Families cop hidden costs

24 June, 2024

I have risen to speak on motions like this probably many times in my time in the parliament, and it is very clear to me now that this is another promotion that has come straight out of polling. The Labor Party repeat, 'We want you to have more money and keep more of your money.' They have proposals here in the budget. But I would like to take them up on just a couple of things.

While the energy bill relief is targeted and helpful for people, energy bills have gone through the roof so badly that these measures haven't got the punch that they would have had if we hadn't had the increases that we're experiencing now through inflation. Household insurance and business insurance doubled in many cases last year and had a further increase this year.

But it's the hidden costs that I want to talk about today. What are the hidden costs that are hitting people very hard? I'll give you two examples. I know they're both state issues, but families are families are families. We're responsible for them, state governments are responsible for them, and local governments are responsible for them. Everybody's taken their chip, to the point where a report from the other day, from a welfare agency that provides food and welfare for the community, said, 'The people that used to donate to us are now coming to us for food parcels.' That's an indictment on everything that we're doing at the moment.

In the first example, a builder is picked up on a camera—a speed camera or a camera checking registrations et cetera—and they find out that the tandem trailer is two days over its registered date and that the builder was driving around with a trailer that had been unregistered for two days. Fair enough. You would think you'd get a reasonable fine for that. The registration for that trailer is $75. The fine is $772, and if you don't pay it within the given time then it's another $65 on top of that for compliance. I'll give you another example of what's happening to people out in the community. This guy is speeding; he's eight kilometres over. He gets a fine, because his car is registered under a business name, of $3,698. That is a fine for being eight kilometres over. Just take those two instances and recognise that that's happening to thousands and thousands of people and families right across Australia.

Where do governments get off with such outrageous challenges to anybody just going about their daily business? Every one of us has probably been eight kilometres over and not been fined or been 14 kilometres over and been fined. We never know where the cameras are, but, just the same, we all try to be law-abiding citizens. Fines like that are outrageous. They have to be paid, and the families that are on lower and middle incomes don't have $3,000 just sitting around. They don't have $772 just sitting around waiting to be paid to the state government.

I've got to say: in all the representations we make as parliamentarians on behalf of our community, we have to decide how we're going to better distribute the funds that are available to us. Where are the priorities of this nation on where we're spending our money against the pensioners and single-income earners in Australia that should be getting the best support we can possibly give them? I don't think we should be sending our good money to places where there may be disagreement within our community on where that money should go. We didn't vote to send money overseas to places we've been sending money to; you might have voted in a different way had you known that was going to happen. It's time we put families first. It's an old saying—that we put families first—but I mean it, from grandma and granddad all the way through to children. It says in here—not enough, apparently.

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Russell Broadbent MP
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