DANICA DE GIORGIO: Treasurer Jim Chalmers will reveal the nation's first surplus in 15 years will be significantly higher than the $4.2 billion forecast in the Budget. But not for long, due to high inflation and global headwinds. Joining me now live is Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume, thank you so much for joining us. Do you welcome a better than expected surplus?
JANE HUME: Danica, a drover's dog could have delivered a surplus in this budget. We know that because commodity prices are so high. And of course, because inflation is high. That means that so many Australians are being pushed up into a higher tax bracket through bracket creep. That's what's caused this increase in revenue. But really, if Jim Chalmers was such a good economic manager, why is he then forecasting a deficit in every budget year from here, right through the forward estimates for the next four years, so let's face it, delivering a surplus once in the rear vision mirror is not a big challenge the big challenge is maintaining a strong economy through controlling your spending, bringing down inflation, making sure that the RBA doesn't have to do all the heavy lifting and delivering sustainable surpluses into the future, not deficits as far as the eye can see.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: The Coalition has previously said budget surpluses should be banked by the government to avoid causing more inflation yet this morning on Sky News, Sussan Ley said more money should be sent to Ukraine. What's the economic logic behind that?
JANE HUME: Well, interesting, isn't it that there was an additional $2 billion found down just the back of the couch a couple of weeks ago. To try and provide an incentive to the Greens to support Labor's housing policy. Now that $2 billion wasn't in the budget just six weeks ago. Already that budget is out of date, but it's not the first indicator that the budgets are out of date. In fact, the budget was forecasting interest rates of 3.85% into the future. Well, that lasted less than a month before the RBA responded and potentially may do so again next week. We'll learn today what the inflation rate is, is going to be or has been, whether it's come down from that those highs there were three quarters with a seven in front of them. That of course meant that the RBA had to respond with the one tool in its shared that it's got which is rising interest rates. That's what's making Australians really feel the pinch particularly mortgage holders and anybody that has a debt business holders as well, pushing up rents pushing up the cost of doing business, and of course that's been passed on to consumers as the rising cost of living.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Do you agree though, that more money should be sent to Ukraine and Sussan Ley is arguing that a budget surplus should make more money for Ukraine because it's immoral to profit from high commodity prices caused by the war. Where do you sit on this?
JANE HUME: Well, certainly we know that supporting the Ukraine is a fundamental part of our national security imperatives and in fact, the Labor Government was elected knowing full well its commitment to Ukraine and has been a little slow, dragging its heels in stepping up to that commitment. So we would want to see the Labor government meet its promises to the Ukraine, and I think that Australians would expect that. Now should it be an additional expenditure? I think they've already promised a significant amount. We want to see what's been promised be delivered.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Alright, so a possible surplus bigger than what was forecast. In your view. How short lived is this going to be?
JANE HUME: What we know already that it's only going to be this one year because Jim Chalmers' own budget has forecast deficits off into the future. And those deficits could potentially be worse if the economic situation deteriorates if inflation is higher than expected, and if the RBA needs to shock consumers even more. We're already feeling the economy shudder to a halt our growth projections have come right down. And there's a number of economists out there now that are even forecasting a recession. Now if we do get there, that's a recession that we don't need to have. It's being made worse because of the decisions that this government is making. The decisions that this government is making is making inflation last stay higher for longer, which is meaning inflation, means interest rates stay higher, for longer. And of course, it's ordinary Australians, particularly working Australians, ones that have a mortgage that are paying the price for that.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: You mentioned inflation, of course, the latest inflation data will be released today. What are your expectations?
JANE HUME: Well, I don't want to preempt what those figures might be. We do know that they were much higher than anticipated. Last month. Some of that was because of the reduction of fuel excise. We would hope that we would see it come down. You know, quite frankly, if the government isn't doing everything it can to bring inflation down with the tools at its disposal by using fiscal policy. Well, then it's simply turning over all the heavy lifting to the RBA forcing it with the one tool that it's got interest rates to keep inflation under control. If you've got an expansionary budget, if you've got a government that isn't using all of its fiscal firepower to bring inflation down, it's like having one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake and that's a terrific way to break the engine. We'd like to see both fiscal policy and monetary policy work together, not against each other. That's the best way to maintain inflation to get it back into that two to 3% band, but also to reduce the pain of the cost of living on all Australians because the only way you could reduce the cost of living for all Australians is to bring inflation under control.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: All right, look, I've got to end by asking you, we've got half an hour left before tickets to Taylor Swift are released, the presale. Will you be getting tickets today?
JANE HUME: Well, I would love to say that I would, I know that my daughter is desperate for me to do so. It's funny, you know, we were talking about how in other cities, concerts, Taylor Swift concerts, as well as Beyonce's has actually caused inflation spikes. You can see it in the data, bringing concerts to Melbourne and to Sydney by Taylor Swift. You know that's a great thing for our economy. I was speaking to some small businesses in the city, in the CBD just yesterday, who was saying bringing those events is fantastic for small businesses, for restaurants for hotels and tourism. But at the same time, we also know that there's a lot of Australians out there now that would have loved to have bought Taylor Swift tickets today, and they won't be doing it because a year ago they might have had the money to do it. This year they won't. That's a real shame.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Yeah, I can still it's got to be approved pretty big frenzy and a half an hour to try and get to his bed, Sir James, good to speak with you. Thanks for joining us.