STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Somebody that was there when all this happened is the chair of the Select Committee on the Cost of Living, Senator Jane Hume Senator, just extraordinary scenes yesterday.
JANE HUME: Stephen, the behavior we saw from the Greens was totally disgraceful. There's no other way to put it. But unfortunately, it doesn't really come as a surprise. We saw Mehreen Faruqi in the aftermath of the horrific attacks on Israel from Hamas on the seventh of October, send out an appalling tweet as did Adam Bandt. This is a time when we should be standing with Israel because let's face it, Israel is acting in self defense and it is unbelievable that the Greens are out trying to exploit what is an appalling situation. I think that the Greens probably need to take a long, hard look at themselves and think about what this message sends when they behave like this and Labor do need to respond to because let's face it, there's a few of those on the other side of the chamber from me that are a little wobbly on this issue. That have not been as unequivocal as the Coalition have been in solidarity with Israel. And I think a few of them would have liked it to have walked out alongside the Greens.
STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: And I think that the reality is that you've got to separate the ongoing dispute between Israel and Palestine from what actually happened on the seventh of October and that is that a terrorist organisation that has effectively hijacked one of the Palestinian territories is not doing the citizens of Palestine any favor, attacking civilians, murdering those civilians. And when you call for a ceasefire, do they honestly believe that the terrorists are going to listen to that?
JANE HUME: It is extraordinary that the seventh of October was such a horrific event that it specifically targeted civilians that are specifically targeted, young people, women, children, babies. The difference between Israel's response to Hamas response in Gaza where they have actively tried to warn citizens that they have a ground offensive, they've actively tried to get citizens, ordinary innocent civilians out of the way of the onslaught opposite to what Hamas had done in Israel. You couldn't have a stark difference.
STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: No two ways about that. Let's look at things close to the home for a moment. The Reserve Bank is likely to increase interest rates again later today. It's almost as if, and I've started referring to him as the federal passenger rather than the federal treasurer because Jim Chalmers doesn't seem to have any response to this other than to hand over or abrogate his responsibility to the Reserve Bank, who only have one blunt, sledge hammer tool available to them.
JANE HUME: That's exactly right. You know, we're all going to be holding our breath for the race that stops the nation today, but just before that, I think that most Australians are gonna be holding their breath to see if there's another interest rate rise. There's been 11 in the last 16 months. And there's only one reason that interest rates are rising, and that's because inflation is too high. And the Albanese Government has no plan to get under control. A hope and a prayer is not a plan. We want to see the RBA has to be able to take his foot off the brake just a little bit to give people a chance to breathe because right now we're seeing, you know, a family with a mortgage of 750,000 paying an extra $22,000 a year right now. That's not the sort of money you find on the back of the couch. And of course, it's only going to get worse if there's another rate rise today. One other thing queues out the door for Foodbank, food charities, and these are people with two jobs in the family. These are people with mortgages that are seeking assistance, and there's a direct correlation we heard on the Cost of Living Committee. Energy companies told us there is a direct correlation between interest rate rises, and the number of people that go on hardship programs to pay their energy bills.
STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: The Prime Minister is in China at the moment. Look, I think it's we've got to give credit where it's due I mean, any thawing of the relationship is a good thing. We're hearing rumblings that various tariffs are going to be lifted, but nothing concrete as yet from what I understand.
JANE HUME: Well, that's right. This is going to be a real test of the strength and substance of Anthony Albanese. It's got to be more than just that ceremonial symbolism, more than just a photograph, doing impersonations of Gough Whitlam. Of course, we wanted to see the best possible relationship between Australia and China but it has to be an honest relationship and has to be a forthright relationship. We have to be very clear about what our expectations would be. So you know, while they're very important trading partner, those economic sanctions were formed with economic coercion that have been imposed on Australian businesses. They were illegal; they were a breach of the free trade agreement we had with China. And if that hadn't gone to the World Trade Organisation that would have China would have been found to be in breach of their agreements.
STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Have we done enough in the meantime, though, to expand our markets and look for alternatives? Because, you know, I know it's fair to say that China represents a quarter of our trade, but I mean, a quarter is not 75%. So I mean, if we were actively out there looking for other markets, we probably could have maybe not made up the whole quarter but made up a fair, fair bit of ground there.
JANE HUME: Well actually we did make up a fair bit of ground and we have free trade agreements with Korea, South Korea with Japan now with the UK as well. There's also the CPTPP, which is a mouthful, but that's obviously a multilateral agreement and one that China would like to enter and one that they would like to use and leverage a renewed relationship with Australia to get into. Unfortunately though, there are an awful lot of rules about being in the TPP and having state owned organizations and using economic coercion and the sanctions are against those rules. So there's an interesting trade off in this relationship. I would very much like to see exactly what it is that Anthony Albanese has offered up whether the CCP, whether China has a renewed relationship with renewed expectations of what Australia will be able to do for them. Let's face it, it was China that moved this relationship. It wasn't Australia.
STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: No two ways about that. If you're gonna tip for the cup before we go?
JANE HUME: I do. It's Absurde. Absurd spelt with an E at the end. And there's two reasons why it's seven letters. And of course Pharlap was a seven letter word as well, that must be lucky. But the other reason is the Senate is sitting this week in Canberra and yet, there are only two ministers here that can answer questions, and there's no legislation to debate. It is truly absurd that the Albanese Government has decided that this should be a sitting week when we should all be down at the cup.
STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Well if the Greens continue their boycott it will be less absurd. Senator Jane Hume, thanks for your time this morning.