Bread prices are down 4.5 per cent, breakfast cereals down 8.6 per cent, fresh chicken down 2.6 per cent, dairy prices down 8.2 per cent, milk down 15.2 per cent, eggs down 0.6 per cent, jam and honey down 0.7 per cent and coffee, tea and cocoa down 1.8 per cent. These are significant falls in day to day items.
But the price declines since 2009 are not just for many food items.
Clothes prices have dropped 13.7 per cent, shoes are down 10.1 per cent, furniture down 1.5 per cent, household textiles down 18.7 per cent, household appliances down 8.7 per cent, personal care products down 10.9 per cent, motor vehicles down 8.1 per cent, communications down 13.4 per cent, audio visual and computers down 44.3 per cent, international holidays down 0.8 per cent, sporting equipment down 2.6 per cent and games and toys down 17.7 per cent.
Remember, these price falls are at a time when wages are up 28 per cent.
This goes to show that consumers are benefitting from falling prices for many goods and services, even though electricity prices have skyrocketed.
Which makes the intense policy focus of the government on electricity prices a great example of over-reach. It is magnifying a problem out of all proportion.
But let’s pretend for a moment the government gets the energy companies to drop electricity prices for consumers by 10 per cent.
The average electricity bill will drop by $3.50 a week. In the context of overall household spending, it is small beer. It is a saving that will be gobbled up by an extra coffee or a price hike on the beef and black bean and fried rice at the local Chinese restaurant.
Senior government ministers are incredibly busy and have limited time to devote to policy issues.
With the Prime Minister, Treasurer and the government spending countless hours working out how to trim a few lousy dollars off electricity bills, other policy areas are falling by the wayside. Householders know this, which may help to explain the parlous poll position of the Morrison government with the electorate.
Electricity prices just aren’t that important when wages, education, health care, the environment, aged care, poverty and a host of other areas are causing genuine concern.