Panel with Erin Molan and Graham Richardson, Paul Murray Live
20 April 2023
PAUL MURRAY: Senator Jane Hume Lovely to see you. Good to be with former senator and Labor legend our dear friend Graham Richardson. He joins us as well. And well future Senator if she'd like to there is a spot open. Of course, none other than the wonderful Erin Molan, lovely to see you. And thank you for keeping the picture of the holy one behind you. Now, there's a conversation about whether we should raise the dole or not. There was a conversation here between the Prime Minister and Andrew Clennell about this issue because remember, Labor tried to well not be very subtle that they were going to raise the dole but of course now they're not going to
(excerpt) ANDREW CLENELL: Is JobSeeker and single parent payments, could we see possible increases there given the cost of living crisis?
(excerpt) ANTHONY ALBANESE: A Labor Government will always look for ways in which we can provide assistance to those in need, will do so of course, though, in a context, the context here is we don't want to add to inflationary pressure.
PAUL MURRAY: That's waffle words for no. David Pocock wants it to change and he got played like a fiddle by the Labor Party who in exchange for giving unions more power set up an inquiry that they later ignored.
(excerpt) DAVID POCOCK: This is a payment that should mean that people are able to look at their options, apply for jobs, continue to live above the poverty line. While they try to get back into the workforce. If we value this as a country, if we believe that we should have a safety net that leaves no one behind. Then we need to be raising the rate of JobSeeker and Youth Allowance.
PAUL MURRAY: Jane, the truth about the dole is that it hasn't moved for a long time and moves every now and then in relation to inflation but it's it hasn't really moved as a big number and you don't want it to be a forever income, but it obviously has to be enough for people to pay their way through. You're doing cost of living right now. But you're also the shadow Finance Minister so you know, there's a big consequence if we did raise the dole, but surely the argument for it is getting clearer and clearer, isn't it?
JANE HUME: Well the thing is with JobSeeker Paul, is that it's never supposed to be a wage subsidy. It's not supposed to be a salary. It is supposed to be a safety net and there is hardly a country in the world that has a more generous safety net system than Australia. You tend not to just get JobSeeker you tend to get you know rental assistance, parenting payments, carers payments, all those sorts of things on top of it as well so it doesn't really stand alone and the most important thing I think, is that every dollar that a Government pays out is $1 that somebody else has earned and from a Finance Minister perspective, that's something that we've got to keep front of mind whenever we make a decision about something like raising the rate of JobSeeker. I think that the real big issue here is that David Pocock got totally played by the Labor Party. He made a deal in order to get those industrial relations reforms through. Labor said yes, we're going to do this economic inclusion committee, they put Jenny Macklin in charge. She's probably the preeminent voice in Australia on Social Security. They had 13 other people on that committee. I'm not entirely sure whether they're paid or not. We'll find that out another time and of course, then they buried this report at five o'clock in the afternoon on Tuesday just threw it out there that moment that the ink was already drying on there on the first edition of tomorrow's newspapers, which was a little bit cheeky, without even briefing David Pocock, who was the one that initiated this report. $34 billion with the recommendations in there. I can see why Jim Chalmers is not paying attention to that. But he certainly does have to do something about the cost of living. We know it's the number one issue right now. What is it that he can do that isn't going to raise inflation further and that's what the committee is looking at.
PAUL MURRAY: Richo again, you must admire the political skill of the Government at any one time. I gotta say the Government that is increasing taxes on 10 million people by $1,500, who promised to do something about the dole in Opposition but will do nothing about it in Government, is still rising in the polls. Tell me what the secret sauce is here. Because any of those things would be third rails for mere mortals.
GRAHAM RICHARDSON: Mate, I think you've just got to face the fact that this is Labor's era. We are riding the crest of a wave and that wave just doesn't seem to end and it just keeps going. There's no beach. So we're gonna stay there. I don't think the Labor Government has to do much to stay there.
PAUL MURRAY: Well don't you love it Erin? I mean, as I say, you know, they're about to raise taxes on 10 million people, $1,500, cost of living. If it was in reverse, we know that the hair would be set on fire and everyone who's screaming about stage three tax cuts. Well, they'd be able to have their yell now. But also, what about the Reserve Bank changes? It screams to me like a Government that is trying to move the goalposts again, go from 11 rate decisions a year to eight, because there's a chance they'll keep going up because inflation will keep going up because among other things, they're going to bring a million people into the country, which the reserve bank told us this week would help lead to higher inflation.
