Mr HAMILTON (Groom) (11:50): Deputy Speaker Andrews, what a joy it is to be contributing to this debate under your wise and judicious stewardship. Sadly, it’s a tale of woe I bring because, having listened to the previous two government speakers, I can say Marie Antoinette could not have done it by herself—let them eat cake! Real wages might be going backwards, but let them have nominal wage growth! It’s so out of touch, so condescending and so untethered to even the slightest bound of reality. Real wages have gone backwards. Inflation has outstripped wages growth, which means that when you do see a nominal wage increase you are going backwards because your doll is worth less. The value of your dollar is shrinking faster than your pay is rising. In fact, the only thing shrinking faster than the value of your dollar is this government’s commitment to tackling inflation.
Crowing about nominal wage growth might sound great in here, but out in the real world, out in the working-class suburbs that are walking away from Labor—as the polling shows for this Whitlam-era government—real wage growth is what matters, and real wage growth is going backwards. People of Australia, if you’re wondering why you are being paid more but can afford less—this is why. Real wage growth is going backwards. The cost of everything is going up faster than your wages are. This is because this government have refused to drive down inflation and commit to it. They tried their hardest to lay the blame on the war in Ukraine at the start, but that is no longer the case. They tried to tell us that every economy is in the same boat, but the UK is the only country, amongst modern Western nations, that has higher inflation than us.
Labor have a problem, but the situation didn’t need to be this bad. Over the last 18 months, Labor simply have not done enough to tame inflation—their focus has been elsewhere. Australia, are you worried about how big your grocery bill will be next week? Don’t fret, because this government have an Assistant Minister for the Republic! How’s that for laser-like focus on the big issues? Are you worried about your next energy bill? Don’t fret, because this government just wasted 18 months on a referendum that could not have been more soundly defeated! Are you worried about the latest interest rates rise and what it will lose your mortgage? Don’t fret, because last summer the Treasurer wrote 6,000 words on how he’s going to rewrite capitalism! Australia, inflation is an issue for you because it’s not an issue for Labor.
What have Labor done in government? Let us apply some generosity here. They’ve increased spending by $185 billion. They’ve put on, as we saw over the weekend, another 10,000 public servants just here in Canberra. They’ve introduced productivity-killing pattern-bargaining, despite promising they wouldn’t, and investment-killing price caps on the gas industry. They’ve opened the floodgates to more than half a million more people coming to Australia in the middle of a housing crisis. That’s what they’ve done. What has been the result? Sadly, rents are rising about their highest rates since 2009. As we have heard many times, repayments on a $750,000 mortgage are up by $22,000. Workers are paying 15 per cent more on their income tax, and gas bills are rising and will continue to rise.
Nominal wage growth will not fix these problems, and these problems are important and very relevant because these are the exact promises Labor made to the Australian people to get them into government. Labor promised, ‘We will be doing our bit to assist real wage increases.’ They haven’t done that. They have failed on that. Real wages are going backwards, and they’re going backwards at a shocking rate. Labor promised cheaper mortgages—tell me anyone who has experienced that. Labor promised to cut your electricity bill by $275. That hasn’t happened either. Labor promised lower inflation. This government haven’t kept their promises. Now they are trying to tell us that nominal wage growth is more important than real wage decline. I’m surprised this motion even got through the government’s tactics committee, quite frankly, after the ABC, that great mouthpiece of Labor vitriol and propaganda, could not even bring itself to swallow this sort of nonsense. When the Treasurer tried to claim that the average full-time worker is $3,700 better off per year under Labor, the ABC found that to be misleading. Not even their ABC could support their position. On this point, isn’t it extraordinary that this government, which have been called out by the ABC for misleading the public on an issue so significant and unequivocal as the financial situation of Australian workers, is the government that wants to bring about a bill on misinformation?
I note point 4 on this motion moves that the House ‘acknowledges this is another example of the government working for Australia and delivering on our election commitments to build a better future for Australians’. Once again, how out of touch could you possibly be? In a Resolve poll, just eight per cent of Australians expect the economy to improve in the next 12 months. They don’t think Labor is building a better future. Sixty-four per cent think inflation will worsen. Here’s the good one: 60 per cent of Australians do not think their incomes have kept up with inflation over the past year. Sixty is an interesting number. It’s the same percentage of people who soundly rejected the government’s position on the Voice. Once again, this Labor government is so out of touch with the Australian people, and it could not have more of a hurtful impact at this time.