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- Start of Business
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
- Wentworth Electorate
- Electricity Privatisation
- Dunkley Electorate
- National Multicultural Festival
- Aged Care
- Tasmanian Tigers Cricket Team
- Paterson Electorate: MRI Licence
- Greek Community Tribune
- Palm Island
- Redcliffe and District Wildlife Rescue
- Rudd Government
- RUDD GOVERNMENT
- DISSENT FROM RULING
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS
- Organ Donation
- Health Services
- Interest Rates
- Ministerial Accountability
- 75th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Famine
- GRIEVANCE DEBATE
Friday, 22 February 2008
Mr PERRETT (11:40 AM) —I rise in support of the motion before the House, put so eloquently by the member for Lindsay. Inflation is impacting on working families around the nation as those on tight household budgets struggle to find extra money to meet daily cost-of-living pressures. Petrol, groceries, housing prices—the basic costs of living—have been spiralling out of reach of many families for way too long. In the light of this, I welcome the leadership of the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs in establishing the national grocery prices inquiry. The ACCC inquiry will make sure that we are getting a fair deal at the supermarket. The inquiry will investigate all aspects of the supply chain, from the farm gate to the checkout, to see what more can be done to ensure that working families have access to a fair, competitive food market.
Of course, there are many causes for Australia’s current inflationary pressures. The US subprime mortgage crisis and spiralling world oil prices are certainly playing a part. However, at home we face our own challenges. A nationwide skills crisis across many industries is driving up wages and inflation, and this pressure in the labour market is simply not sustainable. The freeze on MPs’ wages sends a strong signal to the private sector that we are serious about controlling wage growth. Yesterday, this was acknowledged in the chamber by the member for Slipper.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr MJ Washer)—Peter Slipper, Fisher.
Mr PERRETT —The member for Fisher. I beg your pardon, Mr Slipper. The neglect of skills and maniacal pursuit of union-busting projects like the Australian Technical Colleges, especially when the real opportunities were waiting in our TAFE colleges and universities, show how the former government dropped the ball when it came to skills. But perhaps the biggest factor in Australia’s current inflationary explosion is the legacy of the previous government. Today’s inflationary pressures are a direct result of the Howard-Costello government’s failure to act on a number of Reserve Bank inflation warnings. How many warnings?
Mr Sullivan —Twenty!
Mr PERRETT —Not one, not two, not three, not 10, not 15, but 20 warnings! The previous government were blind to the needs of working families. The Howard-Costello government just refused to act—six official interest rate rises in the last term of government, and they refused to act. Australians are entitled to feel ripped off. The coalition spent 11½ years masquerading as the masters of economic management, but we now know that to be a complete fraud. While enjoying the spoils of the Hawke-Keating realistic economic reforms—tough reforms—the Howard government failed to address the skills crisis, failed to act on infrastructure for the future and failed to take any meaningful measures to ensure housing affordability. What was their No. 1 economic reform, as mentioned previously by my colleagues? Only one: Work Choices. Now the members opposite treat the Work Choices policy like something they stepped in—they want to get as far away from it as possible. The previous government cared so little about housing affordability that they did not even have a housing minister and contributed very modestly to public housing. Instead, they filled the pockets of private landlords through rent assistance. It was shameful.
The Reserve Bank cash rate now stands at seven per cent. Of course, this means many families are now paying more than nine per cent on their mortgages—and when I say ‘nine per cent’ I am not talking about the Leader of the Opposition’s approval rating! In my electorate, in mortgage belts like Moorooka, Salisbury and Eight Mile Plains, they are really doing it tough. Every rate rise is a kick in the guts for families already struggling to make ends meet. I read in the Sydney Morning Herald today that some families are going without meals and basic health care just to cover skyrocketing rents. That is shameful. That should be contrasted with the economic legacy of John Howard and Peter Costello—I beg your pardon, I should have said ‘the part-time member for Higgins’—who said Australian families have never been better off.
Mr Simpkins —As opposed to ‘part-time Prime Minister’. Where is the Prime Minister?
Mr PERRETT —Actually, where is the member for Higgins? Where is anyone from the other side? We finally have a federal government that cares about working families and is prepared to do the hard yards to fight inflation. One of our first strategies was to turn the tide of reckless government spending. The member for Higgins wanted to keep wearing Corey’s big, yellow sunglasses and keep the party going. The Rudd Labor government is much more reasonable. (Time expired)