Billions of dollars worth of “targeted” and “responsible” cost of living measures will this month begin flowing through for millions of Australians feeling the pinch at the checkout or when paying their bills.
While the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicates inflation is moderating – up 4.9 per cent in the year to July but down from 5.4 per cent the month prior – Treasurer Jim Chalmers said people across the country were “under the pump”.
From September 20, more than a million Australians on income support will benefit from the largest set of permanent increases (outside the Covid pandemic) in 14 years, with payments to increase $40 a fortnight for around 7820,000 people on JobSeeker; for about 222,000 Australians on Youth Allowance; and for 64,000 families on the partnered parenting payment.
Single parents will no longer be cut off from government assistance after their youngest child turns eight from September 20, with the sole parenting payment to now continue up until that child is 14 – estimated to benefit around 57,000 families to the tune of an extra $176.90 a fortnight.
And the 1.1 million Australia households accessing Commonwealth rent assistance will be bolstered by a 15 per cent increase to the maximum rate – the largest in more than 30 years, as well as the CPI increase on September 20.
Dr Chalmers said the measures – which will cost the government $4.7bn – were “what people need, when they need it most”, and would not add to inflation.
“Whether it’s cheaper medicines, more support to pay the bills or a bit of help to pay the rent, these policies and programs are targeted to take the pressure off while times are toughest,” he said.
In addition, millions of Australians with chronic health conditions are now able to access 60-day dispensing for some medications – effectively halving the cost of their medicines – after the policy came into effect on September 1.
Health Minister Mark Butler said cheaper medicines were not just good for the health of Australians, but were “good for the hip pocket”.
“Pensioners with a heart condition, children with Crohn’s disease, veterans with high cholesterol, mothers with osteoporosis and fathers with high blood pressure will get important cost of living relief,” he said.
“Every single Australian will benefit from the freeing up of millions of much-needed GP visits, so our doctors have more time to diagnose and treat conditions, instead of simply issuing routine, repeat scripts.”
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said Labor was delivering on its commitment to “build a strong social security safety net” for those who needed it.
“We will always work to provide a strong safety net for Australians when they need it most,” she said.
The suite of measures rolling out in September follows a number of interventions in July, including cheaper child care for 1.2 million families, a 15 per cent pay rise for 250,000 aged care workers, and power bill relief for lower-income households and businesses.