With MPs heading back to Canberra, what’s on your wishlist this cost-of-living crisis?

Saturday afternoon saw a flutter of tweets speculating about what might be served up to us plebs after Labor MPs return to Canberra early to solve the cost-of-living crisis and their slump in the important but not important at all polls.

I have my theories about what is possible and likely. And since I have a personal blog I get to write about them, with no qualifications other than I, too, am here in this country at this time, reading news and feeling the vibes.

Extending the energy rebates – This is an easy one as they’re only set for this financial year, so Labor will pop them into the May budget and probably even further expanded. I know they vary by state, but people already receiving concessions on their bills here in NSW got $125 a quarter off their bills automatically, and it was recently expanded to more families, but you have to apply. Not sure if they’ll up the value, or give it to more people. But it will be there for 24/25 and in place for the 2025 election.

Increasing the energy supplement in welfare payments – This famously hasn’t risen since its introduction in 2013 is it isn’t indexed. I get $10.60 a fortnight as a partnered disability pensioner. Could I see them doubling that supplement? Maybe? No, it’s not a huge amount extra, but it’d be extra targeted at the poorest on a hot item. It wouldn’t come in immediately though, might not even be til September if it’s a May Budget item.

Back to school payments – Yeah, it’s always a hot topic at this time of year, how expensive it is to send kids to public school, uniform and shoe costs, materials, backpacks, laptops and more. But it seems more pointed this year, perhaps it comes alongside the increasing stories of families living in tents, when they then have to find money for a laptop, let alone a place to reliably use it or charge it. It would be popular and really couldn’t be criticised. Cash payments to parents of school aged kids, non-means tested would be the fastest way and the most effective – but they do love their vouchers :/ It would take immediate heat off the government too, because they’ll need sometime that looks like it’s happening NOW, and feeding a clothing kids looks good.

Welfare Payments – I don’t see an increase to base rates happening this budget outside indexation, which is why I think the energy supplement may be a way to go about increasing the amount people are getting slightly, without angering the usual. I mean I WANT them to raise all payments above the poverty line, and I will push for that and ask for that and make arguments for it. But I don’t see it coming from this meeting, and not in the May budget. Would we believe them in they take it the the election though without any significant movement in the previous years? Yeah nah. That ship has sailed for Labor and unless they do blindside us in May with significant increases, particularly at the JobSeeker and Youth Allowance rates, noone’s going to believe their “good intentions” come 2025.

Rejig of Stage Three Greg Jericho and The Australia Institute have done the legwork for them, giving them a model that flattens out the cuts a bit more while not removing them completely. You need to remember Labor voted for the bill in the first place and have been extremely insistent on keeping that promise to the top end. It also leaves them with money to put towards those other payments. I mean, they COULD just bring back the Low and Middle Income Tax Offset that was so sorely missed last year, that hit a lot of people unexpectedly. It’s an option. They won’t scrap stage three though.

A picture of Lego Unikitty with a tie and glasses drawn on, speech bubble with the quote “Business, business, business. Numbers. Is this working?”

Business business business (is this working?) – I really don’t know or care what they do for businesses, I’m sure that there will be heaps. Yeah, my partner is self employed but we really don’t get any of the subsidies and such that are out there at this level *shrugs*

From the previous cost of living measures that haven’t excited me all that much, I don’t think this meeting will bring more rent assistance, and while personally more money is nice rent assistance is way too little too late and not given to enough people. They need to buy more public housing now, since building is going to take forever. Acquire vacant properties, put them in the public housing pool in a couple of months. Maybe they’ll extended the increased medicare bulk billing incentive? But to who and how? And is it too late with doctors dropping bulk billing as I type? They won’t do anything with medicines, that was already a big one. Unless they lower the safety nets? Personally I need less upfront costs for medical care and medicines, not rebates that kick in later. If I avoid the doctor cos the upfront cost is too high, I’ll never reach the safety net. And I’ll be more expensive down the track.

What do you think will come out of Wednesday’s meeting and the May budget and will it actually make a difference to you?

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

I have to say I’m pretty chuffed hearing back from people who had their Christmas dinners funded by my little thread on twitter. I feared it would flop or worse draw backlash. But it was so heartwarming 🙂 Thanks you to everyone who gave and received!!!!!

