The Cost of Living Crisis





Subjects: Cost of Living

PETER KHALIL, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WILLS: Thank you, Deputy Speaker. We know people are doing it tough right now, it’s harder to pay the mortgage, to pay the rent, harder to pay bills and essentials. Australians are walking away from the supermarket with much less in their shopping bag than the money they’ve been spending in in the past. The Albanese Labor Government is acutely aware of how difficult it is right now for people just to get by. We are absolutely focused on doing what we can to relieve the pressure.  

Now you would know, Deputy Speaker, we’re experiencing sustained and unprecedented pressure on global energy markets. Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has pushed energy prices to historic highs all over the world. That’s one of the big factors in energy prices, and the Albanese Government brought back Parliament in December last year to take action on rising energy costs. We passed the Energy Price Relief Plan to protect Australians from the worst of the rising energy costs. We delivered targeted relief on power bills to households receiving income support, pensioners, and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders, family Tax Benefits A and B recipients and small business customers. There is no doubt more work to do, but we took these actions to shield Australian families and businesses from the worst of the energy price spikes.  

We’re also delivering cheaper medicine, Deputy Speaker. From the 1st of January this year, we reduced the maximum PBS co-payment from $42.50 to $30. Since then, Australians have paid up to 29% less for their Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme prescriptions. The maximum out of pocket cost for medicines on the PBS is now $12.50 lower. So for a family relying on two or three medications, Deputy Speaker, and there are many families that do rely on that, this can put as much as $450 back into their household budget. That’s a significant assistance for those families. Over 3.2 million prescriptions were cheaper in the first two months of this year and thanks to our policy, patients have saved more than $36 million.  

We’ve also expanded access to the Seniors Health Care Card. More Australians can access cheaper medicine and visits to the GP. We also have fought and secured a pay rise for 2.8 million workers on minimum wage. We’ve delivered fee-free TAFE, making it easier for people to invest in their skills and training. And our changes to childcare, making it more affordable and accessible, come into effect on the 1st of July this year.  

Deputy Speaker, we know there is much more to do. Reducing pressure and giving relief where we can, as quickly as we can, is what the Albanese Labor Government is focused on and will continue to be focused on. Thank you.