TOM CONNELL: Welcome back to our regular political panel, Jane Hume, she's just started talking but that's alright, wanted to start. Jane Hume and Jenny McAllister. Here each week, we drill down on the big issues. And we start with the favorite part from everybody, which is where I don't get to talk. I've lost my voice this week. So that's not a bad thing. Jane, I don't think, you want Jenny to go first?
JANE HUME: Jenny can go first today.
TOM CONNELL: I sensed that. What's got your attention?
JENNY MCALLISTER: Well, Tom, it's homelessness week this week. And after a decade of inaction under the former Liberal government, our government's really determined to get on with this and help more Australians find a safe and affordable place to call home. It's why we are investing billions into homes and homelessness. Now, the coalition just can't be taken seriously on this issue. They didn't even have a Housing Minister for the half decade, the first half decade they're in government. And now after no action, they're standing in the way of plans that the homelessness and property sector alike are calling for. It's time for the greens and the Liberal Party to stop playing politics with homelessness and housing and pass the housing Australian Future Fund.
TOM CONNELL: Jane, you've had your music.
JANE HUME: Tom, I'm channeling your 80's vibe this week. But it's not just me. I think that there's something going on in Parliament. When you think about the anti-nuclear stance that Labor took this week, the fact that the Prime Minister has been out wearing t-shirts with slogans on it to a Midnight Oil concert, and most importantly, calling just like his mate Hawkey for a public holiday after a sporting event. Now, let's be straight Anthony Albanese is no Bob Hawke. Quite frankly, Bob Hawke would never allow for the division on Israel and Palestine at a national conference. And if Bob Hawke had a problem with housing supply, he'd simply pick up the phone to Labor premiers and they would do as he asked them to do. Let's face it Albo, you're no Bob Hawke, and you never will be.
TOM CONNELL: There you go. So for Matilda's when Jane Hume says, 'Get back to work your bums'.
JANE HUME: Save small business.
TOM CONNELL: 60-day dispensing, can you help me out here, Jane? This change, the Coalition opposed it. But then didn't want to vote to oppose. What was happening there?
JANE HUME: So let me be very clear.
TOM CONNELL: In a short version that doesn't make our viewers eyes close and all that.
JANE HUME: No that's right. We support 60 day dispensing. We support cheaper medicines. What we didn't support was the way that this policy was developed and implemented. And it was done. So without the consultation of the people that affected it the most that were affected the most, the pharmacies and those pharmacies were telling us that it was going to dramatically affect the services that they delivered, it was going to affect, particularly those in regional communities that might potentially have to shut down or have fewer days open. And sometimes they're the only ones that dispense any form of health care. In a town. We also heard that it was going to cost more to deliver things like Webster packs or aged care services. So those profound unintended consequences for what was a policy that had was well intentioned, don't get me wrong, it is well intentioned, had profound unintended consequences. We asked the government to take a little bit more time go back and consult with the people that were affected by this. Because let's face it, you don't ask a restaurant to cut down their profit and deliver cheaper meals during a cost of living crisis. You don't ask a pub to cut down their profit so they can deliver cheaper beer. Why are you asking pharmacists to reduce their profit to deliver your cost of living policy?
TOM CONNELL: What do you make of the argument from in particular, the Pharmacy Guild? They say community pharmacy's could cut hours or close. Is it a watching brief for Labor? Are you consulting still or are you just saying 'nup that's all rubbish, it'll be fine'.
JANE HUME: Look in relation to community pharmacies, we understand that pharmacies are the heart and soul of many regional communities. And it's why the $1.2 billion in savings that the government would expect to arise from this measure are intended to be reinvested straight back into the community pharmacy sector. And we are confident that we can work with that sector to ensure a strong enduring services right across the country. But in terms of Jane's argument, it's a funny way to show your support for a policy Jane, to put a motion into the Senate that would have the effect of preventing this cost of living measure from starting on the first of September. And don't be fooled that it was just for a pause. The measure would have permanently prevented this this measure from committing and it's a really important measure, it will mean that 6 million Australians can gain access to cheaper medicines, it means that they'll effectively be able to get twice the medicine of one script as they do at the moment. And that is a really significant cost saving for many people around the country who experience chronic disease.
TOM CONNELL: I was a bit intrigued by the example of Montville pharmacy with us it shutting. Changes haven't come in yet. If it's shutting already that's not shutting because of changes that haven't come in yet.
JANE HUME: Well, the done their books, they know what 60 day dispensing is going to cost their business and they don't feel like their business is viable.
