Hume & McAllister, Sky News
31 March 2023
TOM CONNELL: A lot happening today, but we can't have a Friday without Hume and McAllister. Each week Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume, Assistant Climate Change and Energy Minister Jenny McAllister to face off and fire up on the big news and political developments. Jane, Jenny welcome. Jenny, we'll start with you this week. What has you fired up?
JENNY MCALLISTER: Well, Tom, this week the Parliament passed the safeguard legislation and it's a really significant moment for Australian communities and for Australian businesses and for the Australian economy. Because for a decade under the Coalition government, we had no settled climate or energy policy and it has had real costs for the Australian people. Business had no certainty about what to plan for, and how to make their investment decisions and now they will. We were keen to work across the Parliament to gain agreement, keen to engage with stakeholders, all through the community, keen to engage with business about the shape of these reforms and we are really pleased that we have brought through a package that has the support of the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group. These groups all know that settling the climate wars, setting a climate policy for Australia really matters. The great shame is that in this as in so many other policy areas, the opposition, the Liberal National Coalition refused to engage and simply said no, they vacated the policy field, but we are getting on with the job, Tom.
TOM CONNELL: Jane, your turn.
JANE HUME: Tom, Anthony Albanese 10 months ago looked voters in the eye and said you'll be better off under Labor. Well, I'm out here in Aston with Roshena Campbell this week and quite frankly, that's not at all what we're hearing from residents out here. They're telling us that when you stand outside the supermarket, that their grocery bills have gone through the roof. That the average mortgage holder out here is now paying $19,000 a year more than they were just a year ago, and that their energy bills have gone up by 31%. New data today from CEDA shows that low income families are now spending more than 50% of their disposable income on housing and energy bills alone. And yet when they look to their Government for answers for help with the cost of living, they're not only getting nothing, they're seeing Anthony Albanese and his team talk about almost anything else and the reason why they're talking about anything else is because they haven't got a plan. They haven't got an economic plan. They haven't got a plan to bring down inflation, and they haven't got a plan to deal with the cost of living.
TOM CONNELL: All right, there is Jane out at Aston. We'll talk about that in a moment. She's got her finger on the pulse by the look of it trying to do her bit for the next Liberal MP. We'll see. The Minister for Indigenous Australians, meanwhile, says the country is one step closer to making history. The long awaited introduction of the bill to add an Indigenous Voice to Parliament was passed, another emotionally charged day in Canberra, the Coalition response was to demand more detail.
TOM CONNELL: We are talking about changing the Constitution. It's a complex legal element to this, of course. Yes, the Opposition has been pushing for the Solicitor General's advice on this and the response from the PM Jenny has been, oh we don't believe they really want the advice to help it pass. We think they want it to fail. But don't the Australian people who are voting on the referendum after all deserve to know this advice. Why not release it?
JENNY MCALLISTER: Tom, this is a simple proposition. It is about providing advice, the capacity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice about matters that impact them, and also of course recognition and it is a proposal that has a long pedigree, it has been being consulted and discussed for nearly a decade now. It's a generous opportunity that was put before all of us as Australians at all Uluru and this year, we'll have the opportunity to respond to it and I hope that Australians will respond to it positively. You're right that the opposition is asking for the release of advice. Peter Dutton knows that it is not the practice of governments to release legal advice and the Government's been very clear about this.
TOM CONNELL: But it could be released. It's the Government that is choosing not to. That's what's happening here.
JENNY MCALLISTER: Australians can know that the proposition before them is constitutionally sound, they can rely on the opinions that have been offered by a range of eminent constitutional lawyers.
TOM CONNELL: But why not the Government right, they pay for it with taxpayer dollars.
JENNY MCALLISTER: It is a simple and modest proposal to allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a say about the policies that impact them and we know from the evidence that when that happens, we get better results.
TOM CONNELL: Jane, on the Liberal Party position on this, we saw that Nationals come early on and say, as a party, they will oppose it. Do you think the Liberal Party needs to respect choice? There are people within your party that are passionately supporting this and some that are not. Does the Liberal Party need to be a broad church and don't have a block party view on this topic?
JANE HUME: Just let me take a step back for a moment and say that the Solicitor General's advice can easily be released. In fact, this is a Labor Government that has used Solicitor General's advice to its own advantage before, it weaponised Solicitor General's advice in the past and yet, somehow now, it's inconvenient to release something that is so fundamental to asking questions about what is a very serious constitutional change. Now, we've approached this very respectfully from the start, in fact, you know, the idea of Indigenous recognition in the Constitution is something that the Liberal Party, the Coalition has spoken about for decades now. We want to see better outcomes for Indigenous communities right around the country, whether they be urban, regional, remote and rural. But the problem is, of course, with this referendum is that it does raise an awful lot of very legitimate questions. And we wanted to have those questions answered. The idea that they would be dealt with, either by downplaying them or ridiculing them. That's actually contemptuous of genuine and legitimate concerns as to what the implication of the referendum might be.
TOM CONNELL: Just on that question of what the Liberal Party position will be, because we're nearly out of time.
