When I speak to people in my electorate of Indi, whether it’s a small town like Jamieson or a hub like Wodonga or Wangaratta, overwhelmingly people talk to me about the high cost of living, the pressures on their budget that make it harder to keep their heads above water.

As their voice in this place, it is my duty to tell the Government that the people of Indi want no stone to be left unturned when it comes to measures that will assist with cost of living pressures.

I know many members of the Government would answer that and say “well we have changed the stage three tax cuts!” and while that is welcome, it can’t be the end of the story.

Some 95 per cent of taxpayers in Indi will benefit from the new stage three tax cuts, and I am impatiently waiting for July 1 for those people in my community to see that extra money in their pay cheque each week.

But for communities like mine, where household incomes are well below the national average, there are many people for whom the tax cuts won’t make any difference. In fact there are 25,000 people in Indi with incomes below the tax-free threshold who won’t see a difference in their bank balances come July 1.

We know the Government is preparing the Federal Budget, and it is these people who must be at the top of mind when decisions are made on cost of living measures.

The Treasurer told us last week not to expect a “cash splash” in the budget, which I think misses the point – there is plenty the Government can be doing on cost of living that goes further than cash handouts.

As an Independent Member of Parliament, I make it my mission not to come here and only bring complaints and criticisms, but to bring solutions.

So I hope the Treasurer is taking note, because I’m here with ideas to address the cost of living.

First, pass my Cheaper Home Batteries Bill, which would address many of the challenges we face – households with solar panels would be able to keep more of the energy they generate, spending less on their power bills. If we had as many home batteries as we have home solar systems, we could reduce the need for grid-scale energy storage across the country.

Then back the Member for Wentworth’s People Power Plan – measures that would help people who don’t have access to household solar and batteries to reduce their own bills and emissions at the same time.

But energy bill savings can’t just be for households – they need to be for business too. The Energy Efficiency Grants for Small and Medium Enterprises program has benefited many businesses in Indi but there are so many more who want to take part.

When people talk to me about cost of living pressures, they talk to me about the cost of housing. That’s why I introduced the Unlocking Regional Housing Bill – to kickstart housing supply across regional Australia and make more housing available to stop people getting squeezed out of their homes by rising rents and mortgage repayments.

Addressing price gouging at the major supermarkets is urgent – we need measures with real penalties for the big two that protect us as consumers and the farmers who grow our fresh produce. So many of them are in the electorate of Indi.

Speaker, healthcare is another area where people in Indi are feeling rising costs. In this area I will acknowledge some of the Government’s positive work. Tripling the GP bulk billing incentive has led to a 5.9 per cent increase in the rate of bulk billing in Indi, with an estimated 6,958 bulk billed appointments. That’s an estimated saving of $309,700 in gap fees in just two months.

We know making it easier and cheaper to see the doctor helps people with the cost of living – but this needs to go further than just doctors. We need better access to primary healthcare nurses, nurse practitioners, psychologists, and allied health professionals like occupational therapists and speech therapists and funding their full scope of practice must be a priority come budget time.

Reducing the cost of higher education would also assist my constituents with the cost of living, through more fee-free TAFE, fixing HECS repayments and paying students to complete compulsory placements as part of their training and education.

And for those on the lowest incomes – relying on social welfare payments like JobSeeker, the aged pension, student payments and rent assistance – those payments need to go up – and not just to meet inflation, but further.

There you go Treasurer – measures that can help people with their energy bills, the cost of housing, the cost of groceries, the cost of education and the cost of healthcare.

Sign up

Keep up to date with the latest news and information