What I’m hearing
We are being asked to do more with less – finding it harder to make ends meet as prices rise and bills get bigger but wages don’t keep up – and no one seems to care.
We need political leaders to recognise that cost of living is a growing challenge requiring leadership at the federal level in place of the buck-passing we’ve seen between jurisdictions.
Canberra has the highest childcare costs in the country. We are the most expensive city in which to rent. Property prices increased more than 28 per cent in 2021.
The price of petrol has hit record highs, surging above $2 per litre, with the cost of essential groceries also going up (as much as 75% for fresh fruit and vegetables in some cases).
It is time to take addressing cost-of-living challenges out of the too-hard basket and focus on the levers governments can pull to make a real difference in people’s daily lives.
A plan to increase productivity and real wages growth
The Productivity Commission provides extensive advice to the Federal Government on the actions it can take to enhance our welfare as a nation. We need government listening to that advice and enacting key recommendations, including improving the value for money from government spending, upskilling our workforce and implementing energy policy that facilitates the transition to renewables.
The Productivity Commission’s next five yearly Productivity Inquiry report is due to be handed down in 2022. I will push the government to adopt recommendations that enhance productivity and promote real wages growth.
Supporting access to affordable childcare
Canberra has the highest cost of childcare in the country. I will support policies that make childcare more affordable and accessible as a practical way both to improve early learning outcomes and to increase workforce participation.
Using technology to drive down costs
I advocate a stronger focus on innovation and research commercialisation to ensure the government is supporting smart solutions that can deliver tangible benefits to households. This means backing innovative policy approaches and using the government’s borrowing power to make things like rooftop solar and electric vehicles accessible to more households, thereby driving down bills while also acting on climate.
A sustainable safety net for the most vulnerable
I will support programs and policies that maximise workforce participation, provide opportunities for retraining and upskilling, and help Canberrans find meaningful employment. I will also support a sustainable safety net for the most vulnerable in our community so that no one is forced to live in poverty.
Taking housing affordability seriously
Housing costs have skyrocketed, whether you’re renting or buying, and finding anywhere affordable to live is incredibly hard. Vulnerable communities experience much higher housing stress.
Access to housing that is safe and affordable is a human right and a fundamental enabler of full social and economic participation. It is next to impossible to hold down a job, care for your family, undertake training or study without a secure roof over your head.
Australia’s housing crisis has been worsening steadily over the past three decades. Homelessness is on the rise, as is demand for crisis accommodation, and there is an acute shortage of social and community housing. A recent independent report commissioned by the federal government found that Australia is facing a shortfall of more than 600,000 affordable homes in the next two decades.
Housing policy needs to get the balance right by recognising that for many Australians, housing is their main asset, while at the same time making home ownership more accessible.
Housing affordability is too big and too pressing an issue to keep ignoring. We need action led at the federal level to start making inroads into this crisis. Housing is a shared responsibility between federal, state and territory governments, and we need more collaboration across jurisdictions to significantly increase the supply of social and affordable housing.
We need to better incentivise private landlords to contribute to the stock of private-market affordable housing. We also need governments to leverage the tax and planning systems to encourage greater supply of affordable housing for both rent and purchase, particularly for first homebuyers and essential workers. Increasing supply is the primary lever for taking pressure off prices.
Housing is an area of huge potential in policy innovation. I will work with governments to help realise this potential, including advocating for more public-private partnerships in providing affordable housing for Canberrans.
Read the detailed housing affordability plan I took to the 2022 election here