MPI - Cost of living

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE - HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

I am pleased to rise today to join my colleagues, the member for Whitlam, the member for Robertson and the member for Chisholm, on this important MPI, and I welcome the contributions from the members for Farrer, Herbert, Groom and Dawson.

It's amazing to be here on the government benches and watch the conversion of those opposite, who've suddenly discovered cost-of-living pressures. There has been an epiphany. There has also been on display today a demonstration of collective amnesia. It's like the last 10 years have just been washed away, washed away in 107 days.

 The Albanese Labor government went to an election critically concerned about the cost-of-living pressures and a trillion dollars of debt with too little to show for it. We went to an election critically concerned about nine years of wage stagnation, with wages going backwards in this country. We went to an election critically concerned about the inaction of a nine long-tired-year-old government that failed at every turn to do the things that this country needed it to do. In fact, it was not just inaction; there was a sense of deliberation in the things that they did. The actual strategy to keep wages low was admitted by them to be part of their economic strategy—the decisions they made, the choices they made.

When I first came here in 2013, one of the things that I learnt in that first year was that governments are about priorities, budgets are about priorities and every decision a government makes, every action it takes, speaks to its priorities. What we saw from those opposite when they were in government made it very clear what their priorities were. They weren't so concerned about cost of living when they oversaw penalty rate cuts. There was no concern then about the cost of living for people in my electorate who wore that very hard. There was no concern for casual workers when they were not granted the same as other workers in the economy during the pandemic; no concern for the thousands in my electorate. There was no concern for the families that I represent when, during the pandemic, casual working parents had no work. I was hearing from school principals about year 12 students who were neglecting their studies because they were being offered 40, 50, 60 hours a week at McDonald's, and those young people felt compelled to support their families. When I heard about kids going to school without lunches day in, day out during the pandemic there was no squealing about cost-of-living pressures for those the former government neglected, not just over nine years but in our acute memories of the pandemic. So the conversion today is extraordinary. But enough about them; enough about those opposite.

This government is getting on with the job. This government has introduced, has ensured, a wage rise for our lowest-paid workers. We've seen that happen in a week in government. It's an extraordinary achievement. We've also seen members of this government reinstate Australia on the world stage, which, in the longer term, will impact cost of living, because it will mean that we have better relationships internationally, better trade deals and a better reputation.

 This government is getting on with the job. We saw last week the Jobs and Skills Summit—an opportunity for Australians to come together. After nine years of division and broken promises, after nine years of neglect, we have an opportunity to move this country forward, to make Australia a better place for families like the families I represent and for families right around the country. As a government, we will have our priorities very clear. Our priorities are about opportunities for all. Our priorities are about taking the hand we have been dealt after nine long years of neglect and doing the things Australians tell us will make a difference. Bringing Australians together to work together towards a better future—that's what this government is about. We will deal with costof-living pressures. We will do it with Australians.

 

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