CHRIS SMITH: I'm Chris Smith doing my best for Peta Credlin tonight. Good to have your company. Now one of the unwritten licenses, you could call it new governments, are given in the first week in parliament is the right to bash up the previous government for everything the new government inherited, except for the good stuff. Of course, with inflation, rising debt and power prices soaring up. Labour did plenty of the bashing this week. But as Peta pointed out last night on the program, that old chestnut can't last forever. Sooner or later, the government needs to tell us their plans and what they intend to do about the number one issue. Forget about everything else they put on the table this week; that number one issue is the cost of living. To discuss this and more, we're joined now by Shadow Finance Minister Senator Jane Hume. Jane, thank you very much for your time. That first week in Parliament on the opposition benches can be very sobering. How did you cope with the constant flogging?
JANE HUME: Well, I was actually watching from a distance this week, Chris; I'm afraid I was in isolation with COVID. I was watching on; I know, who would have thought I missed all the action, except there I was, it was actually quite a strange perspective to be able to talk to my colleagues, watch question time and see it as a participant, but also, you know, with some distance and perspective, too. And yes, of course, it was a tough week, you know, there's understandably going to be an incredible amount of hubris in a new government. But I think what was most disappointing and indeed most telling this week was the statement by the treasurer about the state of the economy. Because, as you said, it was big on rhetoric, there was an awful lot of finger pointing, there was an awful lot of boohooing about how hard his job is that there was nothing, there was no plan to reduce the cost of living to reduce those power bills to rein in inflation, which, of course, is the big issue of the day. And I think that that was a great disappointment. Instead, we saw in this first week of Parliament the true priorities of this new Labour government, unwinding the ABCC, which has been so effective and reining in militant unions. And now we hear of all strange things, to decide to target the Lord's prayer at the beginning of a Senate setting session, which is quite extraordinary. I don't think that they're the priorities of real Australians, of ordinary Australians. The priorities of real Australians are reducing those power bills, making sure that the price at the bowser goes down or is manageable, at least, and of course that the price of groceries is affordable for ordinary Australians.
SMITH: Yeah, you're right. I think the public will get sick of the blame game. They can use this for a few weeks more probably. After that, the public will want to say, " Well, hang on, put your money where your mouth is; what will you do about it?" I think he did right now, and the newbie independents had plenty to say this week about diversity, climate change, about having a mandate for local representation over party politics. Goldstein, Zoe Daniel says, it's a system of party politics that's entirely out of date. What do you say about that?
HUME: I don't agree with Zoe Daniel at all on this. Although I was heartened to watch so many of those maiden speeches from right across the parliament. Listening to my new colleague and Victorian friend Aaron Violi talking about how so much of what he's bringing to Panama was forged in the fires of the Black Saturday bushfires here in Victoria in his seat of Casey or listening to Jacinta Price talking about her mission to make sure that alcohol-fueled violence against indigenous communities is reduced. You know, also those from the other side, I listened to Sally Sitou, who's the new member for Reid, talking about how she was giving her maiden speech as a Chinese woman on the 40th anniversary of her parent's Australian citizenship after coming to Australia as refugees, I thought that was very moving, very moving indeed. The good thing is when you hear these new members of parliament come and give their maiden speeches, give their first speeches, you know, you understand the perspective that they're bringing in from where they come from. While there are many things in those two chambers that divide us, and party politics is only one of them, what unites us is everybody in there is a patriot, and they are there because they want to see a better country, a better Australia. So there are good parts to a first week in Parliament as well.
SMITH: Just returning to one point you made a little earlier. You always know when a new bunch takes over because just about everything traditional is in question, including, as you mentioned, the Lord's Prayer. Thankfully, that didn't last too long.
HUME: No, I'm very glad that it didn't. Look, I'm not a particularly religious person. I fundamentally believe in the separation of church and state, which is an important tenant of our democracy. But each day when I'm in the Senate, and we recite the Lord's Prayer, I shut my eyes and listen to the words. Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil. These are really important words; they mean something. I would just love it if the Greens and Labor and those who want to do away with the Lord's Prayer would spend a little bit more time thinking about what they're saying rather than dismissing 120 years of history. For the sake of change.
SMITH: I agree. Finally, I want to talk to you about Victoria. Victorians also heard what the ombudsman thought of the red shirts fiasco this week. Now while the Premier was found to have been involved and immersed in the scandal, he was not found to be aware of the rort, but surely the Andrews government will face a few fiery baseball bats in the upcoming state election, don't you think?
HUME: You would think so. I mean, we know the integrity Commission has seen the end of careers of premiers before, over a bottle of wine. Yet Daniel Andrews has presided over a party since 2010, He's been premier since 2014. This was systemic corruption that was endemic in the Victorian Labour Party. He was the captain of the ship throughout this entire time. Yet somehow, while he said I accept responsibility, and I'm sorry, he also believes that he is the best one to institute change. I cannot see that happening. I think the Victorian people have had enough of this authoritarian government that never accepts responsibility for its own failures. This is just symbolic of so many other things that have gone wrong in the Victorian government over the last few years. I think in November they're going to get a real surprise.
SMITH: All right. Enjoy yourself in Canberra next week, Jane. Thank you for your time.