JANE HUME: The Liberal Party room will make its decision. So the good news is now we have a question. We know that it's very broad reaching, we know that there are an awful lot of implications, from the question that's being proposed. That's now gone to a Joint Select Committee, and there are a number of Liberal representatives as well as National Party representatives on that Joint Select Committee, and it will ask those questions and get some answers. When that happens, it will come back to the Liberal party room and to the Coalition party room and a decision will be made that once we understand what the implications are, that's the sensible way of going about this and we want to do that we want to make sure that all Australians have answers to their questions too.
TOM CONNELL: I would have thought you could still perhaps say up to the party room given it is such a passionate issue but look, we'll ask that down the track. Jane, Jenny stay there. We'll talk through Aston, where Jane is right now, after the break.
TOM CONNELL: One day to go to the Aston by-election triggered by Liberal MP Alan Tudge’s resignation last month. It's poised to be the first test of opposition leader Peter Duttons’ leadership. Labor hopes it will be the first seat in a century to be snatched from the opposition at a by-election, nominating university union organiser Mary Doyle to contest that once liberal stronghold, the Liberal candidate, City of Melbourne Councillor and barrister Roshena Campbell, so it's high stakes, here's how it unfolded.
TOM CONNELL: We will of course have full coverage tomorrow night from 6pm in the Aston by-election, but firstly you on this Jenny. I'm just intrigued with the PM really firing up on this. Richard Marles is going to be attending the Labor function, are you setting the bar pretty high here, if you don't win this, it'll be disappointing?
JENNY MCALLISTER: Well, Labor would have to defy history to win this seat time. I think it's been 100 years since the Government took a seat off the Opposition at a by-election and in fact, the more usual practice in a by-election of this kind is for there to be a swing to the opposition and that's what Peter Dutton really ought to be hoping for. I imagined Peter Dutton is, possibly sweating on it, because ordinarily, an Opposition would expect to swing in the order of 4%. Very interesting to see if that unfolds on Saturday night, because my best guess is that voters will be looking at Mr. Dutton and thinking this is a group of people who have not learned a thing since the Federal Election.
TOM CONNELL: All right. Jenny I know you have got a very tight schedule this morning. You get to leave, Jane, you're very lucky you get two or three more minutes with me to talk about the Liberal Party. Jenny, we will talk to you later. Jane, let's cut to the chase. This is big stakes, isn't it? This is an outer suburban seat the Liberal Party has never lost it. It's a mortgage belt seat when rate rises and cost of living are hitting Australians. If you can't give in to the same number of people to vote the Liberal Party as they did last election. This is a bad sign for your party isn’t it?
JANE HUME: Yeah, Tom, can I tell you the feeling that we have on the ground out here is quietly confident, I don't think we'd ever put ourselves right out there. There's no room for hubris in any election. But what people are telling us is that, as I said earlier, the cost of living is the number one issue and people out here in Aston are really doing it tough. Now, you know, there's no doubt that the Government is still within its honeymoon period. But people are beginning to associate a change in their circumstances with a change in the Government. Roshena Campbell has done a fantastic job out here campaigning on the ground. She has spoken to so many people. She's very personable, very likeable and she is going to be a terrific voice and a great advocate for the people of Aston. I actually went door knocking here a couple of weeks ago with Peter Dutton. That was quite an experience, can I tell you, because I was doing one side of the street. He was doing the other side of the street and at one stage I came out and he had disappeared and I thought, oh, goodness me I've lost my leader. That's really not a great look. It is that he'd gone in and had a cup of tea with a family that had invited him in for afternoon tea. He was actually extraordinarily well received and, and people came up and wanted to talk to us. They wanted to talk to us about infrastructure. They wanted to talk to us about the cost of living.
TOM CONNELL: Is there no hangover at all in terms of Peter Dutton and his reputation of being sort of a hard man on boats, borders, defense and China? Because let's be frank, his popularity levels are not high out there. Have there been some voters as well saying, geez, I wish you didn't turn up here?
JANE HUME: I haven't had that and in fact, can I tell you, I was just at the early voting booth this morning. It's actually very decorous out here. Everybody is very polite, getting along very well. That includes all the parties that are running, as well as the voters. I think that everybody knows that there's a really important choice to make. That choices like elections have consequences and people are feeling it right now, the consequences of their decisions at the last election too. But there's a lot of support out here for Roshena Campbell. There's a lot of disappointment in the Albanese Government and its lack of a plan to deal with what is the most important issue to them and that's the cost of living.
TOM CONNELL: Sounds like you're predicting a 60/40 thumping out there? The seat is in the bag! Jane, such positive reactions, maybe you could pop a camera hat on or something and just send us the best 10 minutes of interactions with voters. What do you reckon?
JANE HUME: You want a bit of like GoPro action from the polling booths?
TOM CONNELL: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
JANE HUME: Let's see what we could do!
TOM CONNELL: I'm gonna wait. You never know what might come in. We'll see how Jane Hume convinces voters to vote for the Liberal Party. Jane. Thank you. We will talk next week with you and Jenny. And enjoy the day out on the hustings.