Queensland: The Cost of Living Crisis!

What cost of living crisis?

I was going to tell you about pokies today, but something else has cropped up. In a change of plan, pokies will be next week, today it’s pollies, or politicians. You’ll see why in a minute.

So what happened?

Rising Costs CreatureAs you all know, I have an entire category about the cost of living in Australia. I’ve written posts about the cost of houses, cars, petrol, beer, wine, electricity and water to name just a few.

When I first arrived, my immediate impression when comparing the costs here with what we were used to back in England was “not much in it”. As time has gone on, more and more people seem to disagree with me as costs here in Australia rise whilst they appear to be getting cheaper in England.

Clearly, from an England versus Australia cost of living point of view, the exchange rate has had a huge effect on any direct comparisons. One Aussie dollar used to be worth about 40 pence three months before I moved here. Now an Aussie dollar at today’s exchange rate is worth just over 65 pence.

But let’s put that influence to one side for the minute, and talk about prices in Australia in isolation.

A report has just been released from the Queensland Council of Social Service’s about the cost of living in Queensland. Whilst it is Queensland specific, much of it (but not all) will apply nationwide.

What did they come up with?

They’ve looked at prices over the last five years and noted the following changes in Queensland……

  • Electricity, gas & water – Up 63%
  • Public transport – Up 48%
  • Insurance – Up 40%
  • Rent – Up 35%
  • Food – Up 23%
  • Clothing & footwear – Up 4%
  • Household appliances – Up 3%
  • Motor vehicles – No change
  • Audio, TV’s, computers – Down 52%

I think I can sum that up. If it comes from Australia, it’s getting dearer. If it comes from China, it’s getting cheaper.

The report then goes on to say that overall, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is up 19.1%, but remember this is over 5 years. Allowing for compound interest, that’s a wee smidge over a 3.5% increase per annum.

Not so bad when you put it like that, is it?

It strikes me that there are only two or possibly three areas that are rampantly out of control. Obviously, that’s the top three, electricity gas and water, public transport and insurance.

  • Electricity and gas comes from coal, Queensland has a lot of coal. The Queensland Government assists energy development through the Department of Mines and Energy.
  • Queensland Urban Utilities (water) are jointly owned by five local councils of Brisbane, Ipswich, Scenic Rim, Lockyer Valley and Somerset.
  • As for public transport,TransLink is the authority introduced by the Queensland Government in June 2003 as a section of Queensland Transport to coordinate and integrate rail, bus and ferry services.

Doesn’t this mean that the buck stops with our pollies?

And if the government helped out more in times of national disasters like cyclones, floods and fires, then maybe insurances wouldn’t be so steep.

And the politicians say….

In Queensland:

Anna Bligh, current Premier of Queensland on the shockingly high prices of electricity here as compared with Victoria, said it was obvious that electricity would be dearer here, because Queensland is such a large state compared with “postage stamp sized Victoria“.

Ex-Lord Mayor Campbell Newman, now hoping to challenge Mr Bligh as Premier of Queensland, although he is not yet an MP as far as I am aware because Kate Jones is still the MP of Ashgrove the seat Mr Newman hopes to win although it is very complicated as he gets described as the LNP leader it’s a long story that I won’t bore you with but if anyone out there does understand it and can explain it to me I would appreciate it said of these rising prices “if elected we will freeze car registration fees during the entire first term of Government“.

And nationally:

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says “We are fighting to price carbon to tackle climate change and to build a clean energy economy which is prepared and strong“.

Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition says “the carbon tax is economic vandalism“.

I think, in the very near future, a couple of blokes will be holding the doors open for a couple of women as they leave the building. Because the government appears to have got us into this, and government should get us out. But Anna Bligh and Julia Gillard aren’t the gals to do it.

Note: Hark at me; I don’t even have a vote yet!

The full report.

At the time of writing, the report was available for download directly by going to the homepage of qcoss and clicking on the banner similar to the one on the right.
qcoss report

It’s a 16 page report and makes very interesting reading, especially for those of you planning to move to Australia and wanting a rough idea of how much you will need each week to get by.

The exchange rate.

Finally, I did say earlier that we would put aside the exchange rate for now. That’s because I believe the exchange rate has nothing to do with the cost of living in Australia. What we earn in Australia, as an average hourly, weekly or even yearly, is what we use to pay for our stuff here.

If you are coming here on holiday using money you earned in a different country, then yes, the exchange rate is everything. But for Australians here living in Australia and earning Australian dollars, the exchange rate means nothing.

So I believe in the hard yakka, and if you haven’t already, you can read about the hard yakka here.

Finally finally…

On a lighter note, I’ve just got back from a booze run to the bottle-o. A case of 30 cans of my Castlemaine XXXX Bitters, $34.80. My wife’s favourite bottle of wine, $6.90. That’s about as cheap as those two booze items have been (30% off wine offers excluded) since I arrived 3 1/2 years ago.

As those are the only items I generally shop for…… cost of living crisis, what cost of living crisis?

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Mark Turner November 17, 2013, 8:59 am | Link

    Wine equalisation tax ? Maybe their should be an Automobile equalisation Tax to save the car industry too.

    • BobinOz November 18, 2013, 4:33 pm | Link

      Not sure Mark, but I think we already have a Automobile Equalisation Tax, probably not called that, but does the same thing and heavily taxes foreign imported cars. As I say though, I only ‘think’ this is the case, maybe someone else can confirm?

  • Rupert May 26, 2011, 6:29 pm | Link

    I would like the Aussie government to abolish the ‘Wine Equalisation Tax’. It is a “current market value” super-tax in addition to the usual Import Duty in order to discourage people drinking wines that come from other countries. This adds up to a 49% tax per bottle of wine that arrives in Australia.

    For example, let’s say I wanted to bring in a case of 2000 Chateau Beychevelle, which in 2001 would have cost me £200. As it is now worth £1200, I would have to declare it to the authorities and pay £600 (i.e $1500) just to bring it into Australia! I would even have to do that with Australian wines that I bought from UK merchants. It’s utterly preposterous.

    I can understand and am willing to pay Import Duty, of course. The UK government charges about £20 per case, irrespective of the ‘value’ of the wine inside, but I am now in the throes of having to sell my beloved collection, or having to store it in the UK while I wait for the Australian government to change its protectorate and narrow-minded policy.

    I love Australian wines and will be seeking out the best, but the thought of not being able to drink Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rioja, Barollo, Mosel Rieslings, Tokaji etc etc without paying extortionate prices for them makes me very sad indeed.

    • BobinOz May 27, 2011, 5:03 pm | Link

      I feel your pain Rupert, nothing worse than having to leave good quality alcohol behind when you move to Australia.

      Even if the government chooses not to overhaul the whole wine tax thing, surely they could make an exception for the people who are moving here permanently, especially as they have already paid some hefty fees to the government to secure their visas. If it’s for personal use, a much lower tax would surely be in order.

      I had quite a healthy booze cabinet back in England, and I stupidly mentioned to my mates that I was struggling to get through all of the tequila before my rapidly approaching migration. Bless them all, my last birthday before I departed they all bought me more bottles of tequila.

      That’s what friends are for, I suppose.

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