My Christmas was good and quiet, cooked a Xmas eve dinner for Bruce and I, went up to my cousins for Xmas lunch, and had leftovers with Bruce and his son for Xmas dinner. I’m glad it was quiet because I’ve been a bit deaf in my ears since about Thursday and I tried wax removal but it’s not better despite a heap of wax coming out. My Right wrist seems to have succumbed to RSI and gave me shooting pain I couldn’t sleep with a few nights, and my ankle I rolled while moving is still giving me grief. I do believe my body is screaming at me to stop. Usually it just gives me a sore throat, but I guess I pushed through too much and here we are, ringing ears to ring in the new year? I have a GP appointment booked on the 4th, so if I’m still suffering then I can tell all my woes to my non-bulk-billed GP for $69 upfront.

 

So we’ve moved in a starting to settle – the kids moved out a few days ago too. That was a stressful time and lead up but I’m glad we were able to provide them with clean safe housing for a few months while they established their baby. (yes, like a plant. I’m thinking of planting a rosemary bush here)

So, I rest this week, potter around, drive my little car with its new purple steering wheel to the shops when my ears give me more feedback on the world.

Love yas!

Half-Term for Labor… and a 50-50 2pp?

Don’t listen to the polls unless they suit you, and then don’t listen then, but surely Labor finding themselves at a 50-50 two party preferred 18 months into what they hope to the be the first term of many should be a wake-up call for Albanese and co? The fear of many in my circles in they’re seeing it as a signal they need to be more like Dutton, and the rushed legislation to continue criminalising the immigrants that had been ruled to be detained indefinitely illegally doesn’t sit well. Labor needs to remember they’re not necessarily losing votes to the LNP by being shit-lite, but to Greens and Independents from across the political spectrum.

They saw it blatantly with the election of Dai Le in Fowler, Labor took a population for granted, and in more than one seat went against the wishes of the local branch to pick their candidate. And Keneally’s loss was spectacular, And State and Federal parliamentary Labor are thumbing their nose once more at voters they continue to take for granted – Muslim and Arab families, and those who love them, by ignoring their local branches – including the PM’s own Marrickville –  calls for stronger language to be used when calling for Israel to stop their slaughter in Gaza and the rest of the region. The “pause” we have at the moment, Israel not receiving any condemnation for its blatant breaches and ridiculous actions that their army is willingly boasting about on Tik Tok of all places.

But what do I want from Labor? Have I given them enough time? Let’s look at their current 10 points they and their stans keeps talking up and letcha know how they’re working in reality.

1. Energy bill relief

For me in NSW, as a concession card holder, I get a total of $500 over this financial year credited to my account. This has ben $125 each quarter so far, but it has quickly disappeared and been absorbed by the doubling of the power bill by taking on the kids – who while they also have concessions can’t get additional support towards the bill, because it’s once per household. I hear that different places are rolling out more community batteries soon, which is awesome and really helps balance that load, but wouldn’t it be nice if renters were able to get their landlords to install solar and take advantage of that cheap cheap electricity?

2. Cheaper child care

Initial reports of fees going up with the subsidy going up abound, overall child care costs less per hour per child now than it did. But there’s many parts of the country where there are not enough places, workers are still underpaid for what they do to support the little ones and there’s still a requirement to be working or studying a certain amount to access the subsidy, which rules out a lot of precarious workers and kids who would benefit developmentally from attending childcare or preschool.

3. Increased rent assistance

*insert snorting milk out of nose gif here* – I’m getting a whole $13 a week extra in rent assistance now. And my rent is going up $60 a week in the upcoming move, not even taking into account the thousands we have to spend to move between bod, rent in advance, overlapping rent, and utilities, cleaning, petrol and van hire, time off work for Bruce and general stress expenses. “Fortunately” Bruce received his Nan’s inheritance earlier than expected, and instead of using that for car upgrades and tools for work we’re having to drop a lot on this move, and hopefully get some of it back when we get the bond, sell my AU and hopefully sell some of Bruce’s car parts. But it succcckkkkkkkkssss.

4. More Medicare bulk billing

I’ll letcha know Wednesday if I get bulk billed, but nothing on the doctor’s website indicates they’re going back to bulk billing kids and concession card holders despite the increased incentive, so I’m gonna rock up with that $69 to pay and hope they tell me nah, it’s on the government. But we’ll see.

