Doorstop with Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor, Parliament House
Joint media release with The Hon Angus Taylor MP Shadow Treasurer
29 November 2023
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, today's inflation data confirms what Australian households already know. Is that under Labor price of everything and it continues to go up. Indeed, Labor's homegrown inflation is a tax on everything and the result that came out today, 5.3% is too high, it's simply too high. We know Australians are really suffering under continued price rises that have been extended well beyond, well beyond what was originally anticipated. We also know that Australians are facing a situation where we are back of the pack from dealing with this issue. Household disposable income has dropped by over 5% in the last four months for Australian households. That is the back of the pack amongst advanced economies. We are exactly the opposite of where we need to be and indeed our inflation rate is amongst the very highest advanced economies and it's persisted. We know now, the Reserve Bank has been telling us that they don't expect inflation, then down below three per cent for another two years. They've had to extend those forecasts supply inflation out for another year. In The Economist has told us that we've got the most of persistent inflation of any other country. At the end of the day, this is what you get. This is what you get, and the Government has the wrong priorities. And that's exactly what's happening right now. He is out of his depth and he is out of touch. We've seen his backbench in the last 24 hours tell him exactly that. We've not been on top of this inflation challenge. It is persistent. We are at the back of the pack and we need the government can take this as its most serious issue to deal with, in dealing with the incredible pain that Australians are feeling right now. And on that, I'll hand it over to Jane.
JANE HUME: Well today's inflation data told us what we already know which is that thousands of Australian families are going to be doing it really tough this Christmas. That 5.3 per cent inflation is still way too sticky. It means that inflation is going to last even higher for longer, and that means that interest rates are going to be higher for longer. Already we know that the Reserve Bank is forecasting inflation will remain outside of this target band until 2025. Now just a year ago, they were forecasting a return to that target band at the end of 2024. I think this is going to be very disappointing news for so many Australians, to know that there is still two years of pain ahead of them. And here's what we're looking for from this government is a plan. A plan to tackle inflation head on. Let's face it, inflation is caused by aggregate demand which has a private sector element and a public sector element. That private sector element, we know demand is decreasing because of those consecutive rate rises that keep hammering away at Australian families. But unfortunately, the public sector demand continues. And we've seen that in the tradeables versus non-tradeables components of inflation. This is homegrown inflation. As Angus has said, inflation is coming from Canada. It's not coming from Russia. It's not coming from the Middle East. This is something that the government has to deal with, and it seems to have raised the white flag. There is no plan to tackle inflation. And that means that Australians are going to suffer for longer under these high prices.
JOURNALIST: Is Andrew Bragg's proposal to let Australians take their money out of their super and put it into an offset account, a good idea in your mind?
ANGUS TAYLOR: That's not part of our plan, but we've been very clear we want to have more choice and that includes for housing, and that was a position we took to the last election. That remains the policy that we're supporting.
JOURNALIST: What do you make of the Reserve Bank Governor's comments that the pain people are feeling is just noise and that households are coping well with the rate rises?
ANGUS TAYLOR: I make a point of not making comments on the Reserve Bank Governor. I don't make comments about the Reserve Bank Governor. What I would say is that we are seeing on the ground every day, and we're feeling the pain that Australians are experiencing right now in making ends meet. I mean we've seen an increase in the taxes they're paying versus a year ago, and it's extraordinary those taxes. And that's been a central place in why our household disposable income dropped back by over 5% in a year. I mean if Labor had come to power and said we're going to drop your household disposable income by 5% a year, Australians would say no way, we're not for this. But that's the situation that we're facing right now. The truth is that Labor's homegrown inflation is a tax on everything and we are seeing it in all areas of the economy.
JOURNALIST: They're out of touch though right?
JOURNALIST: Shadow Treasurer, just on the RBA. The legislation to reform the bank is likely to be introduced this week. Have you given any thought to whether you will support that legislation?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, we've seen it as of this morning, so we'll take our time to have a look at it. We will work our way through it. What I will say is this, we want to see a stable Reserve Bank that puts downward pressure, downward pressure on inflation. And that means the appointment process is incredibly important. We've made this point in the last 24 hours. We don't want to see instability. We want to see downward pressure on inflation. It's taken too long and the government's wrong priorities and bad decisions are making it a whole lot harder to get inflation down than it should have be. But we need to make sure we've got a stable Reserve Bank in the process of getting inflation down.