ERIN MOLAN: Yeah, it seems very self serving, but I think Richo has said it better than anyone else can. It doesn't matter what they do at the moment, there is no beach for that wave to crash down on and cost of living should be the number one concern for any Government in this country at the moment. Breakfast radio, we are speaking to everyday Australians, not politicians, not high end of town business, everyday Australians. We're doing a segment at the moment where we're helping people out and we're asking them, tell us what you want. Tell us what you need. And some of the things that people are ringing in, in tears about, breaks your heart. I'm not talking about high end holidays to Thailand or luxury mansions. People are saying they can't afford milk. They're having their coffee black and the luxury that they want. We gave a woman a year's worth of milk this morning because she can't afford milk at the moment for a coffee. People are doing it really, really tough. So the Government's got to get its priorities straight on the raising of the dole as well. You know, it'd be slightly easier to swallow the fact that the Government is now saying they're not going to do anything if they weren't using this to attack the Government on social media last year prior to being elected Anthony Albanese and Jim Chalmers both took potshots at the Government to not raising the amount prior to being elected. So if you're going to use it and weaponise it against the Government of the time, and then say on my book now we're going to do exactly what they did not raise it, then you know, you're being hypocritical.
PAUL MURRAY: But apparently the rules of this new ocean is that these rules did not apply. But alas, I agree with Richo about where things are heading at the moment. Anyway, enjoy the view my friend, sun yourself for as long as you can. Lidia Thorpe’s Dad was on Sky News earlier tonight. He said this about his daughter with Andrew Bolt.
(excerpt) ROY ILLINGWORTH: The way I see it, the way she is and always has changed over the years is that I think she's a very racist person against white people and she doesn’t acknowledge any of her white side, so I'm a bit disappointed in the way she's been carrying on lately. Because after all, she has got an English background, as well as Irish, a convict side of the English. So the way she's carrying on I don't know if he's probably been used by someone or some people. But normally she never used to be like that. Maybe it's the power that got into her head, I'm not sure.
PAUL MURRAY: One Nation, they do the cartoon series which is up every single week. I think the next edition is 7am tomorrow on all of their socials. They have got some stickers about Lidia Thorpe and her recent carry on outside the strip joints. If you want to, you can have a you stole my land, you are marked or the other two stickers on the back of your car, go to their website if you would like to have a look and purchase. But Jane, there is also another question here which is that Albo is talking about her mental health all the rest of it here but he will keep taking your vote in the Senate. He needs it to get anything done. If he doesn't have it, then he needs both of the Lambie Senators and that can be a problem in and of itself. At what point does Labor have to say we're not going to take a vote?
JANE HUME: Well, I think that the Government's always walking a fine line in the Senate in order to make the deal to get their legislation across the line and they'll do what needs to be done. We've already seen that. I thought that perhaps the Prime Minister's language today was a little bit patronising. This idea that perhaps she needs help. You know, obviously, Lidia has a very different social life to mine.
PAUL MURRAY: Any 50th’s at the strippers?
JANE HUME: Oh mate, I’m the Olympic flame. I never go out. I don't necessarily think that there is any need for patronising language towards her. Yes, of course, they'll court her vote. They'll court every crossbench vote. There's no doubt about it. But you know, I think there's an opportunity here for the Prime Minister to be a little bit dignified, so we're all representatives of the community and we should all behave with dignity at all times and that includes the Prime Minister as well as.
PAUL MURRAY: See Erin, I'm fluent in politician, especially one who also has to negotiate the numbers in the Senate and it feels like the Senator may well occasionally need to go and have a chat with Lidia Thorpe to maybe get some votes happening. So very politely handled. But again, this is what the PM had to say about that Senator.
(excerpt) JOURNALIST: Certainly her behavior is not a good advertisement for Australian politics, given she's a Senator, she'll be there for six years. Do you think it's right that somebody that carries on like Lidia Thorpe should be allowed to sit in the Australian Senate for six years?
(excerpt) ANTHONY ALABNESE: I hope that Lydia gets some support. I think that that level of behavior is quite clearly unacceptable and I think there are obvious issues that need to be dealt with in terms of her her health issues, these are not the actions of anyone who should be participating in, in society in a normal way, let alone a Senator.
PAUL MURRAY: Richo, Senator Thorpe said to The Guardian in the statement today there is a history of white men in power using the media to attack and demonise black people that stand up to racism. Saying that I need mental health is a continuation of the old racist and misogynistic narrative used to discredit and silence outspoken strong women, particularly black women. Whose side are you on?
