ABC AM with David Lipson
10 May 2023
DAVID LIPSON: The Opposition is dubious about some parts of the budget. Senator James Hume is the Shadow Finance Minister, Jane Hume. Thanks for your time welfare groups say there's not enough support in this budget. Some economists have suggested the spending that is there will add to inflation. Does that mean the government's got the balance right?
JANE HUME: Well, in fact, we think that this is a traditional labor big spending, big taxing budget. It actually offers very little for, for most Australians, and, in fact, our real concern is that it potentially will make inflation worse, driving up the cost of living for all Australians. We know that, prior to the election, Anthony Albanese said that no Australian was going to be left behind but this budget leaves the majority of Australians behind particularly because if you can't slay that inflation dragon, if you can't get inflation under control, well then the RBA has to do all the heavy lifting by pushing up interest.
DAVID LIPSON: So should there have been more targeted support for middle Australia for the everyday Australians?
JANE HUME: It's families with a mortgage that are really doing it tough. You know, I Chair the Cost of Living Committee. We've been hearing from food charities that the people that are turning up and asking for their services for the first time now are often dual income people that often have a mortgage. They said to us that the most important thing that the government can do is reduce interest rates. The only way you can reduce interest rates is to reduce inflation. The only way you can reduce inflation is to get spending under control. Otherwise you're simply asking the RBA to do all the hard work and that seems to be what this budget is doing.
DAVID LIPSON: So will you then oppose the increases to JobSeeker, the bulk billing incentives, the energy bill relief that the government has put forward?
JANE HUME: Well, we will take all of those policies through natural processes. We're going to make sure that goes through the backbench in the party room. But we'll assess them at that stage. But I can tell you now that there are things in this budget that we certainly wouldn't have done. We wouldn't have, for instance, taxed farmers or truckies, potentially pushing up the price. of groceries even further. There's an additional 10,000, 10,000 new public servants just in this last 12 months alone. That is a big spending commitment by this government. And there's also taxes on tourism and tourism operators by the overseas freight that overseas movement shows the passenger movement charge. So we've got concerns about that. And on top of that, is forecasting an additional 1.5 million new net migration. Now that's including this year, certainly but that at the same time if there's a housing crisis at the same time as you're cutting or delaying infrastructure, we think that's actually going to put more pressure on Australians and in fact, reduce the standard of migration. Well, we certainly make sure that we have a controlled and managed migration program that has to be supported by those infrastructure investments by opening up housing supply by improving energy supply sources, to make sure that you're not simply pushing up prices further and reducing standards of living.
DAVID LIPSON: The government's centerpiece self described is the GP bulk billing incentives. You got to wave that through.
JANE HUME: Well, we were very pleased to see more opportunities for bulk billing, but let's face it, if you're if you're over 16, or if you're not on a concession card, this doesn't apply to you and I think that there's going to be a lot of misunderstanding that the benefit he goes to the doctors, not to the patient
DAVID LIPSON: So you’d like to see more spending in that space?
JANE HUME: I think we'd like to see a better targeted support to make sure that our health system working for all.
DAVID LIPSON: If you want one for all Australians, not just concession card holders and under 16, that's going to cost more.
JANE HUME: We'll assess the policy and see how it works. But quite frankly, I think that Australians expected a little bit more.
DAVID LIPSON: Will the opposition put forward an actual policy alternative on Thursday night's budget reply?
JANE HUME: Well, I won't preempt what it is that Peter Dutton is going to say suffice to say that we are acutely conscious that working Australians middle Australians families that are doing it tough families with a mortgage are probably the overlooked Australians in this budget that you know, unless you're on welfare unless you're got a child unless you're under 16. There isn't really all that much in this for you and unless they really should have been the focus of the last opportunity in this government in this budget for those middle Australians too.
DAVID LIPSON: Jane Hume, thanks for your time.
JANE HUME: Great to be with you.