Michael Sukkar MP

Federal Member for Deakin
Shadow Minister for Social Services
Shadow Minister for the NDIS
Shadow Minister for Housing
Shadow Minister for Homelessness
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Matter of Public Importance: Cost of Living

It’s very clear—and if there was any doubt before question time there’s no doubt now—that this government’s terrible decisions are driving up the cost of living for Australians. There seems to be a parallel universe because the members of the government, from the Prime Minister down, seem to be telling Australians that they’ve never had it better. They come in here with smiles on their faces, and they’re very self-satisfied, very pleased with themselves—the Prime Minister seems very pleased with himself—which just shows how disconnected the modern Labor Party is from Australians who are doing so terribly tough out there.

For many Australians, it wouldn’t be a surprise that the Prime Minister is so disconnected from what is occurring out there because this is a man, quite frankly, who, between Taylor Swift concerts and Katy Perry concerts at billionaire’s homes, we wouldn’t expect to have the time or bandwidth to focus on what Australians are going through. We heard before the election that the Prime Minister would make life easier for Australians, and the truth, the sad truth, is that, 20 months after the election of the Albanese government, Australians are poorer. There’s no simpler way to put it than that. Australians are now poorer because of the decisions of this government.

You’d think that members opposite, anyone connected to their electorate, would hang their head in shame rather than come in here looking very self-satisfied, as they do, talking about tax cuts that won’t start until 1 July, while there are people now $8,000 a year on average worse off. That doesn’t even account for the millions of Australians with a mortgage. If you’re an Australian with a mortgage, you’re not $8,000 a year worse off; you’re $24,000 a year worse off. Under this government we’ve seen rents increase by 26 per cent. We see first homebuyers at their lowest levels for over a decade. We see new home starts at their lowest levels for over a decade. We see approvals at their lowest levels for over a decade. What that means is, if Australians thought Labor’s housing crisis in 2023 was bad, Labor’s housing crisis in 2024 and 2025 is going to be even worse.

I’ll come back to housing, but, in the time that the Prime Minister has been jetting around feeling very satisfied—there’s no celebrity that can come to Australia without the Prime Minister mobbing them in some way, shape or form. There’s no celebrity that’s safe in this country. There is no celebrity or international pop star that can fly into Australia and fly out without being mobbed by our Prime Minister. In that time, when the Prime Minister said he would reduce energy prices for the average Australian by $275, what’s actually happened? Electricity is up by 20 per cent. Gas is up by 27 per cent. How on earth is every member opposite going to explain to their electorate when people quite rightly ask, ‘Where on earth is my $275 reduction?’ Not only have we not seen reductions, but we’ve seen increases.

I think the disconnect between the government and what Australians are facing is the most concerning thing here because Australians’ faith in this place has got worse since this government has been in power. You can understand why, when they look at members opposite walking into question time every day and basically telling Australians, ‘You’ve never had it better,’ and ‘That the government deserves a pat on the back,’ that they would feel as though they’re being gaslit. Most Australians would think, ‘What parallel universe do these people live in?’

Then we see a policy from this government to smash the vast majority of Australians who purchase new cars in this country with their new tax on family cars. Who on earth would think in this economic environment that of all the priorities, ‘What do Australians need desperately?’ they need a new tax on family cars. And it’s a new tax on the most popular family cars in this country. I’m sure the Prime Minister really wasn’t planning on finishing question time talking about their new tax on family cars, but it’s pretty clear that the Prime Minister needed to mop up after the member for McMahon. I’m sure he didn’t want to be doing that, but what he didn’t do in that answer was tell Australians and level with Australians on the costs that Labor’s tax on family cars will impose.

Here we’ve got what I think are very conservative and very generous estimates to the government of what the impact of their tax on family cars will be. They include an additional $11,020 for a Toyota RAV4, a $12,180 increase for an MG ZS, a $25,000 increase for a Toyota LandCruiser, a $17,950 increase for one of the most popular new cars in this country—a Ford Ranger, a $14,490 increase for a Toyota HiLux and a $13,830 increase—a tax on Australian families—for an Isuzu D-Max. What does it say about the priorities of this government that at this time—when the average household is $8,000 a year worse off, when the average household with a mortgage is $24,000 a year worse off, when they’ve seen an increase in their rent of 26 per cent, an increase in their food of 10 per cent, an increase on their electricity of 20 per cent and an increases on their gas of 27 per cent—that the solution to those problems is yet another tax on the family car?

In the list of twisted priorities in my time in this place, I’m yet to see something as extraordinary as this. A housing crisis that is unprecedented in this country, a hapless housing minister with no idea and no plan, sitting in her office with absolutely no clue of what to do. So what pitiful thing does the government bring to this chamber? They bring their Help to Buy scheme or, as it’s more colloquially known in the community, ‘the forced to sell scheme’. A shared equity scheme from this government that I suspect many people would question at its face: who really wants to co-own a home with this Prime Minister and this housing minister?

Putting that aside for one moment, which genius could come up with an idea to create 10,000 shared equity places when there are already schemes throughout the country that are not being used because nobody wants these products? In fact, in New South Wales you might ask, ‘How many places are left out of their scheme?’ For the New South Wales shared equity scheme, on which the government’s Help to Buy scheme is based, how many places are left? Is it 10 per cent of places left? Is it 15 per cent or 20 per cent? No, that would be far too generous to this government. There are 94 per cent of places left. Si I imagine there are thousands of these products available. Australians do not want them, for a range of reasons, including that if your income goes above a certain level you can be forced to sell your home. So you come home really happy and excited to tell your partner and family you have had a pay rise, but, if that pay rise takes you above the income threshold, the government can sell the house from underneath you. No wonder there are 94 per cent of these places left in the New South Wales scheme and places left in the Victorian scheme, the South Australian scheme and the Western Australian scheme. Why on earth would that be a priority for this government? It just shows that they do not understand the pressures and cost-of-living crisis faced by Australians.

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