LUKE GRANT: Everything's about the voice right? power prices. I hang on got to talk about the voice population growth. No, no, no. We're going to talk about the voice. Well, no, people argue and I struggle to make ends meet, try and get done what we want for our families, because the big issue remains cost of living. You might remember a little while back I spoke to the shadow finance minister, Senator Jane Hume about this very topic. Her and her committee have been looking at the cost of living crisis in Australia. Thank goodness someone is but of course it's not the voice so it's not going to get much publicity, but it will on the show. It will on this show. She's been in Western Sydney where the message was loud and clear. Let's get her on the line and have a chat. Senator Jane Hume lovely to talk, hope you’re well.
JANE HUME: Great to be with you Luke.
LUKE GRANT: Now on Friday you took evidence getting you from individuals and businesses in Western Sydney people doing a tough because cost of living is a real thing. It's not just a made up headline and I'm sure you found plenty out when the people of the West opened their mouths and spoke to you. I imagine mortgage stress is a big thing is it?
JANE HUME: Mortgage stress is an enormous issue in Western Sydney. Actually, the Cost of Living Committee has been traveling right around the country. And yes, you're right. Last week we were in Warwick Farm in Western Sydney. We heard then that the average family with a mortgage is having to find an additional $12,000 a year to cover their mortgage increases when the current rate rise cycle throws flows through to their repayments. That's an enormous amount of money for your average family to find, you know, somewhere down the back of the couch just to live in the same home that they lived in last year. But we also have some businesses and I thought this was really interesting. We spoke to a lot of the local chambers of commerce that represent small businesses in the area who are telling us obviously it's not just households that have been hit by the cost of living crisis. But small businesses are suffering too. And the number one concern for businesses out in West Sydney is the high and ever rising cost of power prices. So we know that, you know Labor's failure to bring down power prices is having a huge impact on household budgets certainly. But now we also know that propelled to a cost of doing business crisis too. And these businesses are really worried whether they'll be able to remain viable.
LUKE GRANT: And with that, it sounds nice ‘we're gonna make more things here in Australia’, but how the hell can we possibly do that when it's so expensive to make stuff and then try and sell it around the world? Goodness me. Good luck with that.
JANE HUME: That's right and it's not just the businesses that are being affected but charities know they're telling us that the rising cost of living, more people, more Australians are turning to charities to help them put food on the table. You know, the Salvos said to us that about a third of the people that are walking through their doors are saying that the cost of living is why they need help, or UnitingCare has said that they've seen a massive increase in first time support recipients, many of whom are employed, and sometimes even double income families. So having a job is no longer a shield against the cost of living. We had a head of a local food charity said that they were receiving in smaller donations of food too because shops are ordering less in response to subdued sales. So that's caused by increased prices. So this is a knock on effect. And even Woolworths said to us that they've increased their food donations by around 20% because of the increased demand from charities, helping families that are struggling to make ends meet so you can see the flow on effect of the cost of living. There's those primary victims, families and households and businesses. But then there's a secondary ones to some of the charities who are telling us that they can't get volunteers anymore because their volunteers are going back into the workforce to pay their own costs.
LUKE GRANT: Of course, what does government do? I mean, we've got a budget, what a week and a bit away, maybe two weeks away what's what's the federal government going to do? What would you expect them to do?
JANE HUME: Well, Australian families are having to make some really difficult decisions to manage their budgets right now. We expect the Labor government to do the same. And we want them to make some very serious decisions particularly about their spending. Because the more that they spend, that's a signal to the Reserve Bank. You know, it's like having one foot on the accelerator while the Reserve Bank's putting its foot on the brake. It keeps having to raise interest rates further and further, because the government is actually stimulating the economy rather than holding it back. So we want to see some action from the government, particularly on this spending wish list, which potentially is just getting further and further out of control. We're expecting a big tax big spend Labor budgets, a typical Labor budget that seems to be what Jim Chalmers is prepping us for. That will only make a bad situation worse there are things that the government can do things like manage competition for the ACCC can reduce red tape, and of course, it can implement tax cuts and that will ensure that people have more money in their pockets in the middle of a cost of living crisis.
LUKE GRANT: Do you think those Stage 3 tax cuts are gone?
JANE HUME: I hope not. They won't come in until the middle of next next year. And of course, by that stage, we're hoping that the worst of inflation will be done. They're really important because when inflation goes up the bracket creep, it's more likely that you're going to fall into another tax bracket and pay more tax unless you get those tax cuts coming through.
LUKE GRANT: Reading the paper on the weekend,I've seen a bit of this. Now you and the fantastic Brian Loughnane did a review of the Liberal Party following the last federal election. We know what happened there. And I keep reading about the imminent passing of the liberal party. I don't know if there'll be a formal service or what will happen. How do you as someone who conducted the inquiry with Brian and looking at the numbers, like why they fill in May last year of course, in New South Wales, there was a government going for a fourth term and there was a minority Labor government elected there was a by election loss which was, you know, changing the world as we know this is not meant to not meant to happen. What do you make of the current state of the Liberal Party and perhaps a coverage of it?
JANE HUME: You know, how does that old saying go, ‘news of the liberal party's death has been greatly exaggerated’. I think that, look at every election loss it's really important to reflect but it's also an opportunity to recalibrate and rebuild. And that's not just for the parliamentary party, although for us, certainly it's a time to develop that positive policy platform that reflects those Liberal Party values, you know, choice and personal responsibility, reward for effort, compassion and care for our people in society who can't look after themselves, but also our principles, you know lower taxes, small government, prudent economic management, and for the Liberal Party organisation more broadly, it's really important that we use this opportunity to rebuild our membership to better reflect the people that we wish to represent, and also to augment and develop our talent pool and develop our campaigning abilities so that, you know, Australians know that it's not just that we want them on our side. It's so that they know that Liberals are on their side to help people be their best selves, help their businesses and help their families get ahead. So that's what the Review suggested. But look, there are many, many reasons why governments lose elections, nine years in government, just in this parliamentary term. The Liberal Party has been around now for 80 years and of that 80 years we've been in government for around two thirds of the time. The next thing for us is to make sure that the Liberal Party is a strong and reflective organisation for the next 80 years.
LUKE GRANT: And that won't happen overnight. But I imagine as was said once, famously by someone else, it will happen.
JANE HUME: That's exactly right. There's a lot of very good people in the Liberal Party with great ideas, unique perspectives from everything from small businesses to law to medicine, to the from the military to farming, you know, we're a very diverse community in the Liberal Party and and that's because we want to better reflect a broader Australia and we'll continue to do that, and to present a really compelling policy platform so that Australians can see themselves in their best lives reflected in what it is that we can do for them.
LUKE GRANT: Good to talk to you, Jane, thank you so much for your time. Bye bye, Senator Jane Hume, the Shadow Minister for Finance and chair of the Select Committee on the cost of living crisis in Australia.