Mr HAMILTON (Groom) (16:14): What a joy it is to be here speaking on this MPI, following my good friend the member for Hawke, although I can’t help but take up some of his issues. I think there’s a certain joy to this. Let’s start with him criticising the shadow Treasurer for being across details. I’m old enough to remember when Mr Albanese stumbled on the cash rate. What was that—day one or day two of the campaign? I can remember when he had to ask the Treasurer what the fuel excise rate was. That was a slightly embarrassing one on details. I also think the point on wages is a tough one. I’ll come back to this, but when real wages are falling, and falling very hard, I find that a very difficult position to take.
I also want to raise this, because I think this is important: watch just how quickly Labor are running away from Qantas. They were very happy to stand close to Qantas when they wanted their support during the Voice campaign, and very happy to support them during the issue on the slot allocations in Sydney. Now they want to run away from Qantas. I’m sorry; I’m going to call those things out as they’re raised.
Australians are in to for a very tough Christmas because, as this MPI very clearly points out, the kinds of living standards that we are experiencing in Australia are being felt right across the board. People are having to make some very tough choices. For some, it’s: do they take a holiday this year? For some, it’s: do they get that extra gift? For some, it’s: what food are they able to put on the table? Sadly, this situation doesn’t get better on the other side of Christmas. Things are not looking good, whether it be fuel, groceries, mortgages, rent, electricity or gas. All of these things, unfortunately, look like they’re going to continue to go up. We had the RBA governor taking the extraordinary position, just last week, that inflation looks more likely now to remain ‘higher for longer’. Things are getting worse. For those backbenchers here today, I think I can offer you a little vision into the future, because there’s going to be a question asked at the next election: are you better off today than you were when Labor came to government? And I think that’s going to hurt.
Ms Doyle: Cheaper child care!
Mr HAMILTON: You want to talk about cheaper child care? Absolutely! Let’s go through a few of the other promises that have been made that haven’t come about, for all of those things that I’ve talked about: fuel, groceries, mortgages, rent, electricity and gas. When Labor were coming into government, they promised that all of these things would go down and they haven’t. All of those promises have been broken. Are you better off today than you were when Labor came into government? That question will come back to haunt each and every one of them, and the silence across there indicates that. There were, of course, challenges. There were challenges across the world, and we were part of that—
Mr Perrett: You certainly were!
Mr HAMILTON: Absolutely; every country was! But here’s the question: why have other countries been able to face up to those challenges and manage them better than Australia? That’s the important question. Inflation in Australia is higher than in almost every other advanced economy. Those opposite have had two budgets and Australia has suffered the largest fall in living standards of any advanced economy. This is an important point, because other countries have focused on the challenge. Other countries have committed to the promises that they made of addressing inflation and making it their No. 1 focus. What’s the difference between Australia and these other countries? A lot of them didn’t waste 18 months focusing on a Voice referendum that no-one wanted. A lot of those countries didn’t try to take their countries down a path of division when they were warned against that, when the issue confronting every household was the cost of living.
Are you better off today than you were when Labor came into government? This will come back time and time again, because—this is the message to Australians—inflation is an issue for you because it wasn’t an issue for this government. They’ve been focused on other things; they’ve been focused on the Voice for 18 months, when there were many things that could have been done. I can remember—it was the first meeting with the RBA governor during this term of government—the pleading that monetary and fiscal policy continue to work together as they had under the previous government. We’ve got to remember that every dollar the government adds to the economy is another dollar that the RBA has to take out with interest rate rises. This is why we’re seeing interest rate rises continue and why inflation will continue: because the government continues on its path of spending $185 billion extra. We are now spending more than we were pre pandemic. This is an incredible response from a government at a time of cost-of-living pressures. I’ve said it many times, and I think everyone here is going to hear this again and again and again: are you better off today than you were when Labor came to government? The answer is a resounding no. Australia knows it, and I’m sure every backbencher here knows it too.