JANE HUME: Well, good morning, everyone. This morning we've heard what we always expected that Labor are reverting to type. That they're delivering a high tax high spend budget. At a time when Australians are crying out for help from the government to tackle the cost of living. They reverted to type. They said they're going to take more at a time when Australians have less in their pocket. They're going to tax Australians more and take more from them. At a time when there is high inflation, inflation that's had a seven in front of it for the last three quarters. This budget's priority should be number one, bring inflation down, and yet all the Labor government is promising is higher taxes and broken promises. Prior to the election, they said that they were going to increase real wages, but real wages have only gone down in the last 12 months. Prior to the election, they said there were going to be no new taxes. But instead what we've heard is that there's going to be increased taxes on energy on superannuation on franking credits on ordinary Australians that will be passed on pushing up the cost of living, not bringing it down. On Tuesday night, Jim Chalmers needs to deliver one thing that's lower inflation, because unless you're tackling inflation, you're not tackling the cost of living. The cost of living is the number one issue for Australians right now. They cry out to their government for help, but all they're saying is higher taxes, broken promises.
ANNE RUSTON: The one thing every Australian has a right to ask on Tuesday night, will it be cheaper to see your GP on Wednesday morning? This is a Government that went to the election promising that they would improve access and affordability of going to your GP. They said that ‘we're going to strengthen Medicare’, all those things they’ve done is weaken it. So we want to know what measures are going to be in the budget on Tuesday night, so that on Wednesday morning, Australians can confidently believe that they're going to have cheaper and easier access to their GP. Because right now we know that most people are paying at least $60 in out of pocket costs to be able to access their GP. This government promised to do something about that. And we want to know what measures are in the second Albanese Budget that are going to deal with that issue. Another really important issue in the healthcare space that has been the fact that we've seen no screening, no testing and deferred care in our hospitals over COVID. We know that there are huge waiting lists. We would like to know what is in the Budget on Tuesday night is going to mean that hospitals like the Alfred behind me and hospitals around Australia, is there going to be one less person on a waiting list as of Wednesday morning? And finally, in relation to cost of living this was a government promised that they were going to have a cost of living budget. We know that the number one issue about cost of living is getting inflation down. But when it comes to health issues, we have seen nothing so far in the billions of dollars that have been spoken about by this government in recent days, about cost of living relief for Australians when it comes to health care, with the exception of one initiative, which is going to be paid for by your community pharmacy. So far, it's very disappointing, but a government that was big on promise when it came to strengthening Medicare seems to be delivering absolutely nothing to the patients and the people of Australia about getting better, easier access to the health services that they deserve.
JANE HUME: We're happy to take your questions. If you have any.
JOURNALIST: Jane, if the government balances the budget on Tuesday night will that be enough to satisfy the test but they're addressing inflation?
JANE HUME: At a time when revenue has been soaring, when commodity prices are going through the roof, and of course, when bracket creep is allowing increased income tax take, a drovers dog could deliver a surplus on Tuesday night next week. The real test for Jim Chalmers is can he sustain that surplus? Can he resist the urge, that innate Labor urge to spend more, to tax more to tackle the real issue, the underlying issue of this budget, which is increased spending? Because of course when you increase spending, that's a signal to the RBA that they've turned over all responsibility for lowering inflation to monetary policy. Jim Chalmers has waved the white flag. He shrugged his shoulders and said 'inflation, that's not my problem. You deal with that one RBA'. That's why the RBA has to keep lifting interest rates because Jim Chalmers and Anthony Albanese aren't doing their job. The number one issue for this government is lowering inflation. There is not a single measure in the budget on Tuesday night that will do that. Instead, they're going to tax more, they're going to spend more and it's going to cost Australians dearly.
JOURNALIST: Jane, the Government's put out figures this morning suggesting unemployment is going to remain lower for longer and real wages are going to rise faster sooner. This is surely good news for voters?
JANE HUME: In fact, they've released figures saying that unemployment will increase in the medium term. So that's higher taxes and fewer jobs for more Australians. You know, Australians are making some really tough decisions with their household budgets right now. And they expect Jim Chalmers to do the same with his budget on Tuesday night because quite frankly, unless you deal with that number one issue of tackling inflation, you're not dealing with the cause of the cost of living crisis. If you want to deal with the cost of living, you must bring down inflation. There is nothing that Jim Chalmers has said that will bring down inflation in this budget, real wages growth was promised prior to the last election and yet we've seen real wages go backwards since then. No new taxes were promised prior to the last election and all that's happened is we've seen new taxes introduced that will be passed on to ordinary Australians. At a time when they're feeling the pinch, Jim Chalmers is taking more money from their puff pockets rather than dealing with the real cause of the cost of living crisis and that's tackling inflation.
