Panel with Kenny Heatley and Jenny McAllister, Sky News
30 June 2023
KENNY HEATLEY: Welcome back to our returning weekly Friday show Hume and McAllister each week Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume and Assistant Climate Change and Energy Minister Jenny McAlister, face off and fire up on the big news and political developments. Jane Jenny welcome. Now as custom we kick off the show with some opening arguments and uninterrupted rant, anything that's on your mind, I think we've got 60 seconds on the clock. Jenny, let's begin with you this week.
JENNY MCALLISTER: Thank you. So legislation to change the childcare subsidy kicks in tomorrow, and it will mean a very significant benefit for 1.2 million Australian families across the country. Aside from the mortgage, childcare is often one of the biggest bills that families have to pay. And this is an important and practical measure to assist with cost of living. It'll help with household budgets, but it will also mean that parents are able to get back into the workforce or take up extra hours of paid work if they want to. matters a lot for families. But it matters particularly for women. workforce participation obviously supports women's financial security and economic well being. But it matters for kids to these measures and expanding the access to care means that children can experience the benefits that we know come about from access to early learning no matter what their background, or what their postcode is. This is an important reform. It's a reform that was announced by the Prime Minister in his first budget reply speech as Opposition Leader. He campaigned on it, took it to the election and we're getting on with it.
KENNY HEATLEY: Thank you Jenny. Time's up. I'm not sure how Tom Connell runs with this but I'm sticking to a very strict time. All right, thank you so much for that.
JANE HUME: Kenny, you're tough.
KENNY HEATLEY: I know. Absolutely. We're sticking to time today. Jane, what's on your mind this week over to you?
JANE HUME: Well, the R word recession Kenny is seems to be popping up more in the vernacular. In fact, Shane Oliver, respected economists from ANP said now that he believes it's around a 50 per cent probability of a recession this year. Now, a year ago we came out of COVID in a pretty good position, lower unemployment, growing economy and business and consumer confidence up a lot of that seems to have been reversed now. And we saw the economy slowing to just 0.2 per cent in the March quarter. It hasn't been that low since both New South Wales and Victoria were both in lockdown at the same time. So what can the government do to turn this around? Well, the most important thing they can do is invest in productivity. Productivity enhancing policies, but unfortunately, the budget actually forecasts productivity to be going down. What we need to see is lower cheaper energy, more investment in diverse sources of energy, industrial relations laws that are flexible so we can encourage people to employ more people or more employees and cutting red tape, and increasing competition.
KENNY HEATLEY: Well done. Thank you. Alright, let's move to our first topic. Now. Inflation is retreating. We saw that with the latest figures falling to 5.6 per cent in May from a year ago. It's still well above the Reserve Bank's target band, about 2 to 3 per cent. But it is giving hopes of fewer additional interest rate hikes. However, households are expecting more price shocks particularly with energy starting next financial year from tomorrow with the eastern states expecting electricity bills to climb about 20 to 25 per cent. You've also got a pay hike to the temporary skilled migration visa holders to $70,000. That's fueling warnings from the National Farmers Federation that farmers will be passing those costs on at the checkout at the supermarket first to you Jenny. Is there more pain ahead? Do you think in the financial year or our inflation numbers gonna keep going down?
JENNY MCALLISTER: We've been very upfront about the challenges facing the Australian economy largely as a consequence of the war in Ukraine and the very big shocks that are rippled through the globe as a consequence of that. Of course, it's welcome news that inflation does seem to be moderating in the economy. But then we enter this period of some level of uncertainty with some real real pluses in our corner, moderating inflation, higher levels of employment and of course, a budget that is in a significant way stronger position than it would have been had we taken the approach of our predecessors. We took some very important decisions to responsibly manage the budget, and that of course is revealing itself did seem quite quite good shape. So it is going to be a difficult year. We've been very upfront about that. But the targeted relief that we provided in the budget will help families but there's no doubt we're in for a difficult period globally and that will have consequences for Australian families also.
KENNY HEATLEY: Jane, I guess you agree that that we've got a difficult next financial year ahead?
