Interview with Ash Gillon, NewsDay
9 May 2023
ASH GILLON: Well, let's bring you some more of the thinking of the Opposition ahead of tonight's Budget. Joining us live in Canberra, the Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume. Appreciate your time. Thank you. We are seeing of course there's surplus tonight Jim Chalmers has confirmed this today, that's something to celebrate isn't it? Doesn't it hurt a bit to see a Labor Government in a position to be able to hand one down, the first in 15 years?
JANE HUME: Ash the real test for the Government is not just delivering a surplus tonight, because let's face it, as Angus Taylor said to drovers dog could deliver a surplus in these circumstances because of the strong economic position that was left by the Coalition Government, low unemployment, a growing economy plus that high inflation is causing bracket creep and those high commodity prices, it means that there is revenue just sailing through the door, if you couldn't deliver a surplus with that amount of revenue or when can you in fact, that's exactly what we're seeing. Because it's a one off surplus, the real test for Labor is whether they can deliver a sustainable surplus in future years as well and the only way they can do that is if they rein in that innate urge to spend, to tax and spend, a traditional Labor Budget and that's exactly what we're expecting tonight.
ASH GILLON: Let's look at taxing, I'm keen for your view on the revamp of the petroleum resource rent tax. The PRRT, we heard Olivia touching on this in her report just a few minutes ago, we saw the teals, they're describing this as a missed opportunity. They're arguing essentially that the fact that the gas companies seem pretty happy with the outcome means that the result is really too weak from Labor. Would you have liked the Government gone harder on that?
JANE HUME: Well, the PRRT was something that was assessed by the Callaghan review in the last Government. And it was certainly something that we considered but unfortunately that was before things like a price cap on gas, it was before the safeguard mechanism was introduced. This is just another hit on our energy sector, which is going to push up prices further, making paying those electricity bills and gas bills so much harder for ordinary Australians, the only way you could sustainably bring down the cost of energy is to make sure there's new supply in the system and by taxing more by putting in those market mechanisms or those government interventions, through price caps. Essentially, you're just turning new supply away, making investment look elsewhere for opportunity. Because it's just too hard to do business in Australia. That's a real shame that the opportunity is lost, because Australians will end up paying the price with their electricity bills.
ASH GILLON: Jane Hume, no doubt a big job for you this week is helping Peter Dutton in crafting his Budget reply in a couple of days, give us some hints or is it so early in the election cycle that we shouldn't expect any big revolutionary announcements from him in that budget reply? Will it be more of a standard fare? What can we expect?
JANE HUME: Well, I don't want to preempt what will be in the Budget reply on Thursday night, obviously much will be in response to the Budget that we're going to see tonight. What we do know, though, is those cost of living measures that Jim Chalmers is announcing today. Really, I think Angus Taylor described it as a band aid on a bullet hole because unless this Government can keep inflation under control, well, then it's simply not doing its job. It's raising the white flag and saying inflation isn't our responsibility. The RBA can do all the heavy lifting there and Australians will pay the price because they'll see their mortgages continue to increase. Inflation is the greatest driver of the cost of living crisis in this country. It's a thief in the night. It erodes your purchasing power. It keeps your real wages low. It eats at your savings and it actually reduces your standard of living. If Jim Chalmers is serious about improving the lives of Australians, all Australians rather than just a select few then maintaining and actually reducing inflation should be the number one priority of this Budget. That's not what we're hearing. That will be a response of the Opposition on Thursday night.
ASH GILLON: Well, as you say, not long now until we see all the details and we can get into a real argument about what the Government's actually doing in this budget. Jane Hume, while I've got you I realise that your focus is mainly there in Canberra this week. But I did want to ask you about the Liberals in your home state of Victoria. They seem to be in a real mess following the Moira Deeming row. We've seen legal threats being thrown around, plenty of he said, she said going on. Would it be best for the party if Moira Deeming is expelled from the party? The meeting is scheduled for this Friday as I understand?
JANE HUME: Well, that is a decision for the Victorian parliamentary team and they will be meeting on Friday to have that discussion. What I would say is that there is a corrupt Government in Victoria. and the Premier is at the front and center of a stench of corruption around Spring Street and every day that Liberals are talking about themselves rather than talking about how bad the Andrews’ Government is in Victoria, is a day lost and a day wasted. It's really important that the parliamentary team, the Liberal parliamentary team get their act together, make their decisions and move on and do their job which is to hold that very bad Government to account.
ASH GILLON: Well as a senior Liberal Jane there in the state of Victoria, you must be concerned about how things have played out. We've seen Warren Mundine say that John Pesutto is a dead man walking for the way that he's handled this drama. Does he have your confidence as Liberal leader in Victoria, do you think Moira Deeming has actually done anything wrong?
JANE HUME: I've known John for more than 20 years. He is an extraordinary human being, a fine and considered man, an intellectual man and I know that he is trying to do the right thing to bring the team together because that is the only way that is the only way we're going to be able to fight the Andrews Government, that is a bad Government, that has left Victoria in such a bad state that it has now come cap in hand to the Federal Government and asked for a bailout. We are a failed state in Victoria, the Andrews Government has caused that situation and now it's up to the Victorian parliamentary Liberal team to make sure that he's held to account.
ASH GILLON: But as somebody so close to what's going on there, do you think that my Moira Deeming has done anything offensive enough to warrant being expelled from the party?
JANE HUME: I think that that's a decision for the parliamentary team and that's something that they will discuss this Friday. We know now that there are a number of Liberals that have had their concerns, that have moved this motion. That's their discussion to have and that’s their discussion to have behind closed doors. It's not for the Federal team to intervene.
ASH GILLON: Okay, Jane Hume, we really appreciate your time. We'll be hearing a lot well from you, no doubt over the coming days, after we see Jim Chalmers heading down the Budget this evening. Thank you.