The 20th Cost of Living Report released by the Northern Territory Council of Social Service (NTCOSS) shows that the cost of fuel is up and rent is down, and highlights areas of financial pressure that many NT families continue to face.

The Report reveals that household expenses like petrol costs (+6.7%), hospital and medical services (+4.3%), gas and other household fuels (4.1%) and insurance 3.9% have all risen in the Darwin over the past year.

Regional data also confirms that petrol costs have increased across all regions in the NT.

There has been a slight increase in the generic CPI for Darwin (+1.0%), in contrast to the increase in the national CPI (+1.9%) over the past year.

Jonathan Pilbrow, NTCOSS Policy Adviser said,
“It is a concerning that prices in many critical expenditure areas have risen well above the rate of the generic CPI figure for Darwin and nationally figure

“But there have been decreases in some categories in the past year – audio, visual and computing equipment (-10.2%), vegetables (-8.5%) and rent prices (-6.0%) are down

“The CPI rent decrease is welcome relief for some, particularly given that rent prices in Darwin have been historically high and many rental households have experienced housing stress”.

This rent decrease has also occurred in Palmerston and Katherine, but in Alice Springs rent prices have actually increased over the past year.

The NTCOSS Report also highlights that for people on the lowest incomes (Newstart, Youth Allowance), the rise in the cost of living has outstripped the rise in their payments. This is a particular issue for sole parents with children.

People on these payments in the NT are hit with a ‘triple whammy’:

  • Their payments are between $170 and $220 lower than a pension (and indexed at a lower rate than pensions);
  • They are faced with the very high NT living costs (such as food, rent), compared to the rest of the country; and,
  • They are also ineligible for concessions (such as for electricity) to ease cost of living pressure, which are available to health care card holders elsewhere in the country

NTCOSS is also concerned that some groups formerly eligible for the previous NT Pensioner Carer Concession Scheme – i.e. Low-Income Health Care Card holders, people on Carers Allowance, will not be eligible for the new NT Concession Scheme because of new eligibility criteria.

NTCOSS believes that further reforms around eligibility are warranted.

In addition, NTCOSS, along with the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), calls on the Federal Government to raise the Newstart rate by at least $75 per week.  This increase would work towards easing cost of living pressures on many low-income people and families.

Read the NTCOSS Cost of Living Report No. 20
Read the report Concessions Fact Sheet
Read the report Fuel Fact Sheet