Cost of Electricity, Rent, and Bread All Soaring: Opposition Responds to Inflation Figures
Cost of Electricity, Rent, and Bread All Soaring: Opposition Responds to Inflation Figures

By Monica O’Shea

The federal opposition has responded to the release of Australia’s official inflation rate, at 3.4 percent, saying inflation across various sectors was much higher.

Monthly inflation figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for February showed inflation held steady on the January figures, coming in at the same level as the previous month.

But housing prices rose 4.6 percent, food and non-alcoholic drinks jumped 3.6 percent, alcohol and tobacco surged 6.1 percent, and insurance and financial services soared 8.4 percent.

“The monthly CPI indicator rose 3.4 percent in the 12 months to February, following a 3.4 percent rise in the 12 months to January,” the ABS said.

“Annual trimmed mean inflation was 3.9 percent in February, up slightly from 3.8 percent in January.”

ANZ economists Madeline Dunk and Catherine Birch said the figure was “broadly consistent” with their headline inflation forecast of a 0.5 percent rise in quarter one.

“The RBA would take comfort in the current trajectory of inflation, with inflation on track to undershoot their quarter one forecast of around 0.8 percent quarter on quarter,” Ms. Birch said in a research note to investors.

“But there are some signs that we may encounter the last mile challenge.”

Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers was upbeat about the inflation figures in Parliament on March 27 (pdf).

“Earlier today, we got news that monthly inflation was steady at 3.4 per cent. This means that monthly inflation is at its lowest level in more than two years. It also means that monthly inflation is now almost half of what we inherited when we came to office—it’s 3.4 now and was 6.1 when we came to office,” Mr. Chalmers said.

“We’re especially encouraged in today’s numbers by new analysis by the ABS, which I can share with the House [of Representatives]. Rent over the last year was 7.6 per cent—too high, but it would have been 9.2 per cent without our budget.”

Electricity, Bread, Rent Costs All Up: Opposition

Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor said the figures were a sign of the “extraordinary financial pain Australians are facing.”

He presented stats showing that since Labor came to power, bread had gone up 16.4 percent, dairy had gone up 17.6 percent, rent increased 12.1 percent, and electricity soared 16.5 percent.

Mr. Taylor expressed these numbers are stark but they won’t come as a surprise to hardworking Australians, at the coal face of Labor’s cost of living crisis.

“The Albanese Labor government is patting themselves on the back, pointing to the headline figure of 3.4 percent. But core inflation has risen to 3.9 percent,” Mr. Taylor said in a statement sent to The Epoch Times.

“The damage has been done to household budgets. Under this government, we’ve seen prices for the basic necessities like food, insurance and power, soar.”

Further ABS Commentary

The ABS also noted that the annual movement for the monthly CPI indicator, excluding volatile items and holiday travel, was 3.9 percent in February. This figure excludes fruit and vegetables, fuel, and holiday travel and accommodation.

Rents rose 7.6 percent in the 12 months to February, reflecting “strong demand for rental properties and tight rental markets.”

Fuel prices jumped 4.1 percent in February, up from 3.1 percent in January. This increase was due to greater wholesale fuel prices, according to the ABS.

The Reserve Bank of Australia board is due to consider interest rates changes on May 7.

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