MPI – Cost of Living

Thursday, 16 February 2023

Mr PITT: We humbly accept the apology from the member for Moreton. I think it was the acronym he was intending to use: GOAT, greatest of all time. So we forgive him.

I want to start with some quotes, and we’ll play a little guessing game about who these might be from: ‘Look, it’s the job of the Prime Minister to deal with the challenges Australia faces and not to constantly just blame someone else.’ ‘As your Prime Minister, I won’t run from responsibility.’ ‘I think you’ve got to accept responsibility.’ I want to step up to the plate. I will accept responsibility.’ ‘I’ll take responsibility. I’ll show leadership.’ And, finally, ‘I think that Australians want a government that does its job, that doesn’t always blame someone else, that accepts responsibility.’

Who do you think that might have been? Well, it was the now Prime Minister, the member for Grayndler. They are quotes from the now Prime Minister. Every single question time, we put questions forward to the Prime Minister, to the Treasurer, to others, about, firstly, the $275 that was promised in reductions in electricity prices and, secondly, about the cost of living, because the people that I represent, and people right across this country, are hurting. They are absolutely hurting. We have seen significant increases. The most recent report I’ve seen is that the cost of living is up 9.3 per cent. I genuinely do not know how they are paying their bills. We have some 800,000 mortgage holders who are going to come off fixed interest rates onto a change of rate and have a substantial change in the payments they have to make every month. We continue to ask questions about what is a serious issue, yet those opposite don’t answer those questions; in fact, they find them funny on occasion. They think it’s more important to have a shot at the member for Hume, for example, or others. These are serious issues for the people of Australia, and I think they will see through the answers that are being put forward, because they are not taken seriously. There is nothing that matters more to the Australian people right now than their ability to pay their bills, and it is getting harder under this government, not easier. It is getting much, much harder, not easier.

Then, of course, we come to the great champion with the great solution of Jimbonomics. Now, Jimbonomics—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Claydon ): Excuse me, Member for Hinkler. I think it would be helpful for you to withdraw that comment.

Mr PITT: I withdraw it. It’s a description of a particular treatise, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I withdraw it if it assists the chamber.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you very much.

Mr PITT: We see in this 6,000-word treatise that will rebuild capitalism that the priority of the new Labor government is to change the way that capitalism has worked in the country for a very, very long time, and worked successfully. We see proposals where they can take your superannuation—as in mine, not yours, Madam Deputy Speaker—to build someone else a house but not to pay for your own house. We see proposals where investments will be about social outcomes, not returns. I’m confident that those who are out there investing in superannuation want to maximise the ability for them at the time that they retire, so that they get more benefit, so that they can live for longer without looking for support from the Commonwealth and others. With the cost of living up 9.3 per cent, I’m advised that wages are up only three per cent. That is a significant differential, and it hurts.

What happens locally is things like this. This is a story from Bundaberg today on the School Savvy program. I congratulate CatholicCare’s Shari Jackson and the rest of the team, but I am absolutely appalled that it’s even necessary. The School Savvy program is in its fourth year. This time round, in the first half of a week they had a thousand people utilise these services. What are these services? They’re services—essential school supplies, haircuts and second-hand uniforms—provided to people who are facing significant financial pressure. The fact that we have a thousand people in my local area who need this support is an absolute disgrace. I congratulate those individuals out there working hard to make sure they help individuals who cannot pay their bills. They are taking responsibility. Our local community is taking responsibility to help those less fortunate who are really struggling, whether because of power prices, gas prices, changes in wages or massive increases in interest rates. We’ve seen eight interest rate increases in a row in a very short period of time, and they affect everyone who has a mortgage.

I say to those opposite: next time you have a question in question time on cost of living, don’t have a shot at the member for Hume; answer the question. Tell us what the plan is and how it will be fixed.

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