After watching a recent Q&A television program, it appears that the government has yet to provide a concrete solution to Australia’s skyrocketing living costs. On February 13th, politicians from the Labor, Liberal, and Greens parties discussed inflation and interest rates with community members. An audience member asked the panel where they could find help with the current high inflation situation in Australia.
Minister for Early Childhood Education and Youth, Anne Aly, acknowledged how severely soaring living costs were impacting Australians. She said there was hope as Treasurer Jim Chalmers believed inflation had reached its peak. Aly also mentioned the government was providing cost-of-living relief, such as cheaper childcare, repairing the economy and the budget, and invigorating the manufacturing sector to create more jobs.
Greens Senator Dorinda Cox suggested some measures that could be implemented to provide relief to Australians right now, such as making changes to the stage-three tax cuts, introducing housing rent freezes, and raising income support above the poverty line. However, Aly said the stage-three tax cuts were a few years away and that the government was putting in place some “real relief”. She said the government needed to make sure that those measures would not add more to inflation.
The panel and community members shared stories about how inflation and rising interest rates were making life harder for Australian households. Aly told the audience that she witnessed a man in her well-off local area struggling to buy a loaf of bread and Liberal MP Keith Wolahan said he saw mums begging for food with kids in the car. Meanwhile, audience member Amy Yet Foy said she and her husband had to face an additional mortgage repayment of $500 per week due to higher interest rates.
After listening to stories from the community, Aly said she knew that nothing she said would ease the pressure off people who were struggling. She noted she felt the pain that people were feeling in both her electorate and across the country, as she used to be in a similar situation. Regarding the interest rate hikes implemented by the Reserve Bank of Australia, the minister said the central bank made the decision independently and that the government had no control over the matter.
Liberal MP Keith Wolahan mentioned monetary policy was one lever to curb inflation and that it was a necessary one, though it was blunt and hurt people. He also said fiscal policy was about reducing spending and that both Labor and Liberals needed to reduce spending in government.