Speech: Cost of Living

Speech: Cost of Living Main Image

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (15:43): I am proud to have this opportunity to talk about the real work we are doing to support local people in my electorate of Gilmore on the New South Wales South Coast to help ease the cost of living. The Liberals might like to talk about the cost of living, but the truth is they have consistently and shamefully opposed every cost-of-living relief measure that we have implemented.

We know that people are doing it tough, and that is why I am glad that Labor's tax cuts on 1 July this year will deliver a bigger tax cut for middle Australia, to help with the cost of living. Eighty-seven per cent of taxpayers in Gilmore will receive a bigger tax cut under the Albanese government. We want Australians to earn more and to keep more of what they earn. Our bigger tax cuts for more taxpayers will help make that happen. The Liberals want to take our tax cuts away. They want Australians to work longer for less. Over the past 18 months, and I'll say it again, the Liberals have consistently opposed any action to help ease the cost of living. The Leader of the Opposition and his Liberals are all negative with zero plan.

On coming to government, we capped coal and gas prices and provided targeted energy bill relief, with eligible households receiving $500 towards their energy bills and small businesses receiving $650. Just last week, the Australian Energy Regulator was clear that our energy price relief plan and pumping more renewables into the grid have been successful in bringing down wholesale prices, substantially lowering costs for households, including through the default market offer.

It's up to the Leader of the Opposition and his Liberals to explain why the Liberals voted against easing power prices for Australians and businesses. Instead, with the Liberals you get their expensive nuclear fairytale which would mean looking at 15 years, at least, with no nuclear in the grid and power stations shutting down because they are too old to operate. It's a recipe for disaster. And where will the Liberals build one of the nuclear power stations? Jervis Bay? As I said in my maiden speech, I will never accept a nuclear power station at Jervis Bay.

We have made medicines cheaper. 12,814 60-day prescriptions were dispensed to people with chronic illnesses in my electorate between 1 September and 31 December last year. That was just the first stage of medicines released under this policy, which cut the costs of those medicines in half—again opposed by the Liberals. A further 119,075 scripts in Gilmore were dispensed last year at our cheaper co-payment rate per script. This has saved local people more than $1.6 million just on the cost of medicines under the Albanese government because we reduced the co-payment.

We tripled bulk-billing incentives for the most common GP consultations for pensioners, Commonwealth concession cardholders, and children under 16. In the first two months of this change, bulk-billing rates in my electorate increased by 4.3 per cent. That's more than an estimated 6,000 additional bulk-billed trips to the GP, saving an estimated $252,000 in gap fees. These were all cost-of-living measures opposed by the Liberals. We've opened the Batemans Bay Medicare Urgent Care Clinic, helping local people access urgent critical care using just their Medicare card, easing pressure on GPs and easing pressure on local emergency departments. In its first two months of operation alone, over 1,900 patients have been treated there.

There's so much more in our plan. There are around 4,800 local families benefiting from cheaper childcare and there's our expanded paid parental leave scheme. Our fee-free TAFE has removed cost barriers; helped apprentices, trainees and students; and assisted local businesses with skill shortages. We are getting on with building more social and affordable homes and increasing rent assistance. Wages are rising at the fastest rate in a decade, including for minimum and aged-care workers. Thousands of local people have seen their income support payments boosted. We've done all this as we've delivered the first budget surplus in 15 years.

Unemployment remains at record lows, and more jobs have been created on our watch than any first-term government on record. Inflation is moderating because of our approach to the budget. We're focused on delivering strong and sustainable wages growth and delivering a tax cut to every Australian taxpayer on 1 July. Our economic plan is all about helping Australians earn more and keep more of what they earn. I'm proud to be part of the government that is delivering for our community.