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Double inflation spike slugs low income Australians.

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Wayne Swan - Double Inflation Spike Slugs Low Income Australians Friday, 27 April 2001

Double Inflation Spike Slugs Low Income Australians Wayne Swan - Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services

Media Statement - 24 April 2001

The latest Consumer Price Index released today shows the Howard Government's high inflation policies punishing low income Australians with a double-barrelled price slug.

Last year's GST compensation now looks hopelessly inadequate - and half of it has already been clawed back from pensioners.

John Howard promised Australians that the GST inflation spike was a one-off. Having delivered 6.1% annual inflation in September 2000, he has brought it back to 6.0% this quarter.

Yet again, the Howard Government's inflation burden has fallen most heavily on items consumed by low-income Australians.

Leading the list of fresh price increases is the 9.3% increase in pharmaceuticals over the last quarter -partly due to the initial inflationary spike of the GST flowing through to the indexation of pharmaceutical co-payments from January 1.

Food has increased by 6.6% over the last twelve months. The increase comes despite the Government's claims that food prices would actually fall under the GST. While some of the food increase is due to seasonal factors, the Treasurer and others repeatedly ignore that approximately one-third of a household's weekly food budget attracts the GST.

These price increases come on top of the price hikes that flowed through immediately after the GST, including:

10.9% increase in electricity; ● 12.5% increase in gas; ● 8.0% increase in telephone bills; and ● 5% increase in property rates and charges. ●

And since the GST started appearing on insurance bills from August 1999, the cost has increased by a massive 35.8% according to the ABS.

Taxis and public transport are now 11% more expensive than they were before the GST. And for those who smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol the price hikes have been in the order of 10.4%.

There can be little doubt the aged and families are suffering a massive squeeze on their living standards with price hikes impacting massively on their budgets.

With these massive increases on daily expenses, few low-income Australians will share the Howard Government's joy at GST price falls on jewellery, wheelbarrows, clocks, and wide-screen TVs.

Only a Government terminally out of touch with everyday Australians could claim that a double price spike is a one-off; and price rises of 10% and more don't matter. Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.

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