to demonstrate that you weren't having inflationary pressure on the economy and that you weren't spending as much as you were. For example, let's not forget the so-called 'zombie measures', which Senator Gallagher has so eloquently outlined so often in this chamber, as unfunded measures in our federal budget. When we talk about these issues in this place, those opposite look at us incredulously, as if to say: 'Well, of course we weren't going to de-fund that. Of course we weren't.' The simple fact is either you were or you weren't. The budget papers say you were because the measures weren't there in your bottom line. If you were intending to keep such measures funded, then you can't take credit for the downward pressure on inflation for not funding them. Those opposite can't have their cake and eat it too.

Here we have had an excellent finance minister and an excellent Treasurer go through the very hard slog of assessing measures in the budget, leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that we can maximise relief for families while putting downward pressure on inflation. The cost of living in Australia is, as we know, hitting many Australians extremely hard. Inflation, of course, remains our defining economic challenge this year, as it was last year. We know we are riding the waves of not only the global consequences around the war in Ukraine but also the decade of wasted opportunities from the previous government that have put enormous pressure on supply chains here in Australia and in terms of our global networks.

Happily, Australians understand that our government has inherited these challenges, not created them. Australians look to the Labor government with purpose, to address these difficult challenges and to take responsibility for them—unlike those opposite. I have to say that it is indeed a struggle for Australians facing rising interest rates and rising costs of living, but the only way to bring this under control is through deliberate budget measures. The RBA has one set of levers, and our government has another. We have the opportunity to relieve cost-of-living pressures through the measures in this budget, and we are glad to do so. This means it's important to prioritise relief where Australians need it most. It means we need to prioritise services and utilities et cetera that Australians really rely on and need: bulk-billing, energy price relief, rent assistance and the expansion of the eligibility for single parents and carers for parenting payments— (Time expired)


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