DAILY expenses for many local families have skyrocketed in recent years.
With many incomes not increasing at the same rate, families are under increasing pressure to maintain childcare, petrol, housing, electricity, health and transport costs.
University of Western Sydney senior lecturer and author David Burchell says focusing on maintaining a strong economy should be at the very forefront of government policy.
"The slow in economic growth because of the waning of the resources boom affects everyone — Sydney and western Sydney are exposed to the ups and downs of the global economy," Dr Burchell said.
"The cost of living isn't something either party can solve immediately as it has so many elements to it."
But, he said health, education and transport should be policy priorities to ease that pressure.
"These are traditionally state government responsibilities but increasingly, especially recently, we're seeing the federal government involved in these areas," he said.
Asked how their party’s policy would assist local residents with the cost of living pressures, Mitchell candidates said the following:
■ ALEX HAWKE, LIBERAL:
The Coalition believes in rewarding Australians for their hard work, not penalising them as Labor has done over the past six years. Families have faced a 93.8per cent increase in the cost of electricity nationally, a 79.2per cent increase in utilities and a 63.1per cent increase in the cost of water and sewerage. These cost of living increases greatly concern me because of the significant impact they have had on our community. The Coalition will reduce cost of living pressures by abolishing the carbon tax while still delivering income tax cuts to reward all Australians making a contribution to our nation. Only the Coalition will reduce the cost of living for families across Mitchell by scrapping the carbon tax. Under the Coalition’s plans, average families will be better off by more than $550 a year in 2014-15, rising to around $900 a year in 2019-20.
■ ANDREW PUNCH, LABOR:
Labor’s accelerated move to an emissions trading scheme will save the average family $380. We will: boost the childcare rebate to 50per cent – to $7500 a child a year – and provide $450million towards more flexible opening hours and more places in out-of-school-hours care; make the Schoolkids Bonus $410 for each primary and $820 for each secondary child on Family Tax Benefit A, lifting the tax-free threshold to $18,200 [and] resulting in a tax cut for every worker earning up to $80,000 a year. Record-low interest rates mean a family with a $300,000 mortgage is now paying around $6000 less a year, and we offer the largest pension increases delivered by any government. A total of 800,000 jobs have been created by Labor. The practical policies implemented by the Labor government represent real assistance to help families cope with cost of living pressures.
■ DARRYL ALLEN, CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY: We plan to slash power bills by exposing the lies and corruption associated with climate change scare-mongering and demand. We want no carbon tax, no emissions trading scheme and to support direct action on environmental issues. See: conscious.com.au. Promises, promises – don’t believe the lies. The major parties are baiting us with handouts, only to rip us off with more taxes and higher costs for goods and services. We will expose the waste and corruption in the illegal immigration industry and challenge the hypocrisy of United Nations Human Rights. Australian generosity is being grossly abused and betrayed when you consider our abandonment of legitimate refugees and the urgent needs of disadvantaged Australians. Are Australians paying a hidden cost for Halal certification on consumer goods and services? See: halalchoices.com.au.
■ MURRAY SCHULTZ, PALMER UNITED PARTY: Palmer United Party will wipe the carbon tax. We will refund the money back to the people that have paid it (the public). PUP also announced an increase to the pension for the people that are under tremendous pressure. It is widespread across the media that you can’t tax a country to prosperity. PUP believes in creating wealth within communities by growing the pie, creating jobs, reducing unemployment and circulating wealth back into the community where it originates. From a personal view, we need to be very aware of the nation’s horrible debt by building tremendous wealth to pay for it. As a nation we simply can’t have bad governments spending our money recklessly. Remove this government for less pressure on living costs.
■ MICHAEL BELLSTEDT, THE GREENS: The Greens have a range of policies that will ease the cost of living pressures on the residents of Mitchell. Our long-term solutions will leave a cleaner, sustainable and more compassionate world for future generations. We will provide financial incentives and loans for energy efficiency in the home and business to reduce power bills. The mining tax on super profits will be strengthened to ensure that Medicare, Denticare (Medicare-funded dentists) and mental health are well funded. We will increase funding for basic health promotion and disease prevention reducing the overall costs of health care. We will prioritise public transport funding to reduce the reliance on expensive car travel and toll roads, whilst reducing pollution and carbon emissions. For those less fortunate, we will raise the Newstart and youth allowance by $50 per week and the single parent allowance by $90 per week. We stand up for what matters.
■ NATHANIEL DODD, DEMOCRATIC LABOUR PARTY: As a father of four young children, I am acutely aware of the crisis surrounding the cost of living for Mitchell residents, particularly those paying a hefty mortgage. The Democratic Labour Party proposes the following to ease financial strain: abolish the carbon tax and renewable energy targets; universal, generous and equal paid parental leave; assist small business by limiting terms of trade to 30 days and offering tax deferral and government-funded super for employees of small businesses starting out in order to give them a chance to get off their feet; increase housing affordability by discouraging foreign ownership of residential property. This will be enacted by implementing a purchase tax of 17.5 per cent and a profit on sale tax of 50 per cent for foreign investors; and allow first home owners to access their super to cover 5 per cent of the cost of their mortgage.