JOURNALIST: Angus, with the appointment process, what do you see as a result if there's more of those appointments, that we saw from the Treasurer earlier this year like Elana Rubin and Iain Ross, what would be the risk I guess to the central bank that you see?
ANGUS TAYLOR: The risk is we have higher inflation for longer and that's exactly what we've been seeing. I mean, we've got a government here-
JOURNALIST: That's a result from-
ANGUS TAYLOR: We've got a government here that we know hasn't made fighting inflation is top priority. I mean, it's spent $450 million on this failed referendum. That's not helping to bring down inflation. It's had the wrong priorities. It's made bad decisions. Industrial relations legislation right now, which is not going to help bringing down inflation. The risk is, as many commentators have said, this is only going to make the situation worse. The government needs to get his priorities right. You know, it needs to make the right decisions and that will get us to the right place. Included amongst that is making sure you've got people on your Reserve Bank monetary policy board that are inflation fighters. We want to see inflation fighters. But most of all, we want inflation fighters in the government. And let me tell you this Treasurer is out of his depth and out of touch when it comes to fighting inflation.
JOURNALIST: On a separate issue the ATO has had to apologise to people over a campaign to recover on old tax debts. There are people saying this had echoes of the old Robodebt scheme about it. Do you think that was a poor campaign and how should the Tax Office collect these on hold debts?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well I haven't had time to work my way through that so I will do that. But I mean, the Tax Office has got to do the right thing like taxpayers. That's incredibly important. As does every government agency. I don't think there's any argument for that, and that is a matter of principle. I don't know if Jane has anything else to add?
JOURNALIST: Do you want to see more targeted economic relief ahead of the mid-year economic update?
ANGUS TAYLOR: You know, the greatest economic relief Australians could face, lower inflation. We've got inflation, which way too high, double the target range. Every single Australian pays the price for that. When inflation comes down too slowly, that means prices keep going up. That means prices keep going up, your pay packet worth less and less. Household disposable income is going backwards. That's the relief Australians want. And look, there's no time of year where this is more acute than now. We're going into Christmas. It's a big spending time of year for people because they've got to buy presents and holidays and all the rest of it. So it's really important, why we're here, when people put money away to make sure they're in a position where they can take on all of their families and themselves for a tough year. And yet all we're seeing is escalating prices, that's the relief Australian want.
JOURNALIST: So something like the Commonwealth Rent Assistance increase that was mentioned by the ABS today. Wouldn’t like to see that bolstered further to help lower income families?
ANGUS TAYLOR: You got to go to the source of the problem source and the source of the problem here is the rapid reduction in household disposable income. It's a symptom that inflation is running too high and it has been for a long time and it keeps going. As The Economist has told us, the most persistent of any advanced country in the world. This is the exact opposite of what we need to see. We've got a government that's not in control of the situation. We've got a government that hasn't had an effective plan to deal with it. Australians are paying a high price and as I say that price is going to be very, very obvious to Australians, it is very very obvious to Australians, as we approach Christmas.
JOURNALIST: Jane, can I just ask your comments on the Reserve Bank Governor's comments?
JANE HUME: Australians will do everything they possibly can to make sure that they don't default on their mortgage repayments. What we're hearing in the Cost of Living Committee are the things that they are giving up. We're talking to places like Foodbank that are seeing families come and ask for their services for the first time, families with mortgages, families with two incomes. One charity told us but having a job is no longer a shield to policy. This is really concerning, because it's happening on this government watch. And it's happening this government's watch and have a good plan to tackle inflation. Now they talk about their cost of living measures, but that's really tinkering at the edges, because unless we're dealing with the cause and not the symptoms of inflation, essentially everything we're going to do is only temporary. The only way to improve the cost of living for all Australians is to bring down inflation. To tackle inflation head on and this government doesn't have a plan. Moreover, the decisions that it is making is actually potentially making a situation worse. Whether it be through industrial relations reforms that are going to push up prices, whether it be through cutting productive infrastructure, but continuing on with things like the Suburban Rail Loop boondoggle in Victoria , or whether it be through adding an additional 10,000 public servants in the last 12 months alone at an enormous expense to the budget. These are things that are actually making inflation worse. The government has the wrong priorities. It should be tackling inflation, because that is the thief in the night. It is the thief in the night that reduces your purchasing power, erodes your savings, and it reduces your standard of living. If the government should have been one priority, it is to lift the standard of living for the people it is trying to govern and it's failed to do so.