Money News with Luke Grant, Scott Emerson, John Stanley and Tom Elliott
25 October 2022
Luke Gran's here, Scott Emerson, and Senator Jane Hume, the Shadow Minister for Finance, is here. Good evening to you, Senator.
JANE HUME: Great to be with you, fellas.
PRESENTER: Yeah, I'm guessing you're not happy with what you've seen tonight.
JANE HUME: I would imagine most Australians aren't happy with what they've seen tonight. This budget was always going to be a test for Labor. It was a test to see whether there could be issues that are important to everyday Australians ahead of their own, and they have failed on all counts. That first of all failed to consolidate and build upon the improving budget, position and economic conditions that were left to them by the coalition. And in fact, over the medium term, both growth desperate and net debt is getting worse. They failed to deliver a single cost of the living measure to Australians that are doing it tough because nothing kicks in, at least for two years. Energy interest rates alone will see an average Australian family about $2,000 worse off by Christmas this year. They failed to contain inflation, they haven't managed their spending. Under Labor, inflation will be higher and will be higher for longer. And they've failed in their own benchmark of quality spending, better spending. We heard Jim Chalmers say that that’s what they were going to do, well productivity is in fact down under Labor. And worst of all, they've not only broken their election commitment to lower energy prices by $275. The prices will be up by 50% over the next two years and 30% this year. So I think you've got to look past the speech that was full of sunshine and rainbows. This is actually a miserable budget. Real wages, and growth, employment are all down spending is up. Tax receipts are up that bracket creep at work, and in the medium term, you've got debt and deficit up energy prices, skyrocketing inflation forecast over 7%, and a typical Australian family will be worse off under Labor.
PRESENTER: What would you have done it? Give us two or three things you would have done, what would Josh Frydenberg have done had you been elected?
JANE HUME: Well, we presented a budget at the beginning of this year, which showed $18 billion or less in spending than Labor went to the election committed to but they haven't just stopped there. They've actually gone further. They've spent money on initiatives that weren't even election commitments, things like-
PRESENTER: But just on the cost of living, what would you have done to deal with the cost of living?
JANE HUME: I think you saw what we did to deal with the cost of living in our budget back in March. In fact, we removed the excise on fuel prices as a temporary measure.
PRESENTER: That was gonna go back up. I'm just asking what you would have done tonight to deal with the fact that, say, energy prices, what would you have done tonight?
JANE HUME: Well, the most important thing we would have done is not have our spending so high because the moment you've got your spending so high. Well, that means that you've got that inflationary pressure. Your fiscal policy isn't working in line with your monetary policy prices.
PRESENTER: And just on gas prices, and energy prices, electricity prices. What would you have done tonight?
JANE HUME: Well, this is the thing, one of the biggest costs to Australians right now is their mortgages, and that's because interest rates are being pushed up by the RBA because the RBA has got its foot on the brake and the government's got its foot on the pedal. You've got to have your fiscal policy and your monetary policy. Working in the same direction. So that's what we would have done we would have made sure that spinning was contained rather than just letting loose-
PRESENTER: And that would have brought power prices down?
JANE HUME: and push and put all the onus back onto the RBA.
PRESENTER: That would have brought power prices down?
JANE HUME: Well, I think the power prices. The Labor government's policies of a huge number of renewables into the system already pushing prices up. So, you know, we knew what our energy policy was under a Coalition government I should say energy prices came down in the last two years.
PRESENTER: But they were going up with the last election. They were already going back up, and you know that.
JANE HUME: They came down in the last two years of our government, and now we're back, and now we're seeing them go up under Labor.
PRESENTER: Alright. Let me ask you about superannuation, Senator. We know what it's designed to do that is at the end of our working life. Give us something to live on. But now, apparently, it's going to fund the housing policy of the federal government and one or two other things. Do you think that there is an appetite within the Australian superannuation funds to get into, you know, building a million homes across the country in the next four or five years?
JANE HUME: Well, let's face it, if there were money in this for superannuation funds, they would have invested in an already superannuation funds and have an obligation to act in the best financial interest of the members. This is not a pool of funds that's available for the government to deliver its own policies, its individual accounts, and individual savings. You earned it, you saved it, and it's for your retirement. It's not a plaything of government. It's not a plaything of fund managers. That's where that money will come from. That money has to be invested on behalf of members in their best financial interest. If that investment were a good investment, they would have been in there already.
