TOM CONNELL: Joining me now is the Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume for what is a regular chat, albeit not with your offsider of course, Jenny McAllister. Jane, cost of living I know it’s sort of front of mind for you. We’ve got a mid-year budget coming up. So get on the front foot here, pre-empt what the government might be doing. What do you think is needed here to tackle this issue?
JANE HUME: Well, quite frankly, we didn't need a mid-year budget to do this. The Prime Minister said that his New Year's resolution was to bring down the cost of living something that he has decidedly, obviously, arguably failed at. We've now seen that real disposable incomes in Australia because of high inflation, because of high interest rates and because of high taxes, have actually declined more than in any other developing country. I think that's an indictment on the fact that this Government does not have a plan to tackle inflation. Michele Bullock has come out now and said that inflation can't be blamed by overseas factors. It is, in fact, homegrown inflation. Inflation is coming from Canberra. It's not coming from Russia. It's not coming from the Middle East. It's coming from Canberra. And that's something that the government has resoundingly failed to deal with. It hasn't got a plan to tackle inflation and if you can't tackle inflation, you can't tackle the cost of living and for that reason, a lot of Australians are going to have a very tough Christmas this year, because this government has failed in its duty.
TOM CONNELL: Okay, one element that is coming from overseas literally that is adding to inflation is migration. Particularly around probably one of the pointier issues for people housing, housing supply and rent. Does the government need to look at the demand driven side of this? Temporary migration is totally uncapped and is going way ahead of prediction. Does that need a look at urgently and perhaps a reduction?
JANE HUME: Certainly the Government seems to have raised the white flag on migration and said this is out of our control. And that seems to be a pretty common refrain for the Government. This is out of our control, so therefore, we'll just have to ride it out. Well, that's simply not good enough, whether it be on inflation, whether it be on migration supply side and the demand side factors. The Government needs to have a plan to tackle inflation, whether that includes migrations, whether that includes government spending, whether it includes productivity measures, all of those things should be on the table to tackle inflation unless you tackle inflation you are simply waving the white flag on cost of living.
TOM CONNELL: But in terms of that, you say it's out of the Government's hand, that this policy has been a long standing one where its demand driven was the same under the Coalition. Do you think it's time now to specifically look at-
JANE HUME: No sorry, I didn't say that it was out of the Government's hands. I said that it's actually well within the Government's remit, well within their control. And inflation, a) wasn't a problem and under those excessive-
TOM CONNELL: Well it's not on the current settings on migration. It's not in terms of the big driver of this temporary migration that's demand driven. So should there be a pause or reduction on that in some way in the short term to alleviate this pressure?
JANE HUME: Just because a program is demand driven doesn't necessarily mean it's out of the Government's control. There are settings that the Government can put into place and that's the problem. I think that the government has said that this isn't this is this isn't something we can do something about and that is a failure of leadership. It certainly is. Something that they could do something about, but more importantly, is services inflation that is driving inflation now and that's what Michele Bullock has pointed to. She said services inflation is the problem. Services inflation is driven by a number of things. But what you could do to alleviate it is not have these massive interventions in the energy market that are pushing energy prices higher cause businesses then have to pass that on in the form of higher prices, industrial relations reforms pushing up wages without corresponding productivity increases also add to the inflationary pressures. That's services inflation. And of course you could make better efforts to address productivity failures in this country by improving competition, by cutting red tape. All of those things should be on the agenda. But because the government doesn't have a plan to deal with inflation, doesn't have a plan to tackle inflation, it's going to be staying higher for longer, interest rates are higher for longer, real wages go backwards, as Australians are going to face a very tough Christmas.
TOM CONNELL: Government's all about priority. So the government is pushing ahead with its so-called prominence laws to give Free TV prominence on Smart TV, so apps from the Free TV broadcasters. It's not going ahead though with advice from the commissioner on age verification. So these are competing priorities, I suppose, within the media landscape. What do you make of those priorities?
JANE HUME: Absolutely, I'm scratching my head and wondering how you can be talking about which app is more prominent on your television while people are wondering how they're going to put a meal on the table at Christmas time. Quite frankly, this is a demonstration of a government whose priorities are all wrong, who have taken their eye off the ball. The announcement that the Coalition has made today is that a Coalition government will in fact try to protect Australian children from online harm by establishing as the eSafety Commissioner has recommended a trial into age verification for these adults sites. Now this is something that the UK have already done. They have done it quite successfully for some reason, even though this was a recommendation of the eSafety Commission that's been ignored by the government. In fact, they have said that they are going they think it's a distraction, that they will turn all over to industry codes, those industry codes could take years to put into place. In fact, this program could cost as little as I think $6.7 billion sorry, $6.7 million, just to have a trial of this system, the only organisation that has backed in the government's position to leave it over to industry codes. It was a women's project and children's protection agencies have rightly condemned the government ignoring this recommendation of the Safety Commissioner. So the Coalition, if elected to government, will put in place that trial to protect Australian children online.