OPINION: Cost of living hits hard

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By Janie Finlay, Labor Member for Bass

Tasmania’s clean, green reputation and wide, open spaces is enviable to many across the nation.

But while our isolation makes us special, it also comes with a cost.

We have had to pay more for goods and petrol and have traditionally earnt lower wages.

But on the other hand, we’ve been fortunate to have cheaper house prices, affordable and clean energy, local produce and amazing vibrant communities.

But now our way of life is out of whack and pressure is mounting.

People are pulling in the purse strings, the cost of living is soaring and everything but people’s wages have gone up.

Our fuel prices continue to be higher than the national average and house prices are increasing with many suburbs around the state becoming the least affordable in the country.

Meanwhile wages have flat lined, business confidence is down and people are leaving our state in record numbers.

Australia is meant to be the land of the fair go, but in recent years it hasn’t been fair for Tasmanians.

In Bass, we are experiencing homelessness at alarming rates, we are seeing families sleep in their cars just so they’ve got somewhere to shelter from the rain.

More people are turning to our charity service providers for assistance and food hampers, and in some cases people are forgoing their medication because they simply cannot afford it.

Those with small businesses have been hard hit, with the government’s token COVID-19 business support packages doing little to alleviate the pain.

With all these pressures mounting on Tasmanians’ budgets, there are more price hikes on the way. Consumer prices are now rising in Tasmania faster than on the mainland.

While property prices have surged out of reach of many buyers, higher rents are making the situation worse.

Housing construction is booming but the cost of building new homes in Tasmania is soaring.

For those fortunate enough to have a roof over their heads, our service providers are not making it any easier.

This comes just after TasWater announced its intentions to increase its rates by 3.5 per cent, only to be knocked back by the regulator.

While TasWater did not get its desired increase, water bills will still increase by more than 3 per cent. This will cost households hundreds of dollars over the next four years.

While all Tasmanians are being challenged by the current cost of living, the government’s new charges and taxes will take more money away from pensioners. These are people who can afford it the least.

What Tasmanians deserve is a fair go and a government that will do everything in its power to ensure our way of life is not compromised.

We need to ease the cost of living and stop unfair price hikes that only assist those at the big end of town.

Every dollar counts, more so than ever.

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