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Senate speech on cost of living motion

Speeches in Parliament
Penny Allman-Payne 6 Sep 2022

Australians are facing a cost-of-living crisis. People are being smashed on all fronts: rising rents and mortgage repayments, rising food prices, rising education costs, rising health costs. Neither the Labor Party nor the Liberals and Nationals are interested in turning the tide around. In fact, they're actively committed to making it worse by refusing to invest in vital services, by refusing to lift income support payments and by backing in $243 billion of tax cuts for the super wealthy. Of the $243.5 billion of Labor's stage 3 tax cuts, $188 billion, or 77 per cent, of the benefit will go to the wealthiest 20 per cent of the population. Even worse, you're giving the richest one per cent as much as you are giving the bottom 65 per cent.

The commitment to raw, unadulterated neoliberalism should bring shame to all of those on the Labor benches. Labor's stage 3 tax cuts for the super-rich will turbo charge inequality in this country and effectively destroy our progressive taxation system. At a time when the share of national income going to profit is at an all-time high and the share of national income that is going to workers' wages is at an all-time low, this is both economically and morally indefensible—and you know it! You know full well that this is an indefensible policy, which is why you try to blame it on the Libs. But you know what? When you vote for it, you own it.

We must do more to deliver cost-of-living relief to people. The Greens have proposed numerous policies that would meaningfully help people to live better lives. We've talked about freezing rent for two years and then capping rent hikes to two per cent every two years. It has been done in Victoria, British Columbia, New York and Germany. Let's do that here, too. We've talked about making public education truly free, with no fees: no public school fees, free university and TAFE, and free meals for schoolkids. That will help people with cost-of-living relief. We've talked about reforming tax loopholes, reforming the petroleum resource rent tax, introducing a windfall profit tax and closing existing loopholes that let big corporations and billionaires not pay their fair share.

We've talked about free child care. Child care is a huge portion of the household budget for many families. Free child care means an ease in the cost-of-living pressures for families. It would cost around $9 billion per year, much less than the stage 3 tax cuts, to give free child care to all families. We've talked about pausing the interest rate hikes at least until the October budget. Interest rate rises are hurting both renters and new homeowners, and they are doing nothing to address supply side inflation. Labor's stage 3 tax cuts will turbocharge inequality. We need cost-of-living relief now, not more tax cuts for the wealthy.

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