Matters of Public Importance – Cost of Living, Monday November 27, 2023

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (17:22): The days of blaming the war in Ukraine for inflation are over, or at least they should be. While I’ll admit that the war in Ukraine has had some ripple effects, it was never true that overseas events were the major cause of this Labor government’s economic woes. In fact, our government is the main architect of our nation’s problems. Those on my left, on that side of the chamber, shouldn’t take all the blame. The Libs had a part in that as well; we all know that. But the Labor government is in charge now, and they should be doing more.

The government spends taxpayer money like it’s endless, like it’s free and like the debt never needs to be repaid. Well, guess what? It has to be repaid with interest. Australia’s inflation problem is homegrown. Much of the problem is created right here in our nation’s capital, in Canberra. Since the government clearly doesn’t have a plan, allow me to make some simple suggestions that would immediately help to ease inflationary pressure. The government could begin by doing this: abandon net zero. It is a fetish—that’s what it is—that has resulted in record high power prices. This one policy decision would immediately lower prices right across the economy. Here’s another idea: slash the migration intake. Record immigration is making our housing crisis worse, increasing prices and increasing homelessness. It’s pretty basic.

I understand that net zero is an ideological tick that the government cannot shake, and it’s also a way to fudge the books and make the numbers look better. So I’ll make a third suggestion: why doesn’t Treasurer Chalmers cut taxes, reduce levies and cut duties? He could start by cutting the fuel excise. How about that one? If you cut the transportation costs you immediately provide price relief on almost everything. We all know that; it is pretty simple stuff. I know what you are thinking—since when does a Labor government let its citizens keep more of their money? Since when?

I will make one more suggestion. If the government wants to get inflation under control, it should ruthlessly cut red, green and black tape while deregulating as much of the economy as possible. If it did that, productivity and competition would improve, and inflationary pressures would ease for the long-term. In three minutes or so, I have four points to address inflation, which is more than what Treasurer Chalmers has done in 18 months, as far as I can tell. But I am guessing the government will not take up any of my suggestions, not because it hasn’t thought of them—of course it has—but because this government is more committed to climate ideology, to taxation, to bureaucracy and to mass immigration, rather than being committed to helping struggling Australian families.