GRAHAM RICHARDSON: I think the expression is mad as a cut snake and I think that just about sums her up. She will do anything for a headline. I've never seen anyone in politics as desperate for the headlines as this woman. So there'll be stunts galore in the future. They haven't stopped, they've only just begun.
PAUL MURRAY: Alright Erin, there's been a big roll this week about whether we should change laws in and around the abuse that people are receiving as sports stars. Now you are the perfect person to talk about this for the most obvious of reasons, you've been able to change laws of the past but can I come at this from a slightly different angle, which is absue is horrible, all the examples of the abuse is horrible, no question whatsoever. But how do you regulate that space? If people want to be nasty if they want to put their actual name to it? What are you supposed to do? You're supposed to automatically bounce these people. They lose their right to Twitter, I'm sure unverified egg accounts, get rid of them. But what do you think about this?
ERIN MOLAN: eah, it's a fascinating space and I've been intimately involved in this world for many, many years, many more years than I would have liked to have been and it's really hard to get the balance right and one thing that I'm really passionate about when it comes to this space, particularly the online safety app, which was world first and the former Government was, you know, leading the globe when it came to that and it's really effective legislation on the occasions that it's been used so far. It's still very new. It's exceeded on all six occasions in getting content removed, where formal complaints have been made in about 80% of occasions where thousands of informal complaints have been made. The issue with people being nasty on social media, is you just can't please everything. You can't force a society to be kind. I wish you could. You've got to allow people to speak freely and even if at times that is nasty, I don't consider myself a nasty person. I'd never go online and write something mean. The thought of making someone feel awful makes me feel physically ill. We really want to be a society where we are clamping down on people in a mean way and having laws that stopped that. The whole reason the Online Safety Act passed was the fact that the threshold was at a criminal level. So you threatened to rape my child or you threatened to kill me. Absolutely. This can come into play and we can force the social media companies to take it down. You say that I'm a flog or wanker, okay, whatever, you're an asshole, but we should not be able to, you know, force people to take that down and charge them with criminal offenses. We've got to get the balance right. It's a nasty murky world. It makes people feel awful. I don't read a comment. I don't read anything anymore. That's how I survived it. I just don't think we can legislate and regulate everything. We need an element of free speech and an element of backbone, a bit of resilience as well. It's a hard one.
PAUL MURRAY: Alright, the 20th of April in American day terms is 420 which is a marijuana reference. Which brings me to my final topic here. Yes or no from all of you. I think they're going to legalise pot in Australia in the next four years. Why? Because if you look at the makeup of the Victorian Upper House, they can't pass any legislation without the Legalise Cannabis people and then you see New South Wales Upper House has just been confirmed and guess what? They can't pass anything without the Legalise Cannabis people. The Lib Dems could help them there as well. So I don't know how it'll be done. But my prediction is they legalise pot in the next four years. Richo, that's the rules under which both Labor in New South Wales and Victoria work where they can't pass anything without this single issue party. So the single issue party has only one thing to ask them and they'll pass everything else.
GRAHAM RICHARDSON: Yeah the single issue party has got a lot of power in that circumstance. I would never vote to legalise cannabis. I wouldn't care what the arrangements were. I would never do it. The evidence that I've seen over the years, particularly when I was Health Minister suggests to me that it still does great harm. Now obviously, there's medical use and you separate that because that's obviously got to continue. That's very important for some people for pain relief and things that I'm obviously not going to interfere with that, but I'm not a fan of marijuana. I don't use it. I will never use it. Yes, I did try and yes, I did inhale. But I didn't like it. In fact, that made me vomit. So I never had any sense.
PAUL MURRAY: Well, I'm a super square. I have never tried, I have never inhaled. We all know what my vices are. Jane, you can go yes or no if you want. Do you think this will get legalised in the next four years?
JANE HUME: I hope it won’t, I really hope it won't. I think that we've seen the evidence in other countries that it does have implications for broader society as well. I went to New York last year for the first time in a decade. Everywhere you go, it's quite extraordinary to walk down the street and then all of a sudden you just get this giant waft and you know exactly what it was. You think, that guy behind me is stoned. That guy opposite me on the subway is stoned. It's a really strange feeling and I don't think it actually enhances society in any way shape or form, so I’m hoping not.
PAUL MURRAY: I'm out of time, so everyone has to guess what Erin's opinion is. They can hear it tomorrow, congrats, by the way, massive ratings and well done, top of the tree for the best part of the past 10 years well done to you and all of the team do appreciate it. All right. Thank you guys.