Tuesday, 17 October 2023
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Wong. Just prior to the election, the now Prime Minister posted a photograph of unleaded petrol advertised in Canberra at $1.759 per litre. He commented, 'Who remembers when petrol was under a dollar a litre?' Minister, since you came to government, can you remember the last time unleaded petrol, on average, cost less than $2 a litre?
No, I'm just waiting for Senator Cash to finish. When Senator Cash finishes talking at me, I might get to answer. I was calculating, because obviously I'm not in town much. I filled up the car, which is my mum's, actually, which I now have. And I was thinking, 'This reflects what we know, which is that people are hurting.' Fuel is much higher than we would all like, but, as you know, fuel is set by the global markets. You would know that petrol prices are set by global markets. What we can do is do something about getting wages moving again. What we can do is deliver cost-of-living relief through cheaper medicines. What we can do is deliver energy price relief.
I'm asked a cost-of-living question by a party that opposes cheaper medicines, a party that wants higher energy prices and a party that opposes cheaper child care. This is the party that pretend they care about Australians' cost of living.
As I said, fuel prices are set by global markets. What we can ensure is that the ACCC monitors petrol, but the reality is that the factors driving fuel prices are the international benchmark price and the value of the Australian dollar. The last time I looked it wasn't the Liberal Party's policy to fix the exchange rate. What we can do is deliver cost-of-living relief, which those opposite reflexively oppose.
COLBECK () (): According to the Australian Automobile Association, the peak motor body representing Australian motoring associations, households now spend more than $415 per week on transport costs—fuel—accounting for almost 16 per cent of their income. When will Australians see fuel prices come down, just as the Prime Minister promised they would if Labor was elected?
Two points. The first is, as I said—and you know this—the factors driving fuel prices are international markets and the value of the Australian dollar. You have no policies whatsoever to deal with either of those issues or to change what the fuel price would be. That's the first point.
The second point is: What are the factors that a government can control? What can the government do? The first is that it can be a government that actually thinks we want to get wages moving. We want to get wages moving so that people have more capacity to deal with some of these really challenging economic circumstances that the global economy is imposing on this country. Those of us on this side actually think getting wages moving again is a good idea. What do you think? You're a low-wage party. You're the party of lower wages, a deliberate design feature. Senator Cash, who now is very quiet, put in a submission talking about the importance of lower wages. I mean, really! (Time expired)
In another pre-election tweet, 32 days after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Prime Minister stated: 'When the cost of things like petrol go up, families have to make sacrifices. It can mean movie night is cancelled or kids miss out on important school trips.' Given his preoccupation with photo ops, does the Prime Minister realise the sacrifices families are now making as a result of his broken promises on petrol prices, energy bills and wages?
A go vernment senator: That was your guy!
I'll take the interjection from my side. Maybe you got the wrong Prime Minister, because the photo op guy was your guy, actually. Our guy and our people: we want higher wages. You want lower wages. We want energy price relief. You oppose it. We want cheaper medicines. You oppose it.
Opposition senators interjecting—
We want cheaper child care. You oppose it. And on and on and on. You're a bunch of frauds when it comes to cost of living, and people know it. People know you're not serious about cost of living. You've always been the party of lower wages and you always will be.