JANE HUME: Well, I think that Australians are really feeling the pain right now of a dozen interest rate rises. So you would hope to see headline inflation come down. The problem is it does seem to be headline inflation, not that underlying core inflation which removes seasonal factors that removes fuel prices, and it also removes travel, that's still really sticky. It's come down from 6.5%, but only to 6.4%. And, that's really not low enough for the RBA to to say 'right, well, we can ease the foot off the brake a little bit' and that's the real concern. I think for Australians out there now that are still feeling a tough we're already seeing that we're expecting electricity prices to rise another 14% Just this year. That's a real concern. I think for Australians that are you know, doing a tough at the grocery checkout, struggling to pay their mortgages, watching their rents rise, speak to the average person on the street. They're not feeling better than off than they were just 12 months ago and it looks like there's more pain ahead.
KENNY HEATLEY: Yeah. So a quick answer from you both if I can. Australians going to be worse off financially in the next financial year, do you think?
JANE HUME: Yeah. Inevitably, people are going to feel worse off particularly once their mortgages start moving off from those fixed rates to variable rates that's really going to kick in in the next few months.
KENNY HEATLEY: Jenny?
JENNY MCALLISTER: We know it's going to be a tough year. We've been upfront about that the budget was all about trying to provide targeted relief where we could. Cheaper medicines, better access to bulk billing, increases to rent assistance, to assistance with energy bills. All of these things are measures that were put in place to try and assist families, but we know it's going to be a tough year.
KENNY HEATLEY: Okay, moving on to another topic that I want to cover. It was Australia's biggest visitor saw source market in 2019. China, the latest country to see Ruby the route appear in a new focus campaign. I think we've got a little bit of that, that we can show you as well. To reboot Chinese tourism posed a pandemic. visitors from China 33% of pre pandemic levels not expected to return to pre COVID levels until 2026. Jenny, starting with you, are we doing enough to lure visitors back to the country and has the shine of Australia, the perception of Australia as a destination overseas, not as it once was?
JENNY MCALLISTER: Well, tourism around the globe of course ground to a halt during the pandemic. It's really important to our economy and particularly our regional economies that we kick started again, for Australian visitation. Really the route is a really nice campaign. I think your viewers might have seen Ruby. She's a really warm and appealing character and we're really confident that she'll be a character that engages some of those audiences. In China that would, we'd like to see come back as visitors. She's been very popular in other markets.
KENNY HEATLEY: Jane, is Ruby Roo and Australian animals enough do you think to bring Chinese travelers back to our country?
JANE HUME: I don't think it's even good to touch the sides, Kenny. I mean, we have to make sure that we make Australia an attractive destination and an affordable destination to but from this government, we've seen things like the Working Holiday Visa go up in cost from $130 to $640. How's that supposed to attract young backpackers it'll come and travel around provide employment you know work opportunities to farmers into a hospitality industry now these are the people that are really going to make a difference to a thriving and thriving tourism industry here and seems like the government's doing all this you know all the glossy stuff on the outside, Ruby the Roo, but why charge working holiday makers even more to come to Australia
KENNY HEATLEY: Just quickly because we're running out of time we've got the New South Wales school holidays, kicking off this afternoon. First to you, Jenny, what's your favorite winter getaway, if you've got any tips for us? Where do you like to go in the winter?
JENNY MCALLISTER: You know, mine's very homely. I was born in Murwillumbah and my mum and dad are still on the tweet. So actually my favorite winter holidays to get back up there. Settle into mum and dads and head down to the beach at Kingscliff or into Coochin Creek for a swim. It's a pretty nice part of our family life actually.
KENNY HEATLEY: I can see you shut your eyes and you just went there just briefly. I did. Jane, what about you?
JANE HUME: It's always very hard for Victorians to plan a winter holiday because it all depends on the football season, doesn't it? Whether your team is headed towards the finals or not as to whether you can book something, and in fact, there was one year where St. Kilda we're headed towards the final so I withheld booking a holiday which was fantastic. I was gonna go the day after the ground file and wouldn't you know, it was a draw and then they had the following week, so I missed it but the good thing was secured it didn't win in the drawer anyway, so I felt like I was justified.
KENNY HEATLEY: So shape your holidays around sport in the winter is what you're saying.
JANE HUME: Yeah, absolutely in Victoria,
KENNY HEATLEY: Jenny McAllister, Jane Hume, thanks so much for joining us. I hope you have a fantastic weekend. We'll catch up with you again soon.