AMANDA STOKER: Joining me now to unpack this is Senator Jane Hume, Liberal Senator for Victoria and Shadow Minister for Finance, Shadow Minister of State and the Public Service, so Jane Hume thank you so much for your time.
JANE HUME: Good to be with you, Amanda.
AMANDA STOKER: Much of the drive to increase the rate at which those people on welfare payments are paid. Here's about coping with an out of control cost of living. But surely upping the payments is just a band aid. Shouldn't the government be addressing the underlying causes of inflation?
JANE HUME: There is absolutely no doubt that households are making really hard decisions with their own budgets right now. And they'll be looking on Tuesday night to Jim Chalmers to do exactly the same. We've heard a lot about where money is going to be spent and it doesn't really matter whether it'd be JobSeeker, whether it'd be on single parent payments, whether it be on aged care, all of those, of course, worthy causes. However, tackling the cost of living is so much harder and more difficult than just simply tackling different areas. The only way that you can bring down the cost of living for all Australians is to tackle inflation head on and that's what we'll be looking for a specific policy or procedure specific target to tackle inflation, because unless you tackle inflation, well those increase payments, whether it be to single parents or whether it be to job seekers will simply be eroded being gobbled up as prices rise even higher. More importantly, as inflation rises, well of course, each of those payments are indexed and they ratchet up costing the budget, the taxpayer more and more, so it becomes a vicious cycle. There has to be anti inflationary policies in this budget. On Tuesday night. Otherwise, it's simply just Labor paying lip service to the cost of living crisis that's facing Australians today.
AMANDA STOKER: Jane, it's in everyone's interests, whether it's single women and children, taxpayers, employers of the government or generally to ensure that welfare policy supports and encourages people to spend only the time truly necessary out of the workforce unless they're in a position to fund it for themselves. What are the perverse effects that arise from having childcare and welfare policy that's operating at cross purposes?
JANE HUME: Well, you and I know a fair bit about this matter of having both worked in women's portfolios in the last government and I know that you were felt the same as did I to be very proud of being part of a government that saw the gender pay gap, come down from a high of around 17 and a half percent when the Coalition came to power in 2013. Right down to as low as below 13%. And in fact, I think it went down to around 12% At one stage as well. And not only that, but we saw women's participation in the workforce rise to record levels. That's something that I was very proud of, and I know that you were to and giving the incentives to encourage more women to participate more flooding the workforce is part of the challenge. That was certainly our focus when we did changes to the childcare subsidy to make sure that those that had second and subsequent children that were working, that were studying, that were volunteering, they were the ones to where the subsidy was directed. My concern now with the childcare subsidy that's been proposed by this government and additional 4.7 billion so not a small amount is that in fact, A - will get gobbled up by inflation almost immediately. We can see childcare costs already going through the roof, just six 6% In just the last six months alone, and B - it doesn't do anything to address the other problems with things like childcare like accessibility, those childcare deserts in certain regional towns and of course, the shortage of the workforce to so will this subsidy this very, very large subsidy have the effect that Labor are promising. I very much doubt it. In fact, when Labor will last in power we saw childcare, early learning costs go up around 53% In just six years. So you can see how these things get out of control very easily. The most important thing that we can do, of course, is to bring inflation back down so that the cost of running those childcare centers, whether it be energy, whether it be food costs come down as well, and that will make childcare more affordable and sustainable.
AMANDA STOKER: When you pointed out the way that the subsidies as they are increased get gobbled up almost immediately by inflation and the cost of childcare. But aren't the economic effects of subsidies, you know, ongoing and higher costs almost immediately applied? Part of the problem? Don't we need to re-imagine the way that we do this so that it doesn't continue to be out of the reach of normal families.
JANE HUME: Well, I think that there's an awful lot of evidence to suggest that that may be the case because child care and indeed aged care are those industries that where the cost pressures are so great, and yet the demand for care is simply increasing. So at some point, there does have to be some fresh eyes and a new approach to the way that we fund child care and aged care as well. But in the meantime, simply throwing money as subsidies to the system won't necessarily solve the process. And in fact, it could make it worse. You look at something like aged care for instance, and a new a noble cause, including a nurse 24/7 in every aged care center, but unfortunately, because of that imposition on the on the sector, we're now seeing aged care centers shut down because they're not going to be able to meet their legislative requirements. So you could see the perverse effects, potentially, of simply legislating an outcome or throwing money through a subsidy to a sector.
AMANDA STOKER: Yeah, good point. Senator Hume, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.