MPI – Cost of living crisis

Wednesday, 18 October 2023

Mr PITT: The member for Blair’s biggest complaint is that there aren’t enough people on the opposition side, but we don’t need more than four to put you to bed, Sunshine, I can tell you! In fact, this is an overkill; four is too many—far too many.

Coming to the MPI: what we know is there a very few tradespeople on that side. The member for Hunter is here, and I acknowledge that, as he’s a former fitter and turner, there is at least one on that side of the parliament; I’m not sure about the others. I want to use an analogy. When it comes to the cost of living in this country, the people of Australia are in the iron vice. They are between the iron jaws—and this is a piece of apparatus where you turn the screw and the vice gets tighter—and they are getting absolutely screwed by the cost of living, and it is because of the policies of those opposite. This is a multi-jaw vice; it is coming from every single direction. They are paying more in interest rates—increases from those opposite. They’re paying more for food because of the policies of those opposite. Inflation continues to increase, which drives up the cost of pretty much everything. 

In every single direction, they are getting more pressure in terms of their cost of living. I did a piece in a Sky interview where I spoke about the impact of the increases in electricity prices under this government and the impact that would have on the individual who is trying to cook their steak of a night time. I’ve got to tell you that I got a lot of complaints about the fact that I spoke about steak. People came to me and said: ‘We can’t afford to buy steak. We are buying party pies and sausage rolls because the cost of living is so high we can’t afford to buy food of that quality.’ We get it. We understand what is happening to the Australian people. If you look at the policies of those opposite that are screwing the vice even tighter, they are around energy prices; they are around fuel. We have seen those opposite, this government, spend an additional $188 billion in their budgets—$188 billion. And what’s the impact we’ve seen? They’ve also increased the heavy-vehicle road user charge. Every single vehicle owner in this country who was eligible for much better rebates on their diesel has seen that increase, and it will continue to increase. What does that do? It puts up the cost of transport, the cost of logistics and the cost of the delivery of the food that these individuals need. This is one of the reasons that the policies of this government continue to impact every single Australian. They are in the vice grip of the cost of living, and it’s getting tighter and tighter and tighter.

What do we see in the media this week? We see a prelim of Melbourne Cup day, and not in a good way. We see commentary that the Reserve Bank is likely to increase interest rates once again—again. Every single Australian with a mortgage is now paying more under this Labor government. Every single Australian is paying more for their food. Every single Australian is paying more for transport and logistics. We see things that have impacts even on the social side. We see the closure of aged-care facilities. We see individuals come into this place and talk up Labor policies, but what I’m seeing is the closure of an aged-care centre in my region. It’s been announced for the end of the year.

I’m pleased that the Minister for Health and Aged Care is in the chamber, because the first government speaker, the member for Fenner, spoke a lot about urgent care clinics and the great service that’s being provided in a number of places. This federal Labor government committed to an urgent care clinic in Bundaberg being in place from 1 July this year. I’m quite confident that, if I look at the date today in the calendar, we have gone past 1 July. So I say to the minister for health: where is the urgent care clinic in Bundaberg? When will it be delivered for the people of Bundaberg and regions? When will they get their opportunity? It’s great for others, and I’m very pleased that they have that opportunity, but it has not been delivered for the people I represent. It is yet another broken commitment from those opposite. They continue to break their promises, whether it is on electricity prices, urgent care clinics or the cost of transport and fuel.

Every single Australian is suffering because of the focus of this Prime Minister and this federal government on the weekend’s referendum for a very long period of time. While the government continues to be distracted, the Australian people will pay.  While the government continues to be distracted by other issues, the Australian people will have increases in their cost of living. Who can forget the Prime Minister, when he was running for the job he is currently in, waving around a $1 coin? That $1 coin is now worth far less under this federal Labor government because real costs have increased and real wages have gone backwards, and it is the policies of this government that are screwing the vice tighter on the cost of living.

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