Originally published in The Ararat Advocate and Pyrenees Advocate on 28 June 2024.

July 1 is an important day for our community.

From next week, Victorians will receive a raft of cost-of-living assistance implemented by the Albanese Labor Government, starting with a tax cut for every taxpayer.

Workers in regional and rural Victoria will receive an average tax cut of $1,441 and 884,000 people in these areas will receive a larger tax cut under Federal Labor.

This means Victorian workers will keep more of what they earn.

In addition to these tax cuts, the Albanese Government will provide a $300 energy rebate to every household to help make power bills more affordable, while one million small businesses will receive $325.

This will make a real difference to people, and the rebate will be automatically applied in quarterly instalments by energy providers.

This assistance complements other cost-of-living measures the Albanese Government is putting in place, including a pay rise for low-paid workers and a freeze on PBS medicines.

Across Australia, 2.6 million workers will receive their third consecutive pay rise backed by the Government – also from July 1.

In fact, over the three Annual Wage Review decisions since Federal Labor came to office in 2022, the wages of low-paid workers have increased by $143.30 per week and by $7,451.60 per year.

Victorians will continue having access to cheaper medicines, with no one to pay more than $31.60 thanks to a freeze on the maximum cost of a PBS medicine for the next 12 months.

Pensioners and concession card holders won’t pay more than $7.70 for their PBS medications for the next five years.

Importantly, Federal Labor has approved extra funding for 201 new and amended listings on the PBS since July 2022, including for breast cancer, lung cancer and cardiac disease.

The Albanese Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme will also increase from July 1, from 20 to 22 weeks, on the way to 26 weeks by 2026.

Having strong paid parental leave provides more support for working families and advances women’s economic security.

As we reach the midway point of 2024, the Albanese Government’s number one priority continues to be the cost of living. We understand Australians are doing it tough and our Budget helps people under pressure right now.

The tax cuts, energy bill relief, pay rise, cheaper medicines and the extension of paid parental leave will go a long way to easing some of that pressure.