Interview with Angela Bishop and Tristan McManus, Studio 10
27 October 2022
ANGELA BISHOP: Opposition Leader Peter Dutton will deliver his official reply. Treasurer Jim Chalmers admits he was faced with difficult decisions, many of which kept him awake at night. Shadow Finance Minister Senator Jane Hume joins us now from Canberra. Good morning, Senator. Where did the Treasurer get it right? Is there anything in the budget you support?
JANE HUME: Well, I think that Australians are rightly disappointed in this budget if you think about it prior to the election. The Labor Party said that Australians would feel it in their bank accounts when Labor were elected. They said 97 times that they were going to reduce energy prices by $275. They said that they had the answer to the cost-of-living crisis. And yet, less than six months later, we've seen energy prices rising by 50% and gas prices by 40%. We're seeing inflation going through the roof, over 7% was announced yesterday. And of course, we're seeing no answer to the cost-of-living crisis. Nothing that won't kick in for at least another two years. So, I think Australians are rightly disappointed, they've been let down by the Labor Government.
TRISTAN MCMANUS: Senator, what would the Coalition have done differently? I mean, the Treasurer said that he's met the test on responsible spending.
JANE HUME: Well, most importantly, is to get inflation under control. Inflation is an insidious beast. It eats away at your purchasing power. It means that you can spend less, in fact, we estimate that the typical Australian family will be $2,000 worse off by Christmas, just since the election. Most importantly, we would have made sure that you keep energy prices under control. That was a priority of the last government. We would have made sure that pensioners can go back to work to earn a little bit extra and save a little bit more, and that would have filled some of those labour shortages as well. When we were in government, we reduced the cost of fuel of petrol by reducing the fuel excise and that was a temporary measure that served the purpose of the time, but right now Australians are crying out for answers from the Labor government and they're just not getting it.
ANGELA BISHOP: Well, Treasurer Jim Chalmers says the budget is heaving with a trillion dollars in Liberal Party debt? Is that correct?
JANE HUME: Well, in fact, Chris Richardson, who is possibly one of the most celebrated economists in Australia, said that anybody that uses the phrase, a trillion dollars of Liberal Party debt, either doesn't have their facts right or is making a political point. I think Labor have made this political point very cleverly, indeed. But the fact is in this budget that was delivered on Tuesday, deficits are going up and debt is going up when spending is out of control. When you take away your guardrails, you take away your handbrakes what is there to stop deficits and debt going up? We want to see a far better budget control, put on those tax to GDP ratios again, to make sure that there is an envelope in which you can spend, that controls your spending. That's not what we're seeing.
TRISTAN MCMANUS: You mentioned there about inflation, it's obviously going to hit the 7.75% by the end of the year. You told us as well, what the government should be doing what how do they do it? How would you do it?
JANE HUME: You have to control your spending; You have to make sure you manage what's going out the door. You can't just wave the white flag, shrug your shoulders, and say, Oh, it's all too hard. Everything's going up. Oh, well, what we need to do is raise taxes. That's the last thing you should be doing right now. When Australians are doing a tough, you don't want to raise their taxes on top of it.
ANGELA BISHOP: Can the government do anything to hold soaring electricity and gas prices? Should exports be limited?
JANE HUME: Well, I think the most important thing they can do is put more supply into the market. Open up those new gas basins so that there is less supply side pressures. That way, we