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Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Page: 2764

Mr HOCKEY (2:48 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Over the past 12 months, electricity prices have increased by 12.5 per cent, water and sewerage prices have increased by nearly 13 per cent, the cost of hospital and medical services have increased by seven per cent, the cost of child care has risen by 7.2 per cent and the cost of education has increased by nearly six per cent. On top of this, the rise in the standard variable home mortgage rate has increased repayments by over $1,200 per annum on a mortgage of $300,000. When will the Prime Minister find her way and do something to control the cost of living for everyday Australian families?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the shadow Treasurer for his question. As he went through those statistics, what was going through my mind was, ‘Thank goodness we saved Australia from the great big new tax on everything he was planning to support their paid parental leave scheme.’ Thank goodness we saved Australians from that big new tax, which would have flowed through to Woolworths and Coles and put prices up. Thank goodness for that. Thank goodness that, as a government who understands that working families are under real price pressure, we saved those working families from Work Choices mark 2. Your cost of living is defined not just by what you go and buy and pay for but what you are getting in the door.

Mr Simpkins interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for Cowan is warned!

Ms GILLARD —The shadow Treasurer was the prime advocate of Work Choices and the prime defender of the pay cuts and loss of conditions that it imposed on working Australians. Thank goodness we do not face the reintroduction of Work Choices.

We as a government are providing support to families under cost-of-living pressures. We understand that they press on people. For example, we have provided tax cuts for three years in a row to assist working families. We have provided the education tax rebate to assist with the costs of getting kids to school, something that did not exist before this government. We will, as promised, add to it so that it includes school uniforms. We increased the childcare tax rebate from 30 per cent to 50 per cent. Under this government, unlike under the Howard government, families with children in child care can get more assistance with their out-of-pocket costs for child care. We will move through and deliver the additional measures that we have promised. We will move through and deliver the new family tax benefit arrangements for families with teenagers, because we understand that teenagers are not cheaper to look after than children at an earlier age. We are also proud that we were able to deliver a major pension rise for Australians. It is often Australians with fixed incomes who suffer the most when prices rise. So we are taking a series of steps to assist with cost of living.

I would say to the shadow Treasurer, who, I presume, is joining in the fear campaign of the opposition that, if he were being honest, he would be saying to his colleagues that it is in the best interests of this nation for us to be harnessing our strong economy, coming out of the global financial crisis so strong, by getting ready for the challenges of the future. That of course does require us to work through the debate about pricing carbon, it does require us to have the infrastructure of the future, such as the NBN, and it does require us to address human capital reforms, the reform agenda of this government. We will leave the three-word slogans and fearmongering to the other side. Remarkably, the shadow Treasurer has been out in the public domain in the last 24 hours or so, saying that it is difficult to get debates going in Australia about substantive issues and complaining about the media cycle. I can share some of those concerns with the shadow Treasurer and I do hope for a deeper debate in this country, because it will expose to the Australian people just how shallow he is.