07 June 2023

Cost of living relief a priority for Federal Labor


This opinion piece appeared in The Advocate, 7 June 2023


I’m proud to be part of a Federal Labor Government that is supporting Tasmanians with cost-of-living relief right now - while also planning for the future and laying the right foundations for our economy and country.

How a government decides to direct its resources, what it sees as its priorities, and whether it keeps faith with its commitments, tells you a lot about who is running the country.

When Treasurer Jim Chalmers recently delivered the Federal Budget, he sent a clear message that the Albanese Labor Government is delivering the change that Australians voted for.

Labor’s Federal Budget makes important choices. It chooses a fairer society and a stronger economy.  It chooses to focus on taking the pressure off households and families.

Federal Labor is cutting the cost of health care and medicines, helping with power bills, making childcare cheaper and increasing income support payments.

It is unacceptable that the cost of seeing a doctor is out of reach for too many people, which is why the Government has delivered the largest ever increase to Medicare bulk-billing incentives.

This will help GPs provide free consultations to around 11.6 million eligible Australians –including kids under 16, pensioners and other concession card holders – as well as self-funded retirees who qualify for the Seniors Health Care Card.

In Braddon, around 60 000 people will have better access to a doctor, with no out-of-pocket costs.

Medicare Urgent Care Clinics are another way the Federal Labor Government is providing better, more affordable services.

The Clinics will see walk-in patients at short notice and provide bulk-billed services over extended opening hours, 7 days a week, for people who need to see a health professional with an urgent, but not life-threatening problem. Instead of spending hours in an emergency department, patients will be able to visit the Clinic, and be seen by highly trained doctors and nurses, get X-rays or blood tests.

The Clinic that will open in Devonport later this year will take pressure off the Mersey Hospital Emergency Department so that it can focus on critical care.

And from September this year, patients will be able to get more of the medicine they need for less money and less hassle.

Instead of going to the chemist every month, many people with common, chronic illnesses will be able to get 2 months’ worth of treatment for over 300 different medicines.

This change will save people up to $180 a year.

I know the stress that many households face when their quarterly power bill arrives.

The Albanese Government’s Energy Price Relief Plan means thousands of households in Braddon will have up to $500 deducted from their power bills in the next financial year.

And eligible small businesses, many of which are family owned, will have their bills reduced by up to $650. This power bill relief is jointly funded by the Tasmanian Government – because Federal Labor is determined to work well with other levels of government if it means delivering better outcomes.

Labor's Cheaper Child Care will help ease pressures on families and make it easier for parents to return to paid work, or work more paid hours, if they want to.

96% of families with kids in childcare will be better off from 1 July this year.

And income support safety nets are being extended so that help is there for all Australians when they need it.

The base rate of JobSeeker, Austudy, Youth Allowance and other working-age income support payments will be increased by $40 per fortnight, helping around 6000 people in Braddon.

A growing and productive economy is the best long‑term guarantee of rising living standards, stronger wages growth and a better quality of life.

It’s clear that inflation remains the primary economic challenge because it drives interest rate rises, increases prices, and erodes real wages.

That’s why the Budget is laying the foundations for growth by investing in industry, skills, technology and people.

Australia’s biggest opportunity for growth and prosperity is the global shift to clean energy.

The Budget allocates $4 billion to deliver Australia’s future as a renewable energy superpower, bringing the Federal Government’s total investment to more than $40 billion.

This is a great opportunity for Tasmania.  Our state is a leader in renewable energy innovation and generation. More Federal investment means good, well-paid jobs for Tasmanians and a long-term boost to our economy. 

To support these jobs and opportunities, $3.7 billion is being invested in a revamped 5‑year national skills agreement with the states and territories. And 300,000 fee‑free TAFE places have been created to train Australians in critical and emerging sectors.

Labor’s Skills Guarantee will make sure that one in 10 workers on Australian Government funded major projects is an apprentice, trainee or paid cadet. It will also encourage more women into apprenticeships.

And after years of growing debt and deficits Budget is being strengthened – with a surplus forecast for this year.

Anthony Albanese recently marked one year since his election as Prime Minister.  He came into the job with a promise to roll up his sleeves and do the hard work needed to get things done.  You have his commitment, and mine – that we will work hard every day to Build a Better Braddon.