The Importance of Reducing Cost of Living Pressures For All Canberrans
Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am grateful to Mr Wall for bringing this very important matter of public importance before the Assembly today. Far too many families and households in the Ginninderra Electorate are worried about Canberra’s soaring cost of living, often deeply so. As we all know, cost-of-living increases disproportionately affect lower-income households, and on average, those living in my electorate have the territory’s lowest incomes.
Belconnen households, in fact, take home nearly $200 less per week than the territory average, but they are paying only $13 less per week to service their mortgages and only $20 less per week on rent. What that means, Madam Speaker, is that people in the Ginninderra Electorate are facing many of the same expenses as their neighbours but have less in their pockets to meet those expenses. This puts enormous pressure on families and individuals.
And after 19 years, our tired old Labor-Greens government seems to have no clue how much people are suffering or what they should be doing to make things better. As a result, the cost of living in the ACT continues to go up at a rate far greater than in other jurisdictions. In the past year, housing costs in Canberra increased 4.8 per cent compared to a national average of 1.5 per cent. At the same time, utility bills in Canberra soared 5.9 per cent compared to 2 per cent nationally, and transport costs increased 4.8 percent compared to 2.8 per cent elsewhere.
Those opposite may want to dismiss these increases as a few dollars here and a few dollars there. After all, it was Chief Minister Barr who ‘laugh[ed] off increased parking costs’ by claiming that they were less than, quote, ‘the price of a bottle of sparking mineral water at some of our high-end restaurants’.
Madam Speaker, such sneering disdain for average Canberrans and the daily struggle to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables should receive no welcome in this Assembly. The people in my electorate know all too well that even small increases in parking, transport, electricity, gas, water, rent, car registration, property rates, and so forth all add up. This government’s determination to continually increase the cost of doing business makes both goods and services more expensive for everyone. And the end result in far too many cases is misery.
I know what I am talking about, Madam Speaker. After moving to Canberra, my husband and I struggled for years to pay our rent. We skipped heating our home in winter. We fed our children two-minute noodles and leftover bread we picked up from a Belconnen bakery after it closed. We also shared that bread with dozens of other families in similar or worse circumstances.
People in my electorate are hurting. People across this territory are hurting. Canberrans need a government that truly understands how essential it is to reduce cost-of-living pressures. I again thank Mr Wall for raising this important matter today, and I am grateful to my Liberal colleagues for their rock-solid commitment to making sure that everyday Canberrans can afford to live in this city of ours. Thank you.
 Data sourced from the 2016 ABS census.
 ACTCOSS, ACT Cost of Living Report, 2019.