Mr TUDGE (Aston) (10.00 pm)—As I travel around my electorate, one of the issues that increasingly gets raised is the soaring cost of living. The basic costs of everyday, non-discretionary goods like water, electricity, child care and groceries are all going up. And people are hurting. I hear this said at the retirement villages, at school fetes and at shops on the weekends. I hear it when constituents come to see me in my office. I hear it at the churches and hear about it from school leaders.
The difficulties that Aston residents are expressing to me are backed up by the official statistics. A couple of weeks ago, the ABS released the latest inflation figures. Over the last year, electricity prices have gone up 12.4 per cent—that is in one year; water and sewage have gone up 12.8 per cent; gas has gone up 9.8 per cent; childcare has gone up 7.2 per cent; and medical costs have gone up 7.2 per cent. These are hefty increases for Aston residents and other Australians to meet. Since Labor was elected in November 2007, water has gone up 46 per cent, electricity prices have gone up 42 per cent, gas has gone up 29 per cent and medical costs have gone up 20 per cent.
All of this has occurred since the election of the Labor government after they went to the people claiming that cost of living was the biggest issue for Australians. They went to the election promising to address cost-of-living pressures. But, instead of addressing cost-of-living pressures, the government has, alarmingly, made things worse and is planning on putting even more taxes on residents that will make things harder. They have cut back on childcare rebates.
They have cut back on the private health insurance rebates. They have caused banking competition to be less. Most importantly, they have borrowed tens of billions of dollars, which puts upward pressure on inflation and interest rates. And they are still borrowing $100 million per day.
That is not all. The worst is yet to come. As people would be aware, the government is working with the Greens on introducing a carbon price in the form of a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme. Their own expert adviser on their climate change committee, Mr Rod Sims, has suggested that their carbon price will increase wholesale electricity prices by 60 per cent and retail electricity prices by 25 per cent. And this is on top of the 42 per cent increase that we have seen already since 2007.
Last week I sat in the small apartment of a constituent of mine in Waterford Park Retirement Village who spoke of the measures that he and his wife take to reduce their electricity bills. They have had the electrician in to adjust the lights so that only two lights come on when they switch the light switch rather than four lights. They have had solar installed. They switch off everything wherever possible in order to reduce their electricity consumption. Price hikes on essential items like electricity are hurting Aston residents, as they are hurting people across the country. The concept of an extra 25 per cent increase on the electricity price through a carbon tax, for no demonstrable benefit, is simply unacceptable.
I am concerned about Labor’s plans for the Murray- Darling, which will increase food and grocery prices. I am concerned about their mining tax, which will have a flow-on impact to every product that uses those materials, including electricity generation. The National Broadband Network will push up basic telephony charges, according to Optus. And the Prime Minister today in question time gave no guarantee that prices would not go up. And they are still considering a road congestion tax.
It is time that the government made some tough decisions. They need to stop borrowing $100 million per day, to drop their taxes and to do the hard work to reduce cost-of-living pressures. My constituents in Aston demand it. And so do families across Australia.