Interview with Gary Adshead, 6PR
10 May 2023
GARY ADSHEAD: Welcome back. We're talking about the Federal Budget delivered last night. Love to hear your views on it. 138 882. Right now, let's go and have a chat with Senator Jane Hume. She is the Opposition's Finance spokesperson and joins us on the line. Thanks for your time, Senator.
JANE HUME: Good to be with you, Gary.
GARY ADSHEAD: Okay. Will you support these Budget measures in full?
JANE HUME: Well, obviously, we've got to put those through our normal party processes. We only got the details of this last night and you'll hear some more about that in Peter Dutton's Budget in reply speech tomorrow evening. But there are some elements of the Budget that are concerning us. We shouldn't be surprised. It's a typical, traditional Labor big spending, big taxing Budget. There's in fact around $185 billion increase in spending just in the last year alone and of course the problem with that is it sends a message to the RBA because what we wanted was a Budget that actually reduced inflation, that reigned in spending to combat the cost of living crisis that's facing all Australians. It seems that Labor have vacated that field and said inflation isn't our responsibility and of course that means that the RBA has to do all the heavy lifting and it's not just me that's saying that there's a whole bunch of ratings agencies and economists from Citi to Goldman Sachs that are saying that the chances are now the RBA is going to be forced to hike up interest rates again, and that's really going to hurt those mortgage holders that are already paying a big price for this Government's cost of living crisis.
GARY ADSHEAD: I'll come to that in a sec. But I mean, just to give me an idea, you couldn't possibly oppose a $2.85 day increase in Jobseeker, could you? I mean, that's all it is.
JANE HUME: Raising Jobseeker has never been a policy of the Coalition, now that it's been proposed by the Labor Government, and inevitably they will enact that. We'll have to deal with that. But, you know, quite frankly, we think that there were other ways that the Government could have dealt with the cost of living crisis. It wouldn't have just been specifically targeted to one area, but it would have delivered cost of living relief to all Australians and that is getting inflation under control and they actually took an objective of reducing inflation out of their fiscal strategy this year, which makes us all scratch our heads and say, well, does that mean that essentially you're saying we give up on inflation, we give up on interest rates and we're just going to leave that to the RBA and the RBA push up interest rates?
GARY ADSHEAD: Now, this government did deliver a surplus. Why couldn't your government do that?
JANE HUME: Well, I mean, I think Angus Taylor said it right. You know, the drover's dog could have delivered a surplus this year, to be honest. I mean, you know, let's face it, we have record high commodity prices. We had massive increases in company tax, also in income tax, because inflation has been so high, bracket creep has set in. People are being pushed from one income tax bracket to the other and the Government reaps the benefits. You know, revenue does increase when there is high inflation, so Governments can benefit from high inflation. What we want to see is inflation come down and that benefits all Australians.
GARY ADSHEAD: Now what do you say then was missing from this Budget? If it was your Budget, what was missing?
JANE HUME: Well, I'll tell you what was in there that we are concerned about, and that was a couple of extra sneaky higher taxes, things like taxes on farmers with a biodiversity levy and a tax on truckies as well with a heavy vehicle user charge. Now, the problem with those two, particularly in combination, is that will put pressure on grocery prices, on food prices that could actually have a more inflationary measure. There was also a passenger movement charge. So the tourism operators that have already done it tough for the last few years are going to have to cop that one, that affects the tourism industry and here's the real kicker that's in there. There's 1.5 million in net migration over the next five years, including this one. But infrastructure spending has been either delayed or cut and of course, without that infrastructure to support that higher migration policy, well, all Australians begin to suffer. You know, we've already got a housing crisis, a housing shortage. What we would have liked to have seen is some better use of the fact that we have a Labor Federal Government and we have Labor, State and Territory governments right around the country except in Tasmania. Why isn't it the Prime Minister using that position, using that opportunity to ensure that Labor Governments right around the country are opening up supply? Because that's the best way to ensure that the housing crisis, that the pressure on housing is alleviated, particularly when we're having such high numbers of migrants coming to Australia now.
GARY ADSHEAD: Can I just ask you, I mean, in some ways this budget, when everything sort of stripped bare, is a winner for you because it clearly leaves behind and has nothing in there for the vast majority of people that, you know, get up out of bed every morning, go and get a job and work and pay a mortgage and put food on their family's tables. There's nothing in it for them. I mean, it's basically a welfare budget and then, of course, juxtapose that with what's going to come in 2024 where you have the big tax breaks for those, you know, $180,000 or more. So in the middle, there's this massive pool of people that are just honest brokers that might look at this and go, well, what's there for me?
JANE HUME: Well, I think that they will because their gas and electricity bills will continue to skyrocket. Any relief is going to be targeted and immediate. It won't necessarily be available to the majority of Australians out there. Real wages still haven't grown. Inflation remains stubbornly high and you feel that when you pay your insurance or when you pay your grocery bills, unemployment is expected to rise and taxes have continued to grow. So, yeah, I would imagine that there'd be a lot of people, particularly those ones that have a mortgage now, that are really shouldering the burden of those increasing cost of living that would be really disappointed in this Budget and would be, you know, they'll be looking to those stage three tax cuts to offer them some relief next year.
GARY ADSHEAD: So are those tax cuts still fair in the scheme of all this cost of living crisis?
JANE HUME: Well, I think that bracket creep, that's the real thief in the night here. You know, people have actually been pushed up into paying higher amounts of tax even while they're earning the same amount of money and inflation is meaning that their purchasing power has gone down. So they're being squeezed at both ends. That's really unfair on ordinary Australians and you know, those stage three tax cuts really are putting more of your own money back into your pocket at a time that you need it the most.
GARY ADSHEAD: But that, you know, just that again, plays to inflation.
JANE HUME: Well, I think if you look at the Treasury forecasts, they're expecting inflation to have come well down by the middle of next year. Now, I still scratch my head and I haven't been able to actually identify a policy in this Budget that will bring inflation down. There's a few that they say won't make it worse, but even then, it's actually very hard to draw the thread. We'll be investigating that much further at Budget Estimates when we have the Treasury officials at the desk, because I think some of the claims that they have made, we can't understand the connection between a decreasing inflation, which is what their forecast is and these stimulatory policies.
GARY ADSHEAD: All right, Senator Hume, appreciate you joining us today. I'll let you go.
JANE HUME: Great to be with you, thanks Gary.