Money woes are hurting a lot of us right now but the government says millions of Australian households and small businesses will be eligible for billions of dollars worth of cost-of-living relief in November to “take the edge” off the current financial burden.
The government is under pressure to get control of the spiralling cost-of-living pressure getting on top of Australians who are being slugged with out-of-control petrol prices, skyrocketing rents and energy hikes - all factors playing into the “sticky” inflation figure that’s likely to push another rate hike.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the government was “doing our best” to ease the burden and pointed to the rollout of $23 billion in cost-of-living relief, which includes Medicare, energy rebates, medicine and child care.
So, what benefits does the government say it's rolling out in November and will they help you?
Medicare changes: Tripling of the bulk-billing incentive will make it cheaper to see a GP, with “more than 11 million young and low-income Australians able to go to a doctor with no out-of-pocket expenses. Check out our explainer here.
Energy rebates: Further instalments of the budget relief package mean eligible households can get up to $500 and small businesses up to $650 credited to their power bills each year - in quarterly payments. Your eligibility was reassessed on October 31 so you may be getting another or a new payment. Check out our explainer here.
Housing relief: The Housing Australia Future Fund has commenced and will support the delivery of 20,000 social homes and 10,000 affordable homes but it's a five-year plan. It won’t make any instant impact in the short term and, for context, today it was found that, over five years, tenants were burning through a house deposit’s worth of cash just to keep a roof over their heads. Read more about the calls for broader reforms here.
“Our rollout of billions of dollars of cost-of-living relief ramps up again today,” Chalmers said.
“Whether it’s bulk-billing, energy rebates, cheaper medicines or cheaper child care, we’re doing everything we can to responsibly ease the cost of living for Australians.”
Petrol excise: The elephant in the room
Chalmers acknowledged the extra pressures international conflicts were having on the cost of petrol - named as one of the issues stopping inflation from coming down - but he stopped short of calling for another temporary cut to the fuel excise.
The fuel excise is a tax levied by the federal government on petrol and diesel bought at the bowser. Motorists currently pay 48.8 cents in excise for every litre of fuel they purchase.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton had indicated the Coalition would support the measure to give some relief to motorists, but Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie said her party would not back him.
“Global oil production cuts, the war in Europe and the conflict in the Middle East are contributing to price pressures globally and here at home – and many Australians are seeing the impact of this at the bowser,” Chalmers said.
“We understand that Australians are under the pump. This relief will help to ease some of the pressure on people at the same time as it will help ease inflation in our economy.”
Petrol prices jumped 7.2 per cent in the last financial quarter, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which also found inflation rose by 1.2 per cent in September, up from 0.8 per cent in June.