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Crisis? What crisis?

Opinion

Crisis? What crisis?

Jane Stephens points out that our current hip-pocket pain is nowhere to be seen as we continue to indulge in life’s little and big luxuries.

The cost-of-living crisis has been spelt out and analysed from all angles. It is the background music of our time.

Two years of high inflation and rising interest rates have slashed spending power. A stroll down any supermarket aisle will provide evidence that prices are up and a comparison of quarterly amenities bills will show the reasons for our hip-pocket pain.

But the cost-of-living crisis – better known by the Macquarie Dictionary’s term of the year ‘cozzie livs’ – is not biting for everyone. As always seems to be the case, those who were just scraping by a few years ago are those worse off now. The poor are poorer. But there are plenty who seem to be continuing to enjoy life’s little and large luxuries. It is easy to believe there is no cozzie livs crisis at all.

A Sunshine Coast hinterland pub in a lower socio-economic area on Sunday was packed. Beer at $8+ a pop was flowing, meals at $20+ were being ordered by queuing masses.

Brisbane Broncos games are sold out, and most people part with close to $100 for the privilege – and that is before they line up for the famously-expensive drinks and eats. Suncorp Stadium seats more than 50,000 people, so the money is flowing freely there.

Fish and chipperies have queues out the door on Friday nights. My favourite coffee shop is chockers most mornings. The local cafes are packed at weekends and many other days besides. More than half of all adult Australians bought a ticket in the recent $160 million Powerball draw, and throwing money we apparently do not have for two chances of success – slim and none, and slim has left town.

Is it possible that all this talk about cozzie livs has been overblown, or at least is not quite the omnipresent issue politicians continually paint it to be?

Maybe. The latest RBA stats show the average weekly earning in Australia is $1432.60 and only three per cent of wages are saved. Stats also show we are spending up big, with recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing our household spending is up 3.6 per cent on last year.

The Commonwealth Bank says those over 65 are spending well above the inflation rate – spending literally like there is no tomorrow. Cozzie livs? For some, the phenomenon is as made up as the words.

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Jane Stephens is a USC journalism lecturer, media commentator and writer.

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