Panel with Sarah Abo and Sofie Formica, Today Show
SARAH ABO: Welcome back thanks for your company today. Well there are fresh revelations this morning on the cancellation of Victoria's Commonwealth Games with an Andrews backed report warning the Premier of Budget Blow-outs back in 2019. Joining us to discuss today's headlines is 4BC's Sofie Formica in Brisbane and Liberal Senator Jane Hume who will join us momentarily in Melbourne. But Sofie, let's come to you first. Now, despite recommendations to host the Games in 2034, the Andrews Government pushed ahead for 2026. Does this suggest it was doomed from the start?
SOFIE FORMICA: Yeah, potentially. Sarah It does look like that, doesn't it? I think at this point what we can see here is that there are plenty of questions that are being asked and not a lot of answers that are forthcoming. And it does there are some parallels, obviously to what's going on here in the preparation being nine years away from Brisbane hosting 2032. And I'm not suggesting that the Commonwealth Games are anything like the Olympics. We know that they're very different beasts, but when it comes to costings decisions that are made behind closed doors, I think it's only fair that now people are wondering how it was that he waited until this point to come forward to say, Look, this might not be looking like it's going to turn out the way that we'd anticipated. It was something that he took into the last election. It worked very well from a campaign perspective. Now that things have got a little bit tough, we're pulling the pin. I think one of the questions a lot of people are asking is, did you not look at Plan B if you knew that there was going to be a cost Blow-out associated with it being a regional Games what would it have looked like if it had gone back to being more centralised And then, you know, cancelling the contract is going to cost money. What does that look like? I don't think, again that the Premier is going to be able to hide behind any sort of commercial and confidence clause. I think the people of Victoria are going to want to know what the costs are that are going to be associated with deciding now that the Games won't go ahead in Victoria.
SARAH ABO: Yeah. So if you think you're right making the point there about more questions than answers at the moment and this is the problem, you know, I think when you agree to take on a big event like this, you do need to have some transparency and promising the regions one thing and then not delivering and now trying to make up for it. I mean, surely that doesn't wash with the public?
SOFIE FORMICA: No it doesn't. But then on the other hand, Sarah, and you would know this, you know, you've got lots of friends and family in Victoria. There are many Victorians who are really happy about the decision that it's not going ahead. So, you know, one thing is happening politically and behind closed doors and between the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee and the Victorian Government, yet on the ground we know that plenty of Victorians are saying it's a great thing that the games aren't going to be happening. You know, anecdotally I was just speaking to somebody last night who used to live in Melbourne and is back there now for business and said they have never seen the homelessness situation the way that it is now on the streets of Melbourne. So we know that there are challenges right across the country and that Melbourne and Victoria are not immune to them I think the one thing is going to be the future accountability. If Dan Andrews is saying we're not going to spend the money on the games because it needs to be spent elsewhere, there will now need to be movement there. And I really hope that addressing some of those issues and in particular those that are sleeping rough will be on the top of the to do list.
SARAH ABO: No, you're absolutely right there, Sofie, about the public's accepting that perhaps the games isn't the best idea. But the issue I think Jane will bring you in is that people, while they agree the cost was too great to bear, aren't happy with the process that's caused, you know, all of this angst and unrest because people are left in the lurch. I mean, there are businesses out there, athletes, of course, who have been impacted by this. If they knew if the government knew that there was likely to be a cost blow-out, you know, a year ago, why did they push through with this?
JANE HUME: People are scratching their heads, Sarah, and wondering how we signed up for this in the first place when we knew we were already going to be the most indebted state. Our debt in Victoria is bigger than Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania combined and it was already the case before we signed up to the Games. Moreover, all of these rural and regional communities have been promised so much in the way of infrastructure and also an opportunity to showcase themselves on the on a global stage. And that's all fallen by the wayside. So I think you've just got to scratch your head and wonder how on earth these promises got made with a straight face. They looked people in the eye and it was prior to an election. Let's not forget, they looked people in the eye and they said, We're going to deliver this. They've failed to deliver it. And this is because of the economic mismanagement of this government. And Sofie's right heads should roll over this. You know, in any other state, there would be a minister that was responsible for this debacle and they would resign. But that's not going to happen in Victoria. This is going to be made out to be the economically responsible thing to do. Well, the economically responsible thing to do would be to have not done it in the first place because it's going to cost billions to get out of.
SARAH ABO: Yeah. And guess the cost of how much it actually will be to get out is yet to be known. All right. Let's move on now. More power price pain is set to hit households in the coming months as an El Nino forecast looms. Jane, wholesale electricity prices are already spiking. The summer outlook, well, it's quite bleak.
JANE HUME: Well, and that's $275 off your energy bill. Promise does seem to be a long way in the rear vision mirror. Now, we've just heard that in New South Wales alone, the average price rise on an energy bill is around $430. In Victoria it's around $350. That's an enormous imposition. Yesterday it was reported that more than 50% of Australians would struggle if they got a surprise bill that they weren't expecting. That's a real concern. The cost of living is skyrocketing, out of control and it doesn't matter whether it's energy prices or grocery prices or mortgage or rent. Inflation keeps pushing up the price of everything, and the only way to get the cost of living sustainably under control is to get inflation under control. We can't leave all of that to the Reserve Bank. The Government has to do its share too. And in the energy sector, the policy decisions that the government is making, whether it be safeguard mechanisms or price caps or new taxes, are actually pushing new energy sources out of the system. It's deterring new investment. The only way you're going to be able to bring down energy prices if you increase supply and encourage new investment.
SARAH ABO: I mean, so far we know that obviously there are global contributing factors here. I guess that $275 Jane pointed out really won't necessarily make a dent in the cost of living crisis for a lot of Australians. But what more can the Government do? It's a tricky one, no?
SOFIE FORMICA: Yeah, it is. And you're absolutely spot on. I think actually you'd probably be hard pressed to find somebody who's Bill hasn't gone up by more than $275 and if it hasn't, it probably will. I think the broader issue too, here, and Jane, would be better placed to be able to answer it, is that we have such a complex system. If you can find somebody who can explain to me the way that energy regulation works in this country in a way that makes sense, I would really love to hear from them. You know, it is so complex and it's so different. It's so and it's also really different across the country. I mean, those wholesale prices vary so differently from state to state. So I do think that more broadly, it should be something that is looked at. I do think we should be turning to government to not only make sense of it, but also to be sure that any sort of transition that's being spoken about is being done in a way that is sustainable and is not going to cost even more to those of us who are already struggling. And Jane mentioned those people who if there was a bill to pop up tomorrow, they wouldn't be able to pay it. I think you'll find that percentage is only going to increase over the short term rather than get better.
SARAH ABO: Yeah, absolutely. It is a bit tough out there guys. All right. Well, hopefully the Matilda's will deliver a win tonight and make it all better. Thanks so much for joining us today.