Speech: Matter of Public Important - Cost of living

Speech: Matter of Public Important - Cost of living Main Image

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (16:02):  Deputy Speaker Claydon, congratulations on your election to the role. I have to say I find the opposition's attempts to rewrite history highly amusing. It's almost like they think the Australian people have forgotten that they were in government for almost a decade. It's like they think that our communities will believe that the cost of food, the cost of petrol and the cost of electricity have only just gone up—that Australians will believe that their wages have only just stopped growing in the last few months. It's quite shocking, really—this tale they are trying to spin that they think we will buy.

Well, I can tell those opposite that my community on the New South Wales South Coast is not buying it. We have faced years of drought, bushfires and countless disaster declared floods, all while those opposite did nothing to address our changing climate. We have faced years of high unemployment and low wages, all while the Liberal Party ripped money from TAFE and slashed penalty rates for casual workers. The South Coast has been experiencing a worsening housing crisis for years. I have stood here in the parliament so many times to beg the then government, the Liberal government, to take serious and urgent action. My office has been inundated every day for months and months with heart-wrenching stories of local families who cannot find a home, who cannot afford their rent and who will end up sleeping in their cars: single mothers with their kids, pensioners, young people—you name it and they are struggling. But those on that side of the House did nothing. We've had rising health costs and a GP shortage impacting every corner of the South Coast, but there was no help there either.

When small businesses in Kangaroo Valley were calling for help after yet another flood in March this year saw their access roads cut, I wrote to the then minister, asking for support for small businesses. I told the Minister for Disasters and Emergency Management that our local small businesses were on the brink because their customers couldn't get to them. As these businesses were not directly flood impacted, there was no support. With access roads cut completely, they may not have been flooded, but their businesses were certainly going under. I asked the Minister to help, to see the need for a specialised package of support, targeted directly to the small businesses of Kangaroo Valley. The Minister even visited the South Coast for a media stunt with my Liberal opponent, but she completely ignored Kangaroo Valley. Our requests fell on the deaf ears of a government that didn't care to listen. They did nothing. That, sadly, is the legacy of the Liberal-National government of a decade—nothing. No real action, no real solutions, just photo-ops. So I'm sorry, but my community on the South Coast is not buying this tale you are trying to tell.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that you can't fix nine years of neglect in nine weeks. But we have sure proven that we are up to the task. Incredibly soon after the election, the Albanese Government managed to secure a critical rise in the minimum wage. It was a top priority, and we got it done with lightning speed. The very first piece of legislation introduced under the Albanese Labor Government has addressed the urgent skills crisis in our country. Jobs and Skills Australia is a game changer that will build the job opportunities we need for the future. It will address the issues in the skills and training sector and will create more secure employment opportunities. We've announced the Jobs and Skills Summit, to look more broadly at moving our economy forward.

After the floods our community was hit with once again, in June, support started flowing through to individuals, businesses and primary producers, more quickly and more effectively than we had seen before. This week, we have introduced legislation to tackle climate change, and we are working with the energy sector to rein in prices. Cost-of-living support will also be provided to older Australians, with a lift in the income threshold for access to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card—a very significant change for people in my electorate. People with diabetes will also celebrate, because we've made continuous glucose monitoring more affordable—another huge issue for people in Gilmore. Medicine costs are coming down, and childcare costs won't be far behind. You can't change nine years of poor policies in nine weeks, but we have proven you can make a red-hot start.