Interview with Danica De Giorgio, AM Agenda on Sky News
28 September 2022
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Joining me now live is the Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume. Thanks for joining us this morning. Labor is saying that their budget is looking healthy. How do you think that they can keep it that way without spending cuts to keep their promises?
JANE HUME: Well, Danica, what we do know the final budget outcome will come out today. What we do know is that the Coalition left the economy in good shape. There was unemployment with a three in front of it. Triple A credit rating maintained. We left the budget in an improving position. In fact, they found an additional $50 billion dollars that's been banked to the budget bottom line for the year prior to the one that was leaving government. And on top of that, with that inheritance, the only message that Jim Chalmers seems to have for the Australian people is that he is going to continue to tax and spend now we don't think that this is the appropriate response to the economic problems, particularly the cost of living crisis that Australians are facing right now. We know that the fuel excise is coming off this week. That was a policy that was put in place by the Coalition Government in March of this year. It was temporary, it was targeted, and it was aimed at reducing the cost of living for Australians in the circumstances at the time when petrol prices were particularly high. And while that comes off this week, we know that more Australians are going to feel not just the pressure at the browser, but also at the grocery checkout, when they're paying off their mortgages, when they're paying their energy bills. And the government doesn't seem to have a plan to address the cost of living crisis that's facing Australians right now. Budgets are all about priorities. This government's priorities seem to be askew. Australians want to talk about the cost of living whereas the Labour government seems to want to talk about their agenda.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: All right, you mentioned the cut to the fuel excise. It of course ends tonight, given the current pressures on households should it have been extended?
JANE HUME: Well, when we put that policy in place, it was temporary and it was targeted, and that was intentionally so because that was the issue of the day. Now, I don't know what information the Labour government has. We're not privy to that Treasury advice. That's something I think that we will pursue at Estimates, what Treasury has been telling this Labor Government about whether they should maintain or get rid of the fuel excise cut. But more importantly, what we'd like to see is a holistic plan to deal with the cost of living crisis in Australia because it's only going to get worse, particularly in the lead up to Christmas. As interest rates rise and those repayments from those rising interest rates kick in. The most important thing here is that if you don't have a plan, you plan to fail. So we really want the Government to succeed in this because the cost of failure is way too high. If you don't have a plan to deal with rising interest rates, if you don't have a plan to deal with rising inflation, if you don't have a plan to deal with rising energy bills and if you don't have a plan to deal with rising cost of living. Well, the cost of failure is so great for all Australians.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Let's talk about NACC legislation. The Federal Government unveiled the details of its proposed independent anti-corruption commission legislation the bill introduced a short time ago. What's your initial reaction to the details and what do you make of the crossbench demands for more public hearings?
JANE HUME: Well, this is a very hefty piece of legislation. There are hundreds and hundreds of pages and obviously I haven't been through the detail with a fine tooth comb yet what I can say though, is that Peter Dutton, the Leader of the Opposition has been consulting in a very constructive way with the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to make sure that a Federal ICAC, that the NACC as it's known now, National Anti-Corruption Commission will best serve all Australians and encapture all of not just the parliament but also the public service in an entirely appropriate way. We want to make sure that the NACC is something that engenders trust in the public sphere rather than diminishes it. And that's why the appropriate safeguards need to be in place. We want to make sure that all public officials seem confident that the framework within which the anti-corruption commission operates will protect them as well as root out any corruption that is there. That's the only way that you enhance trust in the public sphere, rather than diminish it. So things like we want to make sure that the rule of law applies natural justice. What are the rules of evidence, in public hearings and in private hearings? How if you're excused, how are your legal bills funded? If you're absolved of any wrongdoing, how is that made public, are you even notified? So all of these things need to be addressed. And that's what we'll be going through in the normal course of analyzing legislation that's going to go through our party room and through the normal process, some more public hearings
DANICA DE GIORGIO: So more public hearings, do you agree with the crossbench?
JANE HUME: Well, public hearings, I know, I think you're in certain circumstances, special circumstances. I think we want to know what those special circumstances might be.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Is there anything that you think should be referred to the commission?
JANE HUME: I think that the most important thing is that we get the commission right. That's the way to engender trust, rather than diminish trust in the public sphere. We also want to make sure that we don't unnecessarily damage people's reputations, their lives and their livelihoods, their mental wellbeing. The reason why this is so important Danica is because we want to make sure that we attract the best and the brightest people to public life, whether it be in politics as a parliamentarian, or as a public official. And if there is something that would threaten their professional reputations, if it can be, if it's a system that can be politicised, well that will actually deter people from entering and public life. We want the best people here.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume, we have to leave it there. Thanks for joining us.