Legislative Council: Wednesday, November 15, 2023


Matters of Interest

Cost of Living

The Hon. L.A. HENDERSON (15:20): In March of last year it was reported that house prices in South Australia are growing at a faster pace than the national rate, with a lack of supply pushing the median value of metropolitan homes up by 25 per cent a year. When I shared this figure in my maiden speech, I noted that this is not obtainable for young South Australians, South Australians who are aspirational and working hard to save, in the hope that one day they will be able to afford to buy a home for their family but are struggling to keep up with the price rises as they try to reach their financial targets.

Sadly, since that time, the dream of owning a home has become more and more out of reach for young South Australians and, frankly, so too has renting. ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott noted only this week that:

Getting credit is slowly becoming the preserve of the rich...The average income today of a person getting a home loan is materially higher than the average citizen and that gap [is] continuing to grow. If you want a loan you have to be better off, or essentially, be rich.

We have seen 13 rate rises since May 2022—13. More than half of South Australian mortgage holders are now experiencing mortgage stress. There are now at least 169,653 households enduring mortgage stress across our state, a staggering 57.72 per cent of mortgage holders. To put this into perspective, that is like filling the Adelaide Oval to full capacity almost 3.2 times or the Adelaide Entertainment Centre nearly 17 times. The number of households under mortgage stress will increase if the RBA imposes another pre-Christmas blow to budgets at its final meeting of the year on 5 December. Across the weekend, the Inquirer reported that:

Many living in typically well-off areas are in financial counselling and seeking social support for the first time.

Required mortgage repayments as a nationwide share of disposable income is at a record high of 10 per cent. Bill shock—for petrol, electricity, insurance premiums, rents, childcare and eating out—is on everyone’s lips.

While the consumer price index increased by 5.4 per cent in the year to the September quarter, living costs for these 'employee households' rose by 9 per cent (that includes mortgage interest charges; the CPI does not). Living costs for self-funded retirees rose by 5.7 per cent across the year.

It was reported that:

Real per capita household disposable income (that is, after tax and inflation) fell by 2.2 per cent in the year to June.

It should be noted that dealing in averages of course masks some big swings for some families. Without fail, when I am out in the community, constituents talk to me about the cost-of-living crisis. Make no mistake, there will be children who go to bed hungry tonight. There will be families who forgo sports for their children.

There are people in our community who cannot afford the fuel they need to be able to drive to work, and people in our community who go from community food service to community food service. Foodbank recently released their hunger report for 2023. Under state and federal Labor governments, 3.7 million households in Australia experienced moderate to severe level food insecurity in the past 12 months.

Closer to home, 33 per cent of South Australians are facing moderate to severe food insecurity: people in our own communities not knowing if they will be able to afford their week's groceries to put food on the table for their families. So let's break it down and be clear: South Australians are worse off under Labor. Since the Malinauskas and Albanese governments have formed, inflation across the country has increased, putting pressure on South Australian families.

Take September 2022-23, for example. Bread and cereal products up 8.9 per cent. Dairy and related products up 8 per cent. Rent is up 7.6 per cent. Electricity is up 18 per cent. Gas is up 12.7 per cent and fuel is up 19.7 per cent. I think you get the picture. Household income is not safe under Labor. In the 12 months to June, Australian household incomes slumped 5.1 per cent while it rose 2.2 per cent in the United Kingdom and 3.5 per cent in the United States. The ball is in the government's court to address the cost-of-living pressures for South Australians and they should get on with the job of doing so.

Time expired.