PRESENTER: So it is the fact that the union funds have all that money under management, and the government has made it attractive for them to throw money at this. This housing project. The National Rental Affordability Scheme was the last time Labor had a crack at this. All we ended up with was about half of what they projected, and they were full of rich students from overseas. You've got to look at this pretty carefully because this is potentially on steroids, a pretty ordinary policy that doesn't work the way it should.
JANE HUME: Somebody's got to pick up the slack. Is it going to be the taxpayer, or will it be the person saving for their retirement? Because somewhere along the line, somebody loses.
PRESENTER: Jane Hume, I'm interested you're talking about electricity as a broken election promise. What about wages? The two things we heard from Anthony Albanese during the election campaign were about bringing down electricity prices and gas prices. That turned $75 lower but also about seeing real wage increases. What's your reaction to the numbers we've seen tonight on this?
JANE HUME: Well, in fact, there are no real wage increases that are forecast right across the life of this government once again. You know, Tony Burke was the one that said before the election that Australians are going to feel a Labor government in their hip pocket, that they would feel it when they go to their bank accounts. Well, I think that they probably are, but not for the reasons that Tony Burke was anticipating. Real wages are not going up. In fact, real wages are going backwards for a while yet because inflation is so high that's why it's so important to set your policy parameters so that inflationary pressures are reduced and reduce your spending so that the RBA doesn't have to keep pushing up inflation and pushing up interest rates. So it gets inflation back to that 2 to 3% band.
PRESENTER: You might argue that's a broken promise, but the track record of the coalition was that we saw real wages going backwards at a rapid rate.
JANE HUME: Well, the most important thing the coalition did was make sure that we're investing in a productive capacity of the economy. We wanted the economy to grow sustainably to make sure that unemployment was low. When we left office, you'll recall that unemployment had a three in front of it, and and a downward trajectory when more people were employed, and more people had jobs. Well, you don't think the economy is better off if there's less dependence on welfare. That way, you get your spending under control which seems to have gone out the door. It's no longer an objective of this government we're seeing over 140,000 jobs forecast to be lost in next year alone. That's a real concern for Australians when the cost of living is going up, and the chances of them losing their jobs increases as well. Well, there's not much to look forward to.
PRESENTER: Senator, they said they go through the last budget, your last budget, line by line to find ways they can wreak. Did you expect to find or hear more or less than what the treasurer spoke about in that area?
JANE HUME: I was very disappointed to see that their idea of wasting bullets was cutting the guts out of regional infrastructure. You know, there are so many projects that communities were relying on for their productive capacity that are now gone, things like the Rockhampton ring road, and instead, that money's been funnelled into different Labor priority projects. Things like the 2.2 billion dollars that's been dedicated to Daniel Andrews suburban road loop in Melbourne, which we know is an election promise for a state election. It's only five weeks away. Now Anthony Albanese knows that project hasn't gone to Infrastructure Australia. This is the body that he set up to make sure that infrastructure spending was done with a cost-benefit analysis. It hasn't gone through Infrastructure Australia. In fact of, the Victorian Auditor General said that it wasn't good value for money. So that idea of quality spending or redirecting waste and rorts. I mean, I think that that's just outrageous to have done that five weeks before the election is so brazen,
PRESENTER: Just as a follow on in my head, just in relation to a lot of our listeners, people who are on fixed incomes, pensioners in particular, had a lot of people talking about that. They are feeling the cost of living wages and the measures to deal with the cost of living on things like cheap medicines and the like, but in terms of the energy goals, well, that's something that can't agree. Would you have done more there in that area regarding pensioners, people on fixed incomes, to try and assist them?
JANE HUME: Yeah, look, the pensions do go up by they're indexed, which is a good thing which will help in some way, but if your energy bills are going up and growing at a faster rate than inflation, Well, indexation isn't going to help anybody. One of the policies that we announced back in June of this year because we could see that the cost of living was affecting people on fixed incomes was to allow pensioners to go back to work without it affecting their pensions. They could work an extra couple of days or an extra few hours here and there that would supplement their income, but it would also feel the labour shortage gap that we saw, particularly for small businesses. Now Labor has had an opportunity to take on that policy since June, and they have ignored it all of that time. They introduced their own policy, but it's a shorter timeframe. It's less generous and, therefore to be less effective. I think that's a real shame because there are a lot of older Australians out there that would be grateful for the opportunity to be able to go back to work, you know, use their skills, use their time effectively to improve their cost of living situation and also feel those skills gap, and it's been denied to them.
PRESENTER: Jane Hume, thanks for your time tonight. I'm sure we'll talk again very soon.