The Victorian Greens have called on the Victorian Labor Government to prioritise housing affordability and wages in its State Budget this year to help ease the financial pressure on people across the state.
While Victorians made it through nearly two years of rolling lockdowns, the financial impacts of the pandemic continue to be felt with rising rental costs, flatlining wages and rapidly increasing day-to-day expenses putting an immense financial strain on many Victorians.
That’s why in this year’s Budget the Greens want to see:
- The introduction of a cap on rent increases of 2.5%. Rents are rising rapidly again after the last two years, while wages have flatlined. For more and more Victorians, rent is taking a bigger proportion out of their income leaving them having to make difficult choices.
- Abolishing the public services wages cap. Low wage growth is hurting workers and is one of the biggest economic issues our society is facing. The Victorian Government is deliberately suppressing wages and hurting the economy with its 1.5% public sector wages cap.
- Making public transport free for all. Temporarily making our public transport network free for Victorians would help mitigate rising fuel prices and encourage clean and sustainable transport use. NSW, NZ and Tasmania have all done this.
- Debt relief for low-income earners. Many Victorians racked up utility debt during COVID as a result of loss-of-income and other financial stress. Providing debt relief as proposed by VCOSS could make a world of difference.
Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell, said that the pandemic had hit our communities hard with living standards at risk of going backwards with wage stagnation and cost-of-living going through the roof, with housing a particular stressor.
Increasing housing costs are putting enormous pressure on many Victorians yet the government ditched its plan for a social housing levy to help pay for more affordable housing into the future.
When the Federal Government handed down its Budget last week there was also nothing to improve housing affordability - which is why the State Government must step in and cap rents to support renters doing it tough and commit to an ongoing big build of public and affordable housing. The ban on rent increases during the pandemic shows it can be done.
The Government must also scrap the public services wages cap. Low wage growth entrenches inequality, which is why it was so disappointing to see the State Government contributing to stagnant wages with a public sector wage cap of 1.5%, significantly less than inflation. After so many essential workers helped us get through the pandemic, the least this Government could do is thank them with higher wages and secure jobs.
And with petrol prices soaring, the Greens want to see public transport made free temporarily, as has been done in other jurisdictions like NSW and Tasmania, to save Victorians money while encouraging them to use more sustainable and environmentally friendly modes of transport.
Quotes attributable to Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell MP:
“Prices are rising, rents are rising, and housing is totally unaffordable. The Federal Government’s Budget had virtually nothing to make housing more affordable, so we need the Victorian State Government to step in with some significant reforms so that Victorians can keep a roof over their heads and rein in the sky-rocketing cost of living.
“The Greens are calling on the Victorian Labor Government to introduce laws to put a cap on rents, to help lift wages across Victoria by scrapping their ridiculous ‘wage cap’ for public sector workers, to make public transport temporarily free, and to provide debt relief for low-income earners.
“These are simple things the Victorian State Government could do right now to help Victorians with the cost of living and they should be in the upcoming state Budget in May.”