TOM CONNELL: But it was also noted the local GP shut, isn't that why you're shutting, because if you go to the local GP, when you go to the pharmacist. Well, then you're not, the GP shuts.
JANE HUME: You've picked one example there. But I've spoken to dozens of pharmacists that are genuinely concerned about this. Moreover, it's not just the pharmacists that are concerned about it, it's also the patients because you know, if you get, if you're on a gold card, and you you get, you reach the safety net threshold, you'll actually reach that safety net threshold later, with 60 Day dispensing, then you would and that means that you're not going to get you're gonna get free medicines later than you would. So it's actually going to harm some of the most disadvantaged in the community, all we're asking for was pause, so that you could renegotiate with the community pharmacy sector, to make sure that those unintended consequences didn't.
TOM CONNELL: Few different economic indicators out of light around how the economy's traveling, small business revenue is holding up, which sort of seems counterintuitive, and unemployment is very low, albeit consumer sentiments very down on households are struggling. How would you describe the households in the economy right now? Is it proving resilient? Or is this really tough?
JANE HUME: Look, we go into this very difficult international situation with a lot of real strengths. And you know, first amongst them actually, is the very low rates of unemployment that you've referred to. But the truth is, this will be a very tough period and is a tough period for a lot of Australian households. We're very conscious of that. And we consider that getting on top of inflation is the defining challenge. And it's why the budget was structured in the way it was delivering cost of living relief, were we caught in a responsible and targeted way, dealing with supply chain and supply side challenges that were driving inflation and shoring up the budget delivering a surplus, and basically making the responsible decisions necessary to get the budget back in shape. After inheriting a trillion dollars of Liberal debt.
TOM CONNELL: There have been some warnings from the Coalition. Is the economy right now holding up a bit better than you thought it would?
JANE HUME: Well actually the economy's shattering to a halt. And this is our concern. We're seeing growth rates now below 1%. That was what the RBA forecast this week, and productivity levels-
TOM CONNELL: Didn't they have 1.6 for the year? I mean, it's below population growth.
JANE HUME: That's even less than the Budget and that's a real concern that the budget forecasts only a couple of months later are already out of date, as we already saw with interest rates, which are higher now than the Budget forecast. And inflation still remains really sticky. We have the second highest level of core inflation than any other G7 country other than the UK. That's a genuine concern. So if this budget was all about making sure that inflation didn't run out of control, what is it that the government is doing to ensure that that would happen? Certainly, it's not helping with productivity between industrial relations laws and interventions in the energy market that are actually detracting from productivity growth and preventing investment in the country.
TOM CONNELL: We're going to end by talking on housing, but I'll just riff off, but Phil Lowe had to say he got pilloried for it. Sometimes he gives these dry sort of arguments that don't go down that well. Well he said people need to move in. More people per house bigger share houses. That just got me thinking around some interesting experiences soon after I you know, flew the nest I guess, Jay, what about you interesting, or, but I'll just keep using the word interesting, interesting share houses or a share house that you landed in, in your youth.
JANE HUME: Yeah my first sharehouse site when I moved in, I set up the washing machine all by myself. But when I went out for the evening, on my first night in my new share house, I didn't obviously set it up properly, because I flooded the joint and it stank for the rest of the time I was there.
TOM CONNELL: The whole house?
JANE HUME: Every room.
TOM CONNELL: So you're the nightmare?
JANE HUME: Saturated the carpets. It was me, it was me. Sorry.
JENNY MCALLISTER: Yeah well, I think our generation probably did have it a lot easier than this generation actually in accessing housing, but I lived in heaps of share houses, mostly around Brisbane and then a bit around Sydney. Maybe my, I think my lessons are sort of about how to get on with other people. My kind of most chaotic share house sort of had one flatmate whole accumulated a whole pile of shopping trolleys because you just bring one home every time you went to the shop, and resolving that became quite a high priority for the group.
TOM CONNELL: There you go. I like the idea of that.
JANE HUME: Come on Tom. Have you got a story?
TOM CONNELL: I was thinking about this last night and I do remember thinking I'd picked a great house and then in the laundry and without wanting to pull off our viewers. I looked at the washing machine. I thought 'what's that?'. It was an inch thick layer of here somehow on top of the washing machine, and I thought I might find a new house. And I did. Hello out, if you're out there. My old flatmates, I didn't last very long. Jenny, Jane, on that note, maybe you'll be back next week. Maybe not though. Maybe you're sick, I want to steer clear of it. Good to have you. Enjoyed the couple of sitting next. We'll talk next week.