How Jacinta Allan plans to tackle the problem that’s hurting Victorians most
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Cost of living pressures are expected to be a key focus for new Premier Jacinta Allan, pitching herself as a leader who will deliver for households feeling financial pain.
Moments after being endorsed as the state’s leader, Allan made multiple references to working families while describing her values and her policy priorities.
Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan on Thursday.Credit: Con Chronis
On Thursday, she expanded on this, acknowledging that cost of living was an issue that needed addressing.
“Working families are who I’ve come from,” Allan said.
“We are all hearing about how many families are working through those challenges of the consequence if multiple interest rate rises that we’ve been experiencing over the last year or so.
“In terms of policy settings and thinking about the work at hand, that is something that we will be focusing on.”
Cost of living pressures have been identified as a key issue for the new premier.Credit: Dion Georgopoulos
Allan said reforms announced last week to address the housing crisis were a big part of this agenda.
But she said other areas the state government targeted hip pockets was through school programs and public health services.
Last week, then-premier Daniel Andrews hinted that the government could announce a fifth round of its power saving bonus, which provides $250 to households that use the government’s bill comparison website.
In education, the state has continued its school breakfast program and this month extended its school tutor scheme until the end of 2025.
Three government employees, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the details publicly, told The Age that prior to Andrews departure there had been discussions about delivering new cost-of-living improvements.
The focus, they said was on education because it provided a direct link between government policy and family budgets.
Resolve director Jim Reed said most people were touched by the rising cost of living, making it a no-brainer for politicians to look at.
The pollster said that when his firm had last polled Victorians about their top issue, 46 per cent of them named cost of living or housing costs.
“Basically, it equals all other issues combined,” Reed said. “It has been that way for about five months.”
Allan emerges from the Labor caucus meeting after being elected Victoria’s new premier.Credit: Jason South
But Reed cautioned that the public wanted to see governments address the problem carefully; prioritising spending, cutting waste and inefficiencies, rather than simply throwing their taxes at the problem.
“People are being frugal with their own pay packets, careful with their own bank balances, and they expect governments do the same,” he said.
Allan also rejected calls to shelve or scrap the $34.5 billion Suburban Rail Loop and said Victorians had voted for the project twice by electing Labor in 2018 and 2022.
“We are committed to this project because of the transformation it is going to bring to Melbourne’s rail system that in turn is all about helping people get better access to jobs, to services and education opportunities,” she said.
Allan said she would be briefed by her department in the coming days and would not outline other policy priorities until after this process had been completed.
When asked whether any policies would come under review, Allan said she intended to deliver commitments from 2022 election.
“In coming weeks and months, as we swear in a new cabinet and continue to consult with colleagues and the Victorian community, there will be the opportunity to further build on that program,” she said.
“The approach that I will take will be built on that consultation with colleagues and the community that has been a hallmark of every one of 24 years that I’ve been a proud member of parliament.”
Opposition Leader John Pesutto called on Allan to release more information on the Suburban Rail Loop and whether it provided value for money.
“We want the new premier to show that she’s different to the previous premier, and that she will open those books,” he said.
“Yesterday was an opportunity for real change … Today sadly we’re not going to get that.”
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