Federal Parliament - Cowan electorate [23 November 2021]

23 November 2021

Dr ALYDeputy Speaker, I'm not going to tell you how good you look because I already told you that in the hallway the other day. I'm a bit sad that I've only got five minutes to talk about this, because I could talk about this all day. You know what they say: give the girl a microphone, and she'll never shut up. But, particularly around the issues of stagnant wages and rising costs of living, I could talk all day, Deputy Prime Minister.

Ms MURPHY: Prime Minister?

Dr ALY: Sorry, Deputy Speaker, I correct that. I could talk all day about it, Deputy Speaker, because every time I go doorknocking, every time I have a Meet your Member event, and every time I pick up the phone in my office, the issue that is front of mind for the people in my community in Cowan is the rising cost of living and stagnant wages. These are real issues and they are live issues for the people of Cowan. I could give you a whole list of different examples, but given the limited time I'm going to limit myself to two examples just to demonstrate what is happening in the community in Cowan and how this issue raised in this MPI around the cost of living and stagnant wages is having a real impact on the Cowan community.

Currently, my office has been assisting a single mother in Cowan. She has escaped domestic violence. She is caring for her child on her own at the same time as studying at university to get an education—and I don't have to tell the House that I can relate to her situation. In March of this year, her landlord increased her rent. Her rent went up from $240 a week to $300 a week—that's 25 per cent—with a six-month only lease. Her real estate agent has now foreshadowed a further rise of $60, which will take her rent up to $360. She's not the only one who has come into my office absolutely in despair and in fear of being left homeless because of rising rents throughout the northern suburbs, in particular, of Western Australia.

Another example is Derek, from Girrawheen, who last month contacted me. Derek said, 'I'd like federal and state governments of the near future to look at recognising that access to low-cost water, electricity, gas, internet, automotive fuels and basic food and accommodation should be seen as necessary staples of modern life.' He's not wrong. Derek also mentioned, 'Prices are quick to rise when oil does but slow to drop when oil drops in price,' which brings me to the cost of petrol and the cost of maintaining a car.

This Prime Minister happens to be a big fan of pork. Can't say I share his affection for that particular brand of meat, but he does like a little bit of pork-barrelling. He does like to tell a few porky pies. Just last week the Prime Minister tried to claim that petrol prices would go up if the Coalition lost the next election. I was quite baffled by this claim because obviously the government cannot control petrol prices; there are a whole range of other factors that come into play. But that claim was even more ludicrous because just this year petrol prices in Perth have gone up by 25 per cent. On Tuesday afternoon, when the prices are at their lowest, on a fortnightly cycle in Perth, Wanneroo Road in the northern suburbs is banked up a kilometre as cars line up to fill up on cheaper petrol. We here in this place are in a very privileged position. We have drivers to drive us around Canberra and we get a car allowance when we're at home. We don't have to worry about the price of petrol—we really don't—and it's important that we acknowledge that and that privilege that we have here. But for the Prime Minister to absolutely ignore the fact that families are struggling with the cost of petrol—I can't even begin to fathom how an average family in Perth's north is watching this Prime Minister and trying to understand it.