On Friday, I put $20 of petrol in my car at the discount petrol station. After that, I took the kids to school, went to the supermarket and to the chemist - all within a 10-kilometre radius - and my petrol light came on. Again.
I don't know about you, but I just can't afford to live in 21st-century Australia. I think it's time to hand back my keys and organise a bond clean.
This got me thinking about the cost of living here, and just how much the past couple of years have, well, sucked. So, I did some digging.
The cost of living for a family of four in this country is estimated to be about $4798 a month, not including rent. That's just over $159 a day. Not. Including. Rent. Our cost of living is 8.44 per cent higher than that of the US.
We aren't imagining it. Things really are getting harder.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the price of automotive fuel rose 32 per cent over the course of 2021. But there are also increases impacting the bottom line that the statistics don't really see.
In our COVID-riddled world, more people are trying to avoid the shops and areas where large groups of people gather. This means people are shelling out for home-delivered groceries, and when we have takeaway we are often choosing delivery through services like Menulog and DoorDash, which hikes the price considerably. Our small luxuries are becoming big spends.
COVID changed our focus when it comes to jobs. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it led to a reshuffling of our priorities, with Hays reporting that 71 per cent of us now value job security as the top priority when it comes to employment. With petrol hitting $2 a litre in the cities, is it any wonder we want to secure our income?
I recently came across Terry Pratchett's "Boots Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness". In his 1993 novel Men at Arms, the City Watch commander, Captain Samuel Vimes, shares his thoughts on why the rich are so rich, concluding that it's because they spend less money. In summary, he says that as a captain, he earns $38 per month plus allowance. A really good pair of boots that lasts many years costs $50, but an affordable pair of boots that will last a season or so costs $10. Vimes always buys the cheaper boots, because he can afford them, and he wears them until the soles have holes in them. But over 10 years, the poor man who can only afford the cheap shoes will have spent $100 to the rich man's $50. And he'll still have wet feet.
When we have a government that doesn't know the cost of bread for the average Australian, but we are meant to trust them with economic management, it can feel like the state of affairs is just hopeless. When the government insists on people "having a go to get a go" and then only supports those who have created their own jobs if they earn over $75,000 in the middle of a pandemic; when it removes needed services from Medicare; when it hounds welfare recipients for overpayments, while not seeming to bother about $14 million in unwarranted JobKeeper payments to one of Australia's biggest retailers; it is clear that the slogan for Australia's democracy is really "by the parties, for the corporates".
So where does that leave us?
If you've been to a supermarket lately, the price of meat is somewhat staggering. Popping to the shop for a few essentials can leave you $100 poorer with not much to show for it, and that's not including any luxuries. While the Reserve Bank of Australia has kept interest rates low, talk to aged pensioners who have had their pensions diminished bit by bit over the past few years. They received two small "economic stimulus" payments between 2020 and 2021, which have been more than returned to the government in the loss to their payments.
So many of us are standing up, yelling "Help!", that the question is no longer who among us is willing to stand up for the rest. The question is, who among our "leadership" is willing to listen?
Oh, and for any pollies reading this, the cost of bread is currently around $3.40 a loaf.