Asked how their party’s policy would assist local residents with the cost of living pressures, Berowra candidates said the following:
■ PHILIP RUDDOCK, LIBERAL: One of the key issues that local residents raise with me is the cost of living. The bills keep coming in, and going up, and incomes don’t seem to match. That’s why I think the Coalition’s plan to abolish the carbon tax is so important. The carbon tax hits everyone. When you buy a coffee, pick up your dry cleaning, or go to the shops. At each step along the way the carbon tax has added a little bit to the price. The tax is only set to increase as time goes on. Between mid-2014 and mid-2019 the carbon tax will increase by six times, reaching $38 a tonne by 2019 and increasing to $350 a tonne over time. The Coalition will abolish the carbon tax, leaving Hills families more than $550 better off next year alone, and $3000 better off over the next six years under the Coalition.
■ MICHAEL STOVE, LABOR: Due to changes to Australia’s taxation arrangements a typical Berowra family is now paying at least $3500 less a year in personal tax than when Labor came to office in 2007. Labor has increased Family Tax Benefit part A and B payments, and each year a typical family will receive more than $280 to help with its cost of living bills. Labor places no cap on the number of approved childcare services that can be established and, to improve the availability of childcare, offers financial assistance for all places which become available where a business decides to set up a childcare centre. Labor has increased the childcare rebate from 30 to 50 per cent of out-of-pocket costs to help reduce childcare costs for families. New mothers can get up to 18 weeks’ pay at the national minimum wage under Labor’s paid parental leave scheme.
■ JOHN STOREY, GREENS
An important stress is from higher retail electricity prices, caused largely by excessive expenditure on infrastructure by privatised electricity providers. One million Australian homes are already reducing their bills using domestic solar panels. The Greens will ensure a fair price for electricity generated by households. We will invest $30 billion in new renewable energy projects; projects that will triple the jobs currently provided by coal-fired installations.
We care for the most vulnerable. With essential Greens support, the tax-free income threshold was raised to $18,000. We will also increase Newstart by $50/week, and provide an extra $40/week for single parents. Greens value quality health care for every Australian. That is why we introduced Denticare, and will resist attempts to dismantle Medicare.
I will advocate for safe, accessible and reliable public transport, as an essential ingredient for a liveable community. Households should not be forced into the expense of running multiple cars.
■ PAUL GRAVES, PALMER UNITED PARTY
The Palmer United Party candidate for the Federal seat of Berowra, Paul Graves, is a Hills resident with two teenage sons and is subject to the same cost of living pressures being faced by the Berowra electorate. He said the following PUP policies would address these pressures.
• The Carbon Tax will be abolished, and unlike the Liberal Party, refunded to those that paid it, lowering costs of many products and services, especially electricity prices
• The aged pension would be increased by $150 per fortnight for singles and $221 for couples – this 20 per cent increase will redress the neglect our senior citizens have endured from successive governments
• Veterans affairs pensions would receive a $640 million boost and indexation would be brought in line with civilian aged pensions
PUP is committed to providing an alternative government, free from the lobby groups that have manipulated the major parties for too long.
■ LEIGHTON THEW, CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY
If elected, I would pursue the following initiatives to assist in reducing the cost of living pressures on the family.
• Repeal the carbon tax and withdraw from the carbon trading scheme.
• Minimise disincentives for harder work, risk-taking and wealth creation.
• Payment of “home-maker” allowance for one-income families with young children.
• Allow income splitting for household members related by marriage.
• Introduce a competition policy which restricts any business to a maximum of 20 per cent of market share to minimise price fixing and protect small businesses.
• Support ‘work for the dole’ programs.
• Use our finite natural resources responsibly to reduce waste and pollution, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and develop renewable energy wherever practical and economically viable.
• Ensure government procurement policies that favour Australian products and services.
• Support small businesses as very important to the fabric to Australian society.
■ DEBORAH SMYTHE, STABLE POPULATION PARTY
Population growth is a key driver of cost of living pressures, putting upward pressure on housing, energy, water and transport prices.
Housing becomes more costly as more people compete for land, a finite resource.
More people means a bigger energy network, incorporating more transmission and distribution costs to cater for increased peak demand.
Desalination plants are being built to increase water supply for an expanding population. These plants are very costly and that cost is being passed onto consumers.
A similar story is happening with transport infrastructure, with public transport and roads having to be extended. This is extremely expensive and again, the consumer pays.
By achieving a stable population of 23 to 26 million through our two-pronged approach of limiting government birth payments to a woman’s first two children and adopting a balanced migration program — where permanent immigration is equivalent to permanent emigration — cost of living pressures will be curtailed.