DAVID KOCH: Now, Aussies are feeling the pain of rising prices and households budgets are struggling. And there’s another hit this morning, millions of residents will be paying hundreds of dollars more for their gas from today. As retailers increase their natural gas tariffs comes as the new cost of living inquiry begins. It will look into how the government is handling the crisis and whether more can be done to help struggling families. Shadow Finance Minister and Chair of that committee and Liberal Senator Jamie Hume joins me now. Good morning to you. What are you hoping to achieve with this inquiry? What's it going to do?
JANE HUME: we know that the cost of living is the number one issue for Australians right now? Every poll says so. And prior to the election, Labor said that they had all the answers and yet it seems to be getting worse. 7.8% inflation that's the worst inflation figure we've seen since 1990. And of course at the beginning of the year with people going back to work going back to school. Australians are feeling the pinch of the grocery checkout at the petrol bowser when they're paying their bills, when they're paying their mortgages.
DAVID KOCH: So is this just going to be a political witch hunt, rather than have any practical outcomes?
JANE HUME: Quite the opposite of practical outcomes is exactly what we're looking for. We're going to consult with industry we're going to consult with individuals with businesses with community groups and find some practical implementable solutions to the cost of living crisis that won't make the problem worse because so many knee jerk reactions can actually be inflationary. They can fuel inflation, making the situation worse.
DAVID KOCH: So a lot of our inflation is beyond their control. It's imported from overseas with global energy prices, flood floods, when devastating for fruit and vegetable prices. You can't do anything about that. In a practical sense, what can be done? Are you going to look at say, putting a limit on the margin that petrol stations can can charge for our petrol?
JANE HUME: Well in fact, we're going to speak to petrol companies today to find out what it is that they suggest the government can do that can practically affect the cost of petrol for consumers. We're also going to speak to businesses to find out whether there is any red tape for instance, that's in their way that if removed, could be passed on to consumers at the end. We're speaking to Woolworths and to other retailers to see what it is in their supply chain where we can smooth out those frictions, so that could be passed on to consumers. What is it that businesses can do to help consumers? That's what the Labor government have failed to do They haven't consulted with businesses and asked them.
DAVID KOCH: Okay, so for example, let's hit let's go back to the bowser because that's one of the biggest costs of everyone. And should we be bringing greater regulation on companies? Are you going to grill them on why they seem to gouge at parts of the year What the hell is this discounting cycle that that can see a petrol price change 50 cents a litre overnight? Seems ludicrous.
JANE HUME: Well we’ll certainly speak to government agencies and particularly the ACCC to find out what it is that they do when they monitor that behavior in fuel companies. But we also want to speak to gas companies, for instance, and find out how these new price caps are going to affect gas prices for consumers whether they're actually going to make the situation worse.
DAVID KOCH: Okay. All right. It's going to be fascinating and keep us up to date.