Heartbreaking moment Aussie battler with only $20 in her bank account asks Jim Chalmers what essential items she should go without as the Treasurer is grilled on QandA over the country’s cost of living crisis
- Battler with $20 to her name asks Treasurer what basics she can do without
- Jim Chalmers says inflation must be tamed and that limits government spending
- Chalmers ‘takes responsibility’ for the budget but is doing what he can to help
- He told QandA audience inflation is set to get worse but will ‘moderate’ next year
- Do you know Fiona? Contact email@example.com
A welfare recipient with just $20 to her name has left the Treasurer struggling to offer hope as to when her grim struggle to survive might ease.
Fiona, who was in the ABC studio audience for Jim Chalmers’ post-budget solo appearance on QandA, said surging prices had emptied her bank account and now she’s having to make impossible choices between food and medicine.
Although Age, Carer and Disability Support Pensioners will see a rise of $38.90 a fortnight for singles and $58.80 for couples, Fiona pointed out it’s still not enough to keep up with soaring inflation.
‘Welfare recipients like myself are meant to be grateful for that rise, what essentials should I be cutting from my budget?’ she asked Dr Chalmers.
Fiona (pictured) asked Treasurer Jim Chalmers what essentials she could do without as her pension gets eaten away by skyrocketing prices
The Treasurer responded by saying Australia’s biggest challenge ‘is that the cost of living is going through the roof’ disproportionately impacting on the most vulnerable.
He admitted the automatic measures that mean welfare recipients get paid extra to help with inflation were only going to provide minor relief.
‘I know that’s not always enough, I know that’s often not enough,’ Dr Chalmers said.
‘We’ve got to try to work out how do we provide that cost of living relief in a responsible way.
‘How do we provide money to people without making the inflation problem worse, which is really my major concern.’
Dr Chalmers said that getting inflation under control was the nation’s main challenge
Near-term inflation forecasts have been blown out of the water with a shock rise in the annual rate of price increases to 7.3 percent, which was well above market expectations.
It was Australia’s highest inflation reading since 1990 and meant prices were sky-rocketing at almost three times the pace of wage growth, which also jacked up predictions for the expected inflationary peak from 7.75 per cent to 8 per cent.
The quarterly increase in the consumer price index (CPI), which is basket of a typical household’s goods and services, jumped 1.8 percent for the quarter, above the market forecast of 1.6 percent.
Fiona said the extra inflation-indexed pension payments she would get were ‘still playing catch- up and still falling behind’.
She revealed that having an eye scan meant she couldn’t afford to go the GP, because he no longer bulk bills.
The cost of everyday items is sky-rocketing with inflation running at the highest annual rate Australia has seen since since 1990
‘Pension day is tomorrow, I do have $20 in because it came in late for some reason,’ Fiona said.
‘$20 in bank account for pension day tomorrow and we’re working week to week very much and shuffling.’
When asked when things might get better for Fiona the Treasurer struggled to offer much hope.
‘I don’t want to pretend to Fiona or anyone in Fiona’s position that the budget nine nights ago fixed all of these challenges,’ Dr Chalmers said.
He said the budget provided some cost of living relief in areas such as medicine, healthcare, childcare, parental leave and that the government had a policy to get ‘wages moving’.
The consumer price index in the June quarter soared at the steepest pace since mid-2001
However, he said things were going to get worse before they get better.
‘The expectations of the Reserve Bank and Treasury is that inflation will get a bit worse until the end of the year and then to start to moderate,’ he said.
Dr Chalmers said he took ‘responsibility’ for the part he was playing.
‘For too long we have people in roles like mine who pretend they have nothing to do with it,’ he said.
‘I accept responsibility in the budgets I put together and the main thing I can do for Fiona and the people of Australia is to let this inflation get out of control.’
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