Doorstop in Brisbane, QLD
SOUTH BANK, BRISBANE
MONDAY, JANUARY 1 2024
SUBJECTS: Albanese Government support for Australians in 2023, taking pressure off families in 2024, cost-of-living relief, 300,000 new fee-free TAFE positions, strengthening Medicare, increased assistance for those who need it most, SEQ weather update.
MURRAY WATT: Okay, well, thank you very much for coming along today and can I wish all Australians a happy new year. It's terrific to be with you here in Brisbane on the first day of what I hope will be a really rewarding year for all Australians. We've even got a little break in the rain here in Brisbane, which is a good omen for the year ahead.
I think all Australians recognise that 2023 was a challenging year for many of us in our community, with global conflicts and other factors causing some very real pressures on cost of living and other issues facing many Australians last year. But despite that, the Albanese government worked incredibly hard over the course of last year to deliver real cost of living relief to Australians, to get wages moving again, and to make a range of improvements to Australians lives.
And that's what we'll continue working on this year, now that we've begun 2024. What I can say to all Australians is that in 2024, taking pressure off Australian families will be the number one priority for the Albanese government. Taking pressure off Australian families will be the number one priority for our government on the first day of this year, on the last day of this year, and on every day in between.
As I say, some of the measures that we've already put in place over the course of the last year have already assisted to take some of that pressure off Australians. Things like cheaper medicine, energy rebates, cheaper childcare, fee-free TAFE places, bulk billing incentives. But we know that there's a lot of Australians who are still doing it tough out there and that's why each and every day this year, we'll be working to take pressure off Australians, to take pressure off inflation, just as we have been for the last year.
And you can see that already on the first day of this year with some new measures that come into effect today. From today, we will be triggering another 300,000 fee-free TAFE places in TAFEs like this one behind me at South Bank, delivering the skills that Australians need, but also reducing the costs that they incur when they undertake that training.
From today, we'll also be lifting the rates of payments for young people, for students, for carers, by 6 per cent above the inflation rate to assist some of the most vulnerable in our community deal with the cost-of-living pressures that so many of them have been experiencing. We'll also, from today, be making changes to the age pension, which allow pensioners to work more hours without losing their pension. And, of course, those measures that we began last year, like bulk billing incentives and other things, will continue rolling through over the course of the year as well.
So, as you can see, this year, 2024, taking pressure off Australians will be the number one priority for the Albanese government each and every day this year. And in the meantime, we'll get on with our other priorities, like strengthening Medicare, like building a future made in Australia, and also by continuing to make sure that we secure our position in the world.
I might just, before taking questions, just also just add a little bit about the weather situation we continue to face here in south-east Queensland. We were talking just before we started about the fact that this Christmas has been a pretty wild weather season here in Queensland, and unfortunately, that is not about to end immediately.
Today, the Bureau of Meteorology has again issued warnings for severe thunderstorms, particularly in the Gold Coast, northern Gold Coast and the Mount Tamborine area. There is a risk of heavy rainfall and flash flooding across parts of south-east Queensland, in particular around the Gold Coast and also northern New South Wales as well.
So, as I've done every single day over the last couple of weeks, I encourage all Australians to stay across the bureau's warnings. They're there for a reason, to give you information about what you can do to prepare for some very unpredictable events, to keep your families safe and your properties safe as well.