How can we solve the cost of living crisis?
There are a whole lot of things that can be done to ease the cost of living pressures on households. It is a complete con to think that all we can possibly hope for is a tiny little one-off bonus or handout or something like that.
There are two aspects to improving the cost of living: one is increasing the amount of money regular people have at their disposal and the other is reducing the cost of the things we currently have to pay for.
So, we should increase the social security payments to be above the poverty line, we should increase the minimum wage, we should get rid of anti-union laws so that workers and their unions can fight for wage rises and we should have a return to automatic indexation of pensions, social security payments and wages so that we can keep up with the cost of living.
On the other hand, we also need to increase the social wage and expand the public provision of healthcare, housing, education and transport needs so that they are available for everyone.
We need to build 1 million homes and, meanwhile, we need a cap on rent so that people who are stuck in private rental situations aren’t going to have to pay more than 30% of their income in rent.
We need an expansion of public education — and fully fund it — so that there are no hidden fees all the way through early education, to school, university and postgraduate study: it needs to be free.
We need public transport to be expanded so that the majority of commuting can be done for free on public transport.
We need an expansion of public health care so that all the hospitals, GP visits and allied health; physios, dental — everything, all our healthcare — is publicly paid for and available for free at the point of need.
Increasing the social wage and increasing our individual wage are really the two key ways that a government for the people would be able to ease the cost of living.
Of course, that is going to take some money. Where is that going to come from? We have to tax the corporations, tax the billionaires, so there is money in the coffers.
The rich have made a bucket during the pandemic; they don’t need any more handouts. What we need to do is tax them to return it to the public coffers: this is the money that we need to meet people’s needs and ease the cost of living.
[Kamala Emanuel is the Queensland Senate candidate for the Socialist Alliance.]