Legislative Council: Thursday, June 16, 2022


Cost of Living

The Hon. J.S. LEE (14:36): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development a question about the cost of living.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.S. LEE: Nearly one in three Australians who are renting or borrowing say that they won't be able to afford escalating costs if the Reserve Bank continues to lift interest rates over the coming months. ANZ economists are predicting a steep rise in the cash rate to 2.5 per cent by the middle of next year. Such a rise would lead to an increase in repayments on a 30-year $500,000 loan by nearly a third, rising by $629 to $2,780 a month.

Both the Barossa and Yorke Peninsula have rental vacancies of 1 per cent or lower and there are reports of families in the Riverland and other regions resorting to staying at friends' houses or even in caravan parks as they are unable to secure private rental properties or can't afford to pay rent at all. My questions to the minister are:

1. What is the government's plan to find accommodation for vulnerable individuals and families living in the regions?

2. Can the minister explain what measures the government will put in place for regional families who are facing the prospect of defaulting on their loans or no longer being able to pay their rent?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:38): I thank the honourable member for her question. Several of the aspects that she has included in her questions are the responsibility of other ministers and I will refer those parts of the questions to the appropriate ministers in the other place. But I do think it is worth mentioning that obviously the issues around regional housing have been there for some time. A failure by the former government to address those issues which have emerged, certainly at least over the last four years, is something that is incredibly disappointing. Of course, that is how we see now such a lack of action—

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order, both sides of the chamber!

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —playing out in people's lives.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! Minister, continue please.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: So we do of course now see that lack of action playing out in people's lives. It is also fair to say that some of those issues were there pre-existing—

Members interjecting:


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —and certainly in—

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: The two leaders, you're not helping the minister. Minister, continue, please.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I have also talked in public forums about the fact that they haven't only arisen in the last four years, but of course for the opposition now, having been in government for the previous four years, to then come and suggest that all of the issues have arisen in the last three months is quite ludicrous. I would love to be able to refer back to—

Members interjecting:


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —what might have happened in the last four years to address regional housing shortages—

The Hon. R.P. Wortley interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Wortley!

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —but of course the list would be so short it would take no time whatsoever. I have certainly—

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! Government benches, please, you are not helping the minister, and I can't hear the minister. Continue, please.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order, the Hon. Mr Wortley! The Hon. Mr Wortley, I won't reward you by throwing you out.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Whilst I certainly will refer some of those cost-of-living questions to the appropriate minister in the other place, it is also worth mentioning of course that an increase in the minimum wage that was announced this week will certainly go some way to assisting in cost-of-living pressures, but of course there needs to be far more done. Unfortunately, we didn't see that in the last four years of the Marshall Liberal government, and we certainly didn't see it in the umpteen years under various leaders of the federal government whilst the Liberals were in government nationally.