JOURNALIST: In Treasury's latest forecasts show that real wages are expected to return to positive growth earlier and grow more strongly than previously forecast.
JANE HUME: And in fact, that was promised prior to the last election and yet we've seen the exact opposite from this government whose hallmark is broken promises. Prior to the election, they promised that cost of living would come down. They promised there'd be no new taxes. They promised that real wages would rise. And in fact, in the last 12 months, we've seen the exact opposite. Now, if Jim Chalmers was sincere about tackling the cost of living, if he was sincere, about guaranteeing those real wage increases, the only way to do that, sustainably is to tackle inflation. But unfortunately, Jim Chalmers has raised the white flag. He shrugged his shoulders and said, 'that's not my responsibility', turned all the heavy lifting over to the RBA, who then consistently have to push up interest rates to manage the inflationary pressures. Inflation is the thief in the night. It erodes your purchasing power, it erodes your savings, and it makes life harder when the cost of living increases, your standard of living decreases. If Jim Chalmers is serious about tackling the cost of living crisis, he would tackle inflation.
JOURNALIST: Stuart Robert this morning has announced his resignation. Obviously, a long term colleague of yours, are you disappointed to see him go and how will the Coalition fare and the looming by-election in Queensland?
ANNE RUSTON: Well, obviously we respect the decision that Stuart's made to spend more time with his family. We all know the toll that these sorts of jobs pay it in time away from home from your family, but obviously we wish Stuart all the best and I'm sure that the people of Fadden will replace you with an equally strong and capable conservative candidate and conservative Member of Parliament to join our parliamentary team in Canberra.
JOURNALIST: Is there anyone you'd like to see put their hand up to be the candidate perhaps, Amanda Stoker, your former Senate colleague, Senator Ruston?
ANNE RUSTON: Well, certainly we only saw the news this morning that Stuart decided to hang up the boots and so obviously there'll be, I'm sure, a really strong field of fantastic candidates in Queensland who will put their hand up for us to choose somebody from. But you know, we'd certainly look forward to welcoming whoever the people, the Liberal Party of Queensland choose or the LNP members of Fadden choose to put forward as the next member for Fadden.
JOURNALIST: Does the government deserve credit for supporting wage increases, which we now know will lead to positive wage growth after a decade of stagnant wage growth?
JANE HUME: Well I think that a decade of stagnant wage growth is simply reading off the Labor Party talking points. In fact, we saw real wages rise under the period of the Coalition and instead we've seen them fall under the last 12 months of a Labor Government. The only way to sustainably ensure that you have real wage rises is to make sure that you tackle the scourge of inflation. It's inflation that's driving the cost of living crisis that's eroding the savings that are eroding the purchasing power of ordinary Australians. It's inflation that's making it so much harder for households to make those difficult budget decisions. Now, it's up to Jim Chalmers to make the difficult budget decisions to restrain that automatic that innate urge that labor always has to tax more and to spend more because that's not responsible budgeting. If Jim Chalmers wants to deliver a responsible budget, a fiscally appropriate budget, he must tackle inflation first and foremost, and resist that urge to tax more and to spend more, which will only erode away at the cost of living process for ordinary Australians.
JOURNALIST: So does the government deserve any credit for these wages, growth numbers and low unemployment figures.
JANE HUME: Sorry, can you repeat the question? I just missed that.
JOURNALIST: Does the government deserve any credit for wages growth and low unemployment figures that are being forecast by Treasury?
JANE HUME: You know, the inflation figures that we're seeing come out of this government something with a seven in front of it over the last three quarters. Jim Chalmers and Anthony Albanese have pointed in every other direction and said this is not our fault. They've pointed to Russia. They've pointed to the previous government. But in fact, we're now seeing that core inflation is higher in Australia, that is in any other G7 country. That means that you can in fact, identify that the government itself is part of the problem. And that means the government has to be part of the solution. Jim Chalmers can't shirk this responsibility. a responsible budget will tackle inflation. First and foremost, we want to see policies on Tuesday night that are specifically targeted at reducing inflation. Every Australian deserves that because unless you tackle inflation, you don't tackle the cost of living. Thanks, guys.