Speech: Cost of living relief plan

Speech: Cost of living relief plan Main Image

16 October 2023

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (16:50): Today I want to talk about one of the most pressing issues facing my community, the cost of living.



It is no secret that household budgets are under pressure, but that's why addressing inflation and providing targeted and responsible cost-of-living relief is our No. 1 priority. Since being elected, we have rolled out substantial targeted cost-of-living relief measures, putting billions of dollars back into the pockets of Australians who need it most. It's all part of our 10-point plan to address the cost-of-living pressures in our economy.


Let's start with cheaper medicines. The Albanese Labor government have already helped people save thousands of dollars through our cheaper medicines policy. We have dropped the previous co-payment from $42.50 to $30. This measure alone has already saved local people in the Gilmore electorate over $772,000 in medicine costs on over 69,000 prescriptions. But it is not only that. As of last month, doctors are now able to prescribe 92 of the most common medications listed on the PBS for 60 days. This is twice the medication for the price of a single script. This will save patients up to $180 per eligible medicine a year. People will also save on unnecessary trips to the doctor. They will also save on fewer trips to the pharmacy.


Recently, I announced the location for the Medicare urgent care clinic at Batemans Bay. The urgent care clinic will provide free care for urgent but non-life-threatening injuries. There will also be a Head to Health clinic opening in Moruya for adults and a new headspace opening in Kiama for young people aged 12 to 25. Both these clinics will provide free or low-cost mental health services, further helping with the cost of living. We have also provided more Medicare bulk-billing by tripling the bulk-billing incentive.


Energy costs are a concern for many people in my community, which is why we supported and delivered a targeted energy rebate of $500 per eligible household. This means thousands of pensioners, families and carers will receive a one-off $500 payment towards their electricity bill. That is real, targeted relief for people's power bills which the coalition voted against. We introduced coal and gas price caps, further easing pressure on energy bills.


We've increased the pay for aged-care workers. On 30 June this year aged-care workers were given a 15 per cent pay rise. For too long aged-care workers have been among the lowest paid workers in our economy, yet they have one of the most important jobs: looking after our elderly and vulnerable. This pay rise doesn't only reward them for the hard work they do; it also helps with the household budget.


It is not just aged-care workers, though. We are getting wages moving again. We have expanded Paid Parental Leave. We have also boosted income support payments. This includes raising the age pension, the veteran service pension, JobSeeker and youth allowance. That means thousands and thousands of people in my region have more money in their pockets for things families can't do without, such as groceries, fuel, energy and much more.


We have increased rent assistance and we have a huge agenda for building more affordable and social rental homes. Our cheaper childcare measures are providing relief on one of the biggest expenses families have, child care. When we launched the cheaper childcare subsidy, I met a local mother, Lisa, who told me that our changes to child care will mean she won't have to choose between being a mum and progressing her career as a healthcare professional on the South Coast. That's fantastic because it makes child care cheaper but also empowers parents to continue to work and support their community. Our fee-free TAFE and skills shortage measures are making a real difference while also providing cost-of-living relief.


We are delivering real relief where it's needed most, targeting the cost-of-living pressures that are hitting our communities the hardest. Australia is not immune to the global factors which are causing inflationary challenges. But people can be reassured that our combination of budget restraint, the first budget surplus in 15 years, getting inflation under control and targeted cost-of-living relief is helping put more money back into people's pockets. Our No. 1 priority is addressing this inflation and cost-of-living challenge. That's why we have a 10-point plan to address the cost-of-living pressures in our economy, and I am working hard every single day to provide the cost-of-living relief our community deserves.