LAURA JAYES: Joining me now is the Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume. This government is fairly newly minted. I know the opposition has been calling for them to put a plan in place, but do you concede that a lot of this is outside of their control?
JANE HUME: It's amazing, Laura, isn't it how the government looks like bunnies in the headlights. And yet every government faces challenges. We know that events drive decisions that need to be made. This government's come out, particularly Jim Chalmers has come out and done a state of the economy. Painted a picture, I think were the words that he used. There's no point just pointing to a fire, you have to bring the bucket of water and put that fire out. And what we haven't seen from this Labor Government from the Albanese Government is a plan to deal with these cost of living pressures. Because everything's going up. Your mortgage is going up. The cost of food is going up. You feel it at the bowser you feel it at the grocery checkout. Yet not one policy has been announced to address the cost of living rise. The pinch that people are feeling in their pockets every single day.
JAYES: So what are you suggesting the government do? Are you talking about more direct intervention with subsidies and payouts?
HUME: No, I'm suggesting that the government put together a plan. That is all we need to see is a plan.
JAYES: But what ideas do you have? Like if you put together a plan, what should that plan involve? Should it involve more spending?
HUME: When we were in government, we addressed the cost of living issues by reducing the fuel excise, making sure that there were payments to pensioners that didn't have that elasticity of their income, and by ensuring that tax cuts went through and that there was more available particularly for low and middle-income earners so that they could feel that that easing of pressure in their pockets. Now that was when we were in government. Now we're not in government, and it's up to the government to make decisions as to what they would do. They had plenty of commentary on the decisions that we made. But now I think the Australian people, 10 weeks into a new government, have seen nothing other than rhetoric, nothing other than finger pointing and blame shifting, but no actual action. This is the frustration that we have. So I would like to see Stephen Jones rather than making forecasts, Jim Chalmers rather than make painting a picture and making grand statements, how about they come up with some policies to ease the pressure on ordinary Australians. We saw more than 3 million households just this week have to deal with the rise in interest rates that an average mortgage is around $610,000. Since May alone, an average mortgage has gone up repayments have gone up by more than $500. Something has to give at some stage.
JAYES: So do you think this fuel excise cut should be extended?
HUME: Well, that's not for an opposition to say. It's for a government to say we did put the measure in, and we made it temporary. Here's the thing, though, Laura, when you're in government, you have all the resources of the Treasury to give you the advice, the resources that allow you to better understand the circumstances and the effects of a decision. In opposition, we don't have that. The government needs to use the resources that they have at its disposal to make a decision, to make a decision that will ease the squeeze on ordinary Australians, whether it be at the browser, whether it be at the grocery store, whether it be paying their mortgage back. At some point, something's got to give, and it's not just households, of course; it's businesses that are feeling the squeeze. You know, this was a government that promised a $275 cut to their energy bills, and yet they've gone eerily silent on that 15 times it was mentioned during the election campaign. Not a peep about it in the last ten weeks. They haven't crabbed walked away; they've sprinted away from this election commitment.
JAYES: Yeah, they're not loving talking about that particular commitment at the moment. But Jane, if I could get back to this fuel excise cut at the moment. Petrol prices have come down a bit in the last couple of months. So what's the justification for extending that this is costing the budget a fair bit?
HUME: That's exactly right, which is why we made it temporary and why the government now needs to make a decision. It's interesting. I was talking to one of my colleagues in a rural seat, and we were talking about the effects of high petrol prices. This was a fascinating story, I thought. He said that he'd been speaking to a family who had stopped taking their kids to Saturday sport because they were from a rural seat, and It was a bit of a drive to get to those football matches, and they simply couldn't afford the petrol costs to get their kids to Saturday sport. You know, it's only one story, one person's story. But there are millions of these stories, whether they be for businesses, whether they be for individuals, whether they be for families, right around the country, where the cost of living is really biting. it's beginning to bite, and yet, we've seen nothing from the government but inaction. It's time that they stepped up that they presented a plan so that ordinary Australians can feel comforted that this is a government that's on their side.
JAYES: Okay. Let's quickly talk about climate and this legislation that has and will pass the Senate there's been a bit of a shift from the opposition this week, essentially admitting that for the next election, you're gonna have to be a little bit more ambitious. How ambitious are you willing to be?
HUME: Well, actually, we were ambitious prior to the last election as well, while our international commitments were 26 to 28%, reductions on 2005 levels. In fact, we knew that we could potentially bank around a 35% reduction in emissions because of the policies that we put in place. Those policies were put in place without legislating a target the conversation this week hasn't been about emissions targets per se, it's not about the 43% that's kind of done and dusted. The Albanese Government has committed us to an international forum for a 43% reduction. The conversation this week was about whether those targets should be legislated or not from a coalition's perspective. Let's put the 43% reduction aside, it was whether you legislate them because legislating comes with risks. You look at what's happened in the UK; for instance, they've legislated emissions reductions targets, it's caused massive delays in their infrastructure projects, things like the third runway at Heathrow Airport or rail tunnel projects because you have climate activists that are now using the courts in order to delay those projects under the guise of emissions reduction. So essentially, if you legislate an emissions reduction, what you're doing is you're outsourcing the responsibility from the parliament to the judiciary and potentially evolving it to climate activists, which is very dangerous. If businesses want certainty, which is the excuse that Labor has used to reduce legislating emissions, target businesses won't be certain if they feel they're at the whim of climate activists and a judiciary that will delay the projects that they need to put in place to make productive economic decisions.
JAYES: Sure, but business disagrees with you. So what do you say to business groups this morning that said this legislation gives them certainty ability to raise capital?
HUME: That's right, except it won't necessarily give them certainty if you find that all of a sudden, those big infrastructure decisions are held up by the courts in the name of emissions reduction. That, in fact, is a risk, not a certainty.
JAYES: Before I let you go, I hear that there was a report given to MPs in the Liberal Party room this week that detailed the gender issues, if you like, at the election, particularly around women. How bad is it, do you think?
HUME: I think the report you're talking about is something that Linda Reynolds prepares and she does at the beginning of every parliamentary term, which is a sort of a state of the gender nation in our party. It's a really important document to keep updating to because, of course, it changes with each parliament. One of the reasons why we have fewer women in this Parliament than we did in the last is because we lost the election.
JAYES: What was the verdict, how bad was it I mean? How worried were you and are you?
HUME: We know that we need to make significant changes to our gender mix in parliament for many, many reasons. Now, we've had this conversation before I know Laura. There is an electoral imperative to do so because there is an expectation that we will better reflect the people we wish to represent. But most importantly, you know, when you have a diverse group of voices around a decision making table, it makes better decisions. It's called the wisdom of crowds. Better decisions make a better policy, better policy makes for better politics, but politics makes for a better parliament and a better economy. So there is an imperative to do this, and the Liberal Party and the Coalition indeed are acutely aware of it. This was a very difficult election loss for us because we lost so many good women from our parliament. People like Katie Allen and Celia Hammond, as well as retirements for people like Nicolle Flint, and we had that great new generation of female talent coming through. But we didn't win the targets the seats that we wanted to win. In fact, we lost. Interestingly, I thought the statistic I saw was that of the 18 seats we lost, we lost 14 to women. That was a very powerful message, I think, in our party room and something we need to address as an organization.
JAYES: Yeah, I think so. They are some pretty scary stats. That's just one of them. We'll do more of this on Monday, and we'll speak to you about it very soon. Jane Hume, thanks so much for your time.