The lucky country has become the expensive country as everyday Australians struggle to keep up with a soaring cost of living – with prices mounting on everything thing from cigarettes and alcohol to petrol, groceries, and council rates.
This week petrol hit almost $1.70 a litre, putting even more pressure on strained family budgets already reeling from a 50 per cent surge in power prices, 34 per cent jump in rents, and ballooning costs for day-to-day groceries.
A rump roast now costs $23 a kilogram in supermarkets, up from $19 seven years ago, while 500g of butter has risen from $4.20 to $5.70.
Taxes imposed on so-called luxuries have driven meteoric rises in the cost of cigarettes, with a pack now setting smokers back a whopping $40 packet, while a carton of VB costs more than $50.
With living costs spiraling out of control, the nation’s total credit card bill has blown out to $51.6 billion, according to the Reserve Bank.
And more Australians are crying out for help, with 120,000 calls made to the National Debt Helpline in the past eight months – up from 115,000 the previous year.
Making matters worse, wages have stagnated since 2012 to the point where they have barely kept pace with inflation – and some years have actually left average worker worse off.
The after-tax income of an average household fell from $1,029 a week in 2013-14, to $1,009 a week in 2015-16, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Petrol this week hit its highest price in 10 years, peaking at $1.67 at many stations – nearly double the 87.3c national average in 2002.
Even when adjusted for inflation, that represents an almost 25 per cent increase after a series of price hikes only halted by the GFC.
Fluctuations in global crude oil prices were mostly to blame, but Australians pay a whopping 40.3c per litre in fuel excise, plus 10 per cent GST.
About 16 per cent of the cost is made up by wholesale and retail costs of distributing the petrol and operating thousands of stations around the country.
Supermarkets about a decade ago started handing out 4c vouchers if you spent enough in store, but the rebate has not increased in line with fuel costs.
Electricity bills generally rose along with CPI until a decade ago when they suddenly shot up to become some of the most expensive in the world.
Charges vary wildly between states with South Australia the most expensive at 43.17c per megawatt hour, followed by NSW on 39.01c/kWh.
The average across the country is about 31c to 35c, up from 19.38c in 2010 and 24.8c in 2012, according to the Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics.
The ABS indexation showed a rise of 117.4 per cent since 2008, now costing an average of $35.05 a week in household bills.
Gas is a similar story though not as extreme – rising 89.2 per cent in the past decade.
Water has also gone up significantly, costing a national average of $3.08 a kilolitre in 2016, up 86.4 per cent.
Families used to get away with less than $100 for a weekly shopping trip a decade ago but it now runs well into triple figures just for basic essentials.
Rumps steak costs $23 a kilogram in supermarkets, but in 2011 cost just $19, while 500g of butter rose from $4.20 to $5.70.
Fish also got more expensive, rising from about $3.40 to $4.20 for a 210g can of pink salmon.
Australia’s proud drinking tradition is also far more expensive than ever, and new taxes pushed by health advocates could soon make it even worse.
Even seven years ago a 24-bottle carton of full-strength beer cost about $44 in today’s money, but Victoria Bitter is now on sale for $59 – up about 34 per cent.
Beer on tap is no better, jumping from an average of $7.50 a pint in Sydney to often more than $10, and $8.80 in Perth to at least $11, according to ABS figures.
Before that, draught beer jumped by a quarter between 2005 and 2010 and a slab rose about 15 per cent.
Those enjoying a cigarette with their pint have been slugged with successive government tax hikes in a bid to slash smoking rates.
Taxes rose 12.5 per cent at the beginning of the month, as they did last year and will do again in both 2019 and 2020.
A pack of Winfield 25s cost about $15 in 2010 but are now on sale for well over the double the price at $33.50 in IGA supermarkets.
Australia’s property boom has made home ownership unaffordable for vast numbers of ordinary families, especially in major cities.
Sydney bore the brunt of the boom, with the median house price tripling from about $428,000 in 1998, adjusted for inflation, to more than $1.15 million.
Prices fell after the GFC but exploded from about $644,000 in 2011 to almost double – jumping by 25 per cent in 2015 alone.
Other capital cities haven’t reached the millionaire heights of Sydney but still saw enormous hikes, like from about $611,000 to $914,000 in Melbourne over the past five years.
Only Perth eased up in the aftermath of the mining boom, dropping from $627,000 to $553,000, beginning at the start of 2015.
As house prices and values go up, so does rent – although it hasn’t experienced the same meteoric rise.
The average rent across Australia now sits at $115.64, according to ABS statistics, which is an increase of 34.2 per cent since 2008.
Inner-city areas have, as expected, seen the biggest jumps with a tiny, run-down two-bedroom flat in Glebe, Sydney, rented out for $500 a week last year.
Rates vary wildly across the country depending on the local council and the characteristics of an individual house so there is little historical data.
However, ABS data indicates the broad national CPI average rose 69.8 per cent since 2008, now costing homeowners $23.39 a week.
Some councils brought in huge rate increases during that time, with Hawkesbury Council in NSW raising them by 30 per cent over the next three years.
Hills Shire in northwest Sydney hiked rates in one precinct by 276 per cent last month after rezoning it, and only two council in Perth increased theirs by lass than inflation.