LAURA JAYES: Welcome back. The spotlight is again on Qantas, as the Senate inquiry investigates the federal government's decision to stop additional Qatar Airways flights into Australia. The troubled airline has been accused of using its strong presence in Canberra to muscle out its competitors. Joining me now is the Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume. Jane, great to see you. Once again, did this inquiry uncover anything we didn't already know yesterday?
JANE HUME: This is just the first day of the inquiry into airlines, Laura, and it will report back after numerous other hearings. But what we did learn from industry experts is that Qantas has been quite a muscular organisation. That was the word that Minister sorry, Senator McKenzie had used, and that industry experts were saying that it has used aggressive tactics to maintain lower levels of competition. Which of course, you know, the government is the regulator in this space, and it has assisted Qantas to maintain its very privileged position, protecting Qantas's profits and position at the expense of airfares that ordinary Australians are paying. We heard from industry experts that had that Qatar decision gone ahead back in the middle of this year that right now, Australians would be paying less for airfares than they are.
LAURA JAYES: Thanks for battling with that wind there. This morning. It's hot and blustery right across the east coast.
JANE HUME: Yeah it is. We are out here today in Penrith, Peter Dutton's shadow cabinet is meeting today in Western Sydney. And we have a number of community events. But yes, you're right. It is very hot. A little less Xanadu and more Twister.
LAURA JAYES: No, it's fine. It's very Xanadu. While I've got you on the weather I mean, we've seen five days above 30 degrees in Sydney and we're only in September. This is meant to be Spring. Is this climate change do you think?
JANE HUME: Well, the climate is always changing, as you know, Laura, and it's not unusual to have streams of hot weather at the beginning of summer or the end of summer and even unseasonable weather. Yes, it is very hot and dry today. There's no doubt about that. And it's been, as I think, a salient warning that our bushfire season is very soon upon us and it's important that communities and governments are ready for potentially what that might, what that might bring.
LAURA JAYES: Okay, well enjoy the hot wind today. Let's talk about your home state of Victoria and the housing announcement. We're going to see confirmed today the Airbnb, a new tax on Airbnb. If you don't agree with the tax, do you at least agree that something needs to be done about Airbnb to ease the pressure on renters?
JANE HUME: Well, I certainly don't agree with this new tax, which is essentially on holidays and tourism. And it's going to dramatically affect the attractiveness of Victoria as a holiday destination. Moreover, the Productivity Commission came out just a couple of days ago, and said that those high short term rentals are in fact a symptom, not a cause of high rents, that the only way to sustainably bring down rents is the only way to sustainably bring down house prices. And that, of course, is through supply. And then in fact, having a tax on short term rental rentals can have a detriment, a deleterious effect on the housing market. So that affects people's incomes. And obviously it affects the tourism industry. So it's actually a negative effect. This is in fact, a government that is using taxes as a way to solve its crisis. It's using the rental crisis as a sort of shroud. But in fact, this is just an excuse to lift more and more taxes to pay for the incredibly high debt in Victoria, because this is a government that has become lazy, that is incompetent, and let's face it is also corrupt.
LAURA JAYES: Corrupt, you think?
JANE HUME: Well, I don't need to think that I think you can ask the Auditor General you can, you know, ask the you know, the IBAC Commissioners down in Victoria, they've all come out and said that this is a government that has some serious questions to answer about its behavior, whether it be through branch stalking, whether it be through spending taxpayer monies to campaign, there is so much going on. There are numerous investigations into this government. It's all being done behind closed doors and now the government is in fact accusing the anti corruption commission of problems so you know, sort of playing the man and not the ball here any excuse will do raising taxes is not the answer increase increasing growth, making Victoria a more livable city after its terrible COVID experiences. The government has a lot of questions to answer here. And certainly new taxes is not the answer.
LAURA JAYES: Yeah, it's a bit of a mess. Jane Hume thanks for joining us as always. Welcome to windy Sydney.