Interview with Narelda Jacobs, 10 News First: Midday
11 May 2023
NARELDA JACOBS: Ahead of Peter Dutton’s Budget reply tonight, the Opposition continues to accuse the Federal Government of fueling inflation. Treasurer Jim Chalmers has fought back this morning, accusing Peter Dutton of wanting to divide the nation. It comes after some senior economists argue the $20 billion spent over the next five years could put pressure on the RBA to drive interest rates even further.
JIM CHALMERS EXCERPT: This is a budget for all of Australia. It pays particular attention to the most vulnerable, but it provides substantial help right through middle Australia.
ANGUS TAYLOR EXCERPT: Peter Dutton will be emphasizing what we have seen in this Budget, which is a big missed opportunity, a missed opportunity to provide help to hard working Australians trying to get ahead.
NARELDA JACOBS: And for more we're joined by Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume, Senator, thanks for joining us at midday. We'll get to the Budget reply in just a moment. But right now things are heating up in the Senate over the housing Future Fund. The Greens have been accused of colluding with the Coalition to block this. Why aren't you supporting the Housing Future Fund?
JANE HUME: Narelda, we believe that finding new and affordable housing is really important. In fact, I think this is a test of Anthony Albanese's leadership, when you're in Government at a Federal level as well as a State level in every State and Territory bar Tasmania,surely, surely Anthony Albanese could bang those Premiers heads together and open up new housing supply, which let's face it is the only way to sustainably bring down the price of housing make housing more affordable and more available to all Australians, including the 1.5 million new migrants that we're going to see in Australia over the next five years.
NARELDA JACOBS: But that being said, isn't this what the housing Future Fund is about? 30,000 homes over five years for the most vulnerable? Penny Wong this morning says these deliberate delays come at the expense of women and children fleeing domestic violence.
JANE HUME: The Housing Future Fund is simply one band aid solution to a much bigger problem, which is a problem of supply, not of demand. What we need to see is those Premiers working within their States to open up new fields and new supply of housing, because that's the only way you can sustainably bring it down. This is not the right solution to the problem that they are trying to fix.
NARELDA JACOBS: But aren’t they promising new homes, which is exactly what you're saying needs to happen?
JANE HUME: Those new homes won't exist unless supply is there and that's really up to the States and Territories. If they had any respect, if the Premiers had any real respect for Anthony Albanese and his leadership, that's exactly what they'd be doing. The Housing Future Fund, in fact, is an off-balance sheet fund that you're required to borrow to get there, and that's going to add to debt and that's going to be inflationary.
NARELDA JACOBS: Alright, so now let's look at the Budget and the Coalition is going pretty hard on the potential inflationary pressures. But the Treasurer says the slow release nature of the spending in the Budget will ensure inflation isn't something that we're going to be looking at. So what's the problem here?
JANE HUME: This is a traditional Labor big tax, big spend budget. In fact, there's an additional $185 billion in new spending just in this year alone since the Albanese government came to power. And the problem of that, of course, is it fuels inflation, the only way you can sustainably bring down the cost of living for all Australians is to reduce inflation. Inflation is the thief in the night. It erodes your purchasing power, it reduces your real wages, it eats at your savings, and it lowers your standard of living. We've seen inflation with a seven in front of it for the last three quarters in a row and yet in these Budget documents, they've actually removed the objective of lowering inflation for the first time. That's not a responsible budget. What we want to see is a reining in of expenditure because that's the only way you can send a message to the RBA, that your fiscal policy is working in line with monetary policy otherwise, the RBA has to do all the heavy lifting, it keeps its forcing interest rates up further, which is just going to place more pressure on ordinary Australian households.
NARELDA JACOBS: But when Jim Chalmers describes the way in which they're not flooding the economy at the same time with this spend, how exactly is it going to put any inflationary pressures on the economy?
JANE HUME: Well, they are in fact putting more money in certain areas of the economy, which will inevitably fuel inflation and you don't need to believe the opposition. You can look at the economists whether it be Chris Richardson, whether it be UBS, Goldman Sachs, even the bank economists that the Government were relying on to support their Budget have now come out and say actually, this has an inflationary effect and the longer that inflation lasts, that, you know, the higher and the longer that inflation is, we're more Australians will suffer more Australians will see an erosion of their purchasing power, a reduction in their real wages and a lowering of their standard of living. I think that Australians were expecting more of this Budget from Anthony Albanese and Jim Chalmers to help everybody and that doesn't necessarily only need to come in the form of handouts. It comes in the form of their commitment to lowering inflation and improving the cost of living by making sure that interest rates come down, and aren't pushed to go further up.
NARELDA JACOBS: Senator Hume, is Peter Dutton tonight going to oppose the Jobseeker rise in his Budget reply, the rise of $40 extra a fortnight?
JANE HUME: Well, I'm not going to preempt exactly what Peter Dutton is going to say in the Budget in reply speech tonight. What I will say in his last Budget in reply in October, I think you had very clearly what those principles are of the Coalition, getting more people into their own homes by allowing them to access their superannuation to temporarily put some money into a deposit, and then putting that money back in once they sell their first home and also the pension work bonus, which would have allowed older people to get into work, help with their own cost of living crisis, and meet the labor shortage issues, but at the same time, not eating away into their pension. These are things that are very important to us. There will be more tonight that you'll see from Peter Dutton. That will give a very clear picture of the issues that are important to the Liberal Party and the Coalition.
NARELDA JACOBS: Is Jobseeker important? How do you feel about the $40 a fortnight increase?
JANE HUME: Well, again, I'm not going to preempt what is going to be in the Budget in reply tonight. We want to make sure that disadvantaged Australians, that low income Australians are well looked after, that said, at a time when you have a one to one ratio of number of people looking for work, and the number on Jobseeker and the number of job vacancies available, the most important thing is transitioning those people into jobs. Jobseeker was never meant to be a wage subsidy. It's supposed to be a safety net and every dollar that a Government spends is $1 that somebody else earns, the most important thing we can do is get people that are looking for work into work.
NARELDA JACOBS: Senator Hume just lastly, raising concerns about what increased immigration might do to the housing crisis and its economic climate. Are you worried that this could stoke anti migrant sentiment?
JANE HUME: Certainly not, look, Australia has grown on the back of a great migrant story and migrants will continue to be a part of that story. But 1.5 million new migrants over the next five years. At the same time as you're cutting infrastructure that would be supporting that new migrant intake. That potentially is a recipe for disaster. We want to see a well managed migrant program that leads to more economic growth and prosperity for the entire nation. But if this program was poorly managed, if the doors had simply opened up, we're going to actually see a worsening of the housing crisis we could potentially see a worsening of economic conditions.
NARELDA JACOBS: Shadow Finance Minister Senator Jane Hume, thanks for joining us at midday.