Politicians frequently talk about the cost-of-living pressures facing Australians but new figures suggest the reality could be something quite different.
Indeed, if you thought the latest inflation figures were benign, actual cost of living pressures are even more subdued.
That’s according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics “selected living cost indexes” released on Wednesday which gauge how much after tax incomes need to change to allow different types of households to purchase the same quantity of consumer goods in a given period.
For workers the cost of living rose 0.4 per cent in the June quarter for a mere 0.9 per cent over the year.
Last week’s consumer price index rose 0.7 per cent in the same three months for an annual rate of 1.5 per cent.
For aged pensioners the living cost index was a tad higher than workers, rising 0.6 per cent in the June quarter.
The report assumes this group was more affected by higher transport costs over the quarter, while bearing a greater burden of rising health costs.
However, on an annual basis costs rose 0.9 per cent, the same as workers.
Self-funded retiree households endured a more subdued 0.4 per cent as they are seen benefiting more from a decline in the costs of recreational and cultural activities, but over the year living costs were the highest at 1.2 per cent growth, but still below inflation.
However, at the end of the day cost-of-living pressures are in the eyes of the beholder.
And it’s unlikely that any politician is about to quote the words of former British prime minister Harold Macmillan, who said in a 1957: “Let us be frank about it, most of our people have never had it so good.”
But Employment Minister Eric Abetz seized on the data, saying it should be taken into account in the latest round of public sector workplace bargaining.
“Despite the current low inflation environment, the Community and Public Sector Union was pursuing a claim for a 12 per cent wage increase over three years, which was totally out of touch with Australia’s current economic circumstances,” Senator Abetz said in a statement.