Keeping Promises

19 March, 2024

I don't mind if the government have programs and they say things before an election campaign about what they're going to do in regard to housing. But don't then tell me 100 times that you're going to reduce the cost of power—as the previous member just said, they have a power reduction program—by $275. You said that time after time after time, and people in my electorate listened to you, understood what you were saying and supported you. A whole four per cent of them decided to move towards the Labor Party and away from my position. People thought, 'I'm going to be $275 better off if I vote Labor.' What has happened? They haven't had a $275 reduction.

But then Labor said, 'Oh, no, we've got five years to do that.' The trouble is that the Prime Minister didn't say that during the election campaign. He didn't say, 'In five years time I'll give you a $275 cut.' He just said, 'I'll give you a $275 cut.' It's sort of a reversal of the 'Mediscare' campaign from the previous election. It's a promise to say, 'I'm going to give you this,' but then they don't give it to you. You can understand that people are under pressure, and all the previous speakers have recognised that people are under pressure from power prices and a lot of state government costs, like your water and your electricity. When has the federal government come along and said, 'Here's what we can do for you'? It hasn't happened.

What happens in your new housing program, whatever it's called, which we just debated in the House and went through—it's another first home buyer type scheme; oh, it's the Help to Buy program—when the market intervenes, people can't pay for some reason, their interest rates go too high and they're under pressure?

I went to get a punctured tyre repaired, and the guy repairing the tyre said, 'You're the politician, aren't you?' And I said yes, but I was trying to hide it, with the way I was dressed. He said, 'Do you know my mortgage has gone up 1,500 bucks?' This guy is running and is part owner of a very good tyre business. They've always looked after me very well in Pakenham and always been great. He said: 'It's 1,500 bucks, mate. That's what it's costing me over and above what I was paying.' He said, 'I have to find that money.'

I recently had a very well-paid person come to me and say, 'Russell, you don't understand how high the mortgage is that we've got to pay.' Well, no, I don't understand how high his mortgage is, because when I took out the mortgage on the small farm that I'm on it was $30,000. Then, in the next episode, from others that I've heard about, their mortgages went to $60,000, then $80,000, then $150,000 and then $200,000. When I asked a young girl who worked with me for a while, Priscilla, what she'd borrowed to get into her unit in Parkdale, or wherever it was, she said $400,000. I was in shock. Now people are borrowing $1 million. For some of the people these days who have borrowed that sort of money, a tiny change in interest rates is catastrophic. And they all believed that interest rates wouldn't change for a long time. As we heard from the member who spoke before, people come up to you and say, 'I've just moved from a fixed loan to a variable loan, and the price has gone through the roof for me.' And this has happened to thousands of people across Australia. I learned very quickly that people are now relying not only on their income but also on their savings. They're using up their savings just to survive at the moment.

Governments should be very aware of the electorate when people are under pressure, because they will have regard for everything you say, all the time, about what you're going to do. And if you don't do it beware, because the people will be coming for you.

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Russell Broadbent MP
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