JIM CHALMERS MP
MEMBER FOR RANKIN
IT'S NOT JUST THE COST OF RATs THAT HAVE SOARED
Australians have been there for each other throughout this pandemic and done their bit, but they need a Prime Minister who is there for them and does his job.
Instead, Scott Morrison’s stuff-ups – first with the vaccines, and now losing the RAT race too – have made a terrible time worse for workers and small businesses, right when they needed help the most.
He’s always keen to claim credit but never there to take responsibility.
Now, because there’s a shortage of rapid antigen tests, there’s a shortage of workers, and as a consequence of that, a shortage of groceries on our supermarket shelves.
But when the tests arrive and the shelves are restocked, so many of the challenges that ordinary working families have been facing for much of the last decade will probably still be there.
The same complacency and incompetence which has given Australians a shortage of rapid tests, fresh fruit and veggies has given them a shortage of wages growth for years.
In the lead up to this year’s election - when you hear a lot of spin and marketing from the Morrison Government - remember these facts.
The average Australian worker is more than $1,200 worse off over the past year.
If wages had grown at the same rate as they did on average under the last Labor Government, the average Queensland worker would be $27 a week and $1428 a year better off.
That’s making it much harder to meet the skyrocketing costs of living like petrol and rent, when real wages are going backwards.
On top of that, taxes have been higher every year under the Liberals then what they inherited from Labor in 2013.
Scott Morrison will pocket an extra $150 billion of tax this year alone compared with 2013. He’s taking an extra $4,500 in tax for each Australian.
His Liberals have handed down more consecutive deficits than any other government since the 1920s and racked up a trillion dollars in debt – most of it before the pandemic - with nowhere near enough to show for it in local communities and economies because of all the rorts and waste in the Budget.
He can’t blame this all on the pandemic, when growth in Australia’s living standards had already fallen 24 places compared to other advanced economies between 2013 and 2019, falling behind New Zealand, France, Germany, the UK and US.
Australians are having a go but under this Government and this Prime Minister they just aren’t getting ahead.
After a near decade of inaction, that won’t suddenly change when rapid tests finally hit our shelves and the supply chain mess he was warned about months and months ago is finally cleaned up.
After all of the sacrifices we’ve made for each other during this pandemic, we can and must do so much better than just ‘snapping back’ to all that waste and insecurity.
Australian working families battling skyrocketing costs of living, rent hikes, stagnant wages, insecure work and skills shortages can’t afford three more years like the last eight.
That’s why Labor has real plans for a better future, where the costs of essentials like childcare, power bills and healthcare don’t break the bank.
Because it’s not a real recovery if workers’ real wages are going down, the costs of living are going up, and Australians who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much during this pandemic are the ones being short changed.
This opinion piece was first published in the Courier Mail on Friday, 21 January 2022