UPDATE 29/11 – I wasn’t bulk billed.

5. Cheaper medicines

Not for concession card holders, ours were indexed with inflation on Jan 1. Happy for those without concessions who’ve seen some of theirs go down though.

6. Boosting income support payments

How’d my frens out there on youth allowance and jobseeker spend their extra $20 a week? Don’t know, it just got absorbed because the costs of essentials continue to grow faster than inflation? Yeah, if you see someone shoplifting, no you didn’t. And, no there was no increase to DSP, my $59 a day partner rate is doing some heavy lifting.

Graphic design of a garbage dumpster on fire with bin juice pooling at the bottom above the text "centrestink"
Centrestink bin fire by Jez Heywood

7. Fee-free TAFE training

In select courses and limited in number, and with Austudy and Youth allowance so far below the poverty line how can you even AFFORD to study even if the course itself is free? How do you pay for transport and internet and food and texts and course supplies?

8. Building more affordable homes

Hoping to see these happen, but wow, there’s a long time before we see any impact there. And how the fuck does one even define affordable when it just needs to rent out $10 a week lower than market rate. Which is unaffordable for essential university trained teachers and such let alone supermarket workers, students and disabled people. It doesn’t stop rents continue to go up, renters being in such a vulnerable position. State, Federal and Councils need to directly buy and build public housing. They only way to fix the housing stock is to build for those at the bottom, get the families out of the caravan parks and tents, allow families to live and stay in a community for their kids to grow up, not fear having to move at the next rent hike.

9, Expanding Paid parental leave

I’m incredible uninformed on this. Probably would have been awesome as a baby producing allied health worker on $100k a year. As the second parent of a newborn, the son in law was entitled to two weeks off mutual obligations when bub was born, and got cut off several times for missing appointments because the baby was up all night. At least parents next is gone, but hey all those parents who got to access single parent payment up to their kids turning 14 now have to do mutual obligations…

10 Creating jobs and getting wages moving again

Oooh is that the 3000 Centrelink jobs to deal with the massive call wait times, months delays in processing payments and the 180 staff leaving the agency each month? Union members are striking in the meantime because despite promises to restore the public service the government can’t agree to a pay seal for Services Australia staff. The government needs to set the standard it expects from the rest of the employers out there, and in this they are failing.

A red background with text 10 ways we are helping Australian with the cost of living 1. Energy bill relief 2. cheaper child care 3. Increase rent assistance 4 more medicare bulk billing 5. Cheaper medicines 6. Boosting income support payments 7. fee-free tafe training 8. Building more affordable homes 8. Expanding Paid parental leave 10 Creating jobs and getting wages moving again

So yeah, I’m tired, stressed, broke and disappointed in the Albanese government’s first 18 months. I’m sad to see Palestinians being killed and the founder of the Friends of Palestine unwilling to put his neck out and condemn the slaughter.

I’ll get through this move, and vow to use the faster internet I’ve been promised by TPG to do what I can to continue to speak truth to power. We get the keys in a week, and hand back the keys for the current place on the 13th.

Send coffee, cleaning products and chocolate. So much chocolate.

Love you guys.

Having your adult kids move in and not on the lease is the new having undeclared pets in a rental

 

There was an article in the Guardian this week “‘You can’t send them to their room’: the tensions and challenges of parenting adult children” and credit to my parents who took my sister and me back in as growned ups, a certainly not in easy times in our lives. But this is my challenge now, parenting 18 year olds, when I didn’t even parent them as kids. While they themselves are parents now trying to figure out how to do that too.

Yes, I’m a mountain of stress at the moment, moving house before Christmas wasn’t in my plan, but here we are, and I’m glad that the finding part was so short (8 days between finding out the owners were selling and being accepted for a place). But this next month is gonna be crazy. Crazier than normal for a homeful of neurodivergent people just trying to find their place in the world. At least we’ll fit into the new place – aside from the purple bathtub it has a secondary bathroom that I get to relegate the kids to!

After reading that Guardian piece, I was thinking about the situations of having to move back in with your parents, and how I did that, but I was moving in with parents who own their own home. While it puts pressure on everyone, one big strain that’s come from having the kids here is us renting this place (and the next place) and them being here being in breach of the lease agreement that only two adults maximum would live here regularly. After three months it’s certainly regularly. Them being in their mum’s house but over 18 and not on the lease was included as a reason why they could be considered homeless by the social worker before bub was born, because they could be asked to leave at any moment.

I guess that makes them homeless still now.

So, when they moved in and shortly after we were informed of an inspection. my fear was that the real estate wouldn’t take too kindly to there being extra bodies in the house. Which is one of the reasons why that inspection and trying to get everything clean was so stressful, not a hair outta place was the aim. And getting the kids to get their stuff done was a task in itself with the new bub and mental health issues and so forth. Fun. But we got there. And then we thought we’d get to stay.

PSYCH!

So, they’re coming to the new place with us, again not on the lease, and I was thinking, are adult children that aren’t on your lease the new undeclared pets that you hide at your mates when it’s inspection day? That you could have legally had one they were under 18, but full time as adults is naughty naughty and it’s not like you’re going to try to GET them on the lease when you apply since, like not declaring your dog, they make you lower down the list and youth don’t look good to any real estate agent?

So, I was able to stay in the home my parents owned, but then we’re smuggling kids here in our rental, risking our own tenancy and not just our sanity. And their kids? I can’t exactly being the teenagers back to my parents like Jen did with her bubs either.

It’s also not even about saving for a house deposit any more. Somehow they’ll need to find at least $3000 upfront for bond and 2 weeks rent when they DO find a place. Hard to save for any, impossible on youth allowance, and I know there’s bond loans but ugh they do now look good on paper do they :/

Good luck out there x

More musings on food banks

A tray of brawnies on the stove and a hand in front holding  packet mix of greens vegemite brownies
The $1 Vegemite brownies I got from the church foodbanks were… odd. And they haven’t been finished off which usually happens to anything sweet in this house. I see why they were written off at the supermarket as not selling.

So, I was scrolling through Twitter and in amongst the horrors occurring in Palestine, I saw a few friends commenting on a post made by a chap named Kos Samaras , talking about how poor people are more concerned about the cost of living than deaths in Palestine. He made another one similar about the failed referendum. I’d link or share a screenshot, but I’m blocked. Kos is a Labor chap and lobbiest. So I guess he doesn’t like poor people speaking up for themselves. Kinda like how Van Badham blocked me not long after I replied to a post she (and Jane Caro and someone else echoed) asking about our experiences on welfare and I shared my story of being rejected for DSP. I mean t wasn’t in response to that post I was blocked, but it was the same week, she was just on a run of blocking people in the antipoverty space,

Anyways. In this thread, Greg Jericho (of Grog’s Gamut fame, ‘member when he was one of the first Aussie bloggers sacked over blogging?) posted a link to a recent Australia Institute report on Food Waste In Australia, with the overview talking about how food retailers actually profit from food waste, to the tune of $1.2 billion. How they do that is just another story of the rules allow you to make more money when you already have money – can’t sell something? Write it off as a loss and sell it cheap or donate it to Foodbank or Ozharvest and look like a hero while it doesn’t actually cost you anything. Meanwhile you can mark up your regular stock because things apparently are expensive, and you need to cover the cost of surveillance cameras, auto closing gates, racial profiling, and having guards follow Blak kids around the store (you’ve seen it happen), or just having your regular staff grabbing 4 year olds and accusing them of stealing.

It concerns me then that supermarkets and charities like Foodbank push for more financial incentives for Supermarkets to donate less desirable goods – whether they’re past their bet before days, a bit ugly or just not moving off the shelves – rather than advocating to raise income support or regulate how much profit Coles can make off a grocery shop so that we can buy the products we want when we want them and not have to rely on the “kindness” of others who make more money than us to get us these offcuts.

I still struggle with Woolies asking me (or anyone) for a 50 cent donation for foodbank at the checkout when the charities I buy my pantry goods from are charged for their orders of donated goods. Maybe I’m missing something? I’ve not gone into the nitty gritty of their annual reports  of the not for profits, but I still know I’m paying for that can of chickpeas from the church pantry.

I noticed the other day that my local woolies accepts direct donated goods from customers for two local community centres via OzHarvest. And I checked, those then are free for the person off the street in need. So, please, do check where your donation is going, because it all feels like there’s a lot of money being passed around and written in spreadsheets only for the welfare class to be told to be happy they’re getting anything at all.