12 February 2024

Cost of Living Tax Cuts Bill

Ms WELLS (Lilley—Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Sport) (16:50): The guiding principle of the Albanese government is: no-one held back and no-one left behind; to use the power entrusted to us by our constituents to make a positive difference in their lives; and to make the right decisions, not the easy decisions, to create a better, fairer future. And that is exactly what Labor's tax cuts will deliver. Labor's tax cuts are about making sure you can keep more of what you earn by putting cash back into people's pockets when they need it most.

From 1 July this year, every single Lilley taxpayer will receive Labor's tax cut. That's 82,000 people living on the Northside of Brisbane who will receive an average of an extra $1,634 from 1 July. A retail worker working at Westfield Chermside and earning $75,000 a year will get a tax cut of $1,554; a high school teacher in Banyo earning a base salary of $81,000 a year will get a tax cut of $1,704; an enrolled nurse working at an aged-care home in Brighton and earning $61,000 a year will get a tax cut of $1,204; and a lawyer earning $110,000 at Stafford will get a tax cut of $2,429. Importantly, these tax cuts are responsible and will not add to inflation. That's what addressing the cost-of-living concern looks like. Eighty-five per cent of Lilley taxpayers will be better off than they would have been under Morrison's tax cuts which were legislated five years ago, because it is the right and the responsible thing to do to deliver more relief for more Northside workers without adding to inflation.

Since the Prime Minister's announcement that he was pulling this lever, I've been on the ground listening to my constituents about how they feel about the proposed bill, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living Tax Cuts) Bill 2024. Ted came to my mobile office at Stafford City Shopping Centre and told me that Labor's tax cuts were just 'common sense'. Nicholas from Shorncliffe told me that he will be directly impacted by the changes, but he doesn't mind, because it shows that he has a strong government, with strong leadership, who do not mind making the tough decisions. Doug from Wavell Heights said Labor's tax cuts were a rational and pragmatic approach that recognises that, when circumstances and evidence change, decisions may need to change. And Leanne from Chermside West said: 'Times have changed and everyone knows it. The changes you have proposed are more equitable, and the vast majority of Australians will thank you.'

The Albanese government's No. 1 priority remains addressing this inflation and cost-of-living challenge. We know a lot of people are doing it tough. Australians have been living through the economic aftershock of the pandemic, the first recession in three decades and the ongoing, far-reaching consequences of conflict overseas. Unprecedented inflationary pressures across the globe and damaged supply chains have pushed up interest rates at home. Everything we have done as a government has been about managing these compounding pressures and delivering sensible, targeted relief that will not add to inflation: cheaper medicine; making it easier and more affordable to see a GP; cheaper early education; expanding parental leave; building more social and affordable homes; increasing rent assistance; fee-free TAFE; backing a future made in Australia; and supporting stronger wages, because we know that sustainable wage growth is part of the solution to the cost-of-living challenge, not part of the problem. That's what addressing cost-of-living concerns looks like.

The Albanese Labor government have made the biggest-ever investment in Medicare, and Lilley locals are seeing a difference in their health and in their hip pockets. Two months after the bulk-billing incentive was tripled, Lilley locals have accessed almost 3,000 more bulk-billing services, saving household budgets more than $117,000. By the lowering of the patient co-payment for PBS medicines from $42.50 to $30, 143,000 locals have saved more than $1.62 million. That's what addressing cost-of-living concerns looks like. In just three months after changing dispensing rules, more than 12,000 Lilley locals have saved money by accessing 60-day prescriptions. The Northside urgent care clinic is the crown jewel of Lilley now, nestled along Gympie Road between the Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital and the Prince Charles Hospital. Less than 24 hours after our urgent care clinic opened, Kim from Wavell Heights sent me this message:

My daughter needed stitches for a head wound last night and it was going to be an 8 hour wait at the local hospital. My daughter was in and out of the Urgent Care Clinic within an hour of arriving. Such a great initiative, thank you for helping our family.

Kim and her daughter are just two of the hundreds of Lilley locals who have saved time and money by going to our Northside urgent care clinic.

Another cost-of-living pressure leaving holes in the household budgets of Northside families was early education. Over eight years of consecutive coalition governments, early education costs soared by 41 per cent. Many Australians wanted to work more, but it wasn't worth it because their additional pay was being gobbled up by early education fees, and 8,900 families living in my electorate of Lilley have benefited from the Albanese Labor government's cheaper childcare measures. That's what addressing cost of living concerns looks like. The average Australian family has seen a reduction in out-of-pocket expenses by 11 per cent for centre based early education, 8.8 per cent for outside school hours care, 12 per cent for in-home care and 13.8 per cent for family daycare.

These measures are also helping to address the gender pay gap, because this government understands we must ensure more women keep more of their hard-earned money. The Albanese government has applied a clear gender impact lens over our cost-of-living relief. Labor's tax plan will see Australian women taxpayers receive, on average, a tax cut of $1,649 from 1 July. On that date, the Albanese government will deliver a tax cut for all women who pay tax in Australia—a bigger tax cut for 90 per cent of Australian women taxpayers, who will receive an additional $707 on average, compared to the Morrison plan and a boost of 630,000 additional hours per week worked by women. That is what addressing cost-of-living concerns looks like. Our commitment is clear. Last year, the Albanese government also invested $11.3 billion to lift wages for workers in aged care. It's a sector where more than 80 per cent of the staff are women.

Australian taxpayers don't want the coalition's cost-of-living confusion. They want stronger, fairer wages for their hard work. Almost three years ago to the day, I stood in this place on the other side of the chamber, fighting for Lilley workers who were being smashed by nine years of insecure work and low wages. Their aspirations were being smashed by an economy that was built to work against them, not for them. When they reached out for help, they were told, 'It is what it is,' by a coalition government which was phoning it in. I'm here today as a member of the Albanese Labor government, continuing my fight to support the aspirations of Northsiders so that every single Lilley taxpayer can keep more of their hard-earned income, because that's what addressing cost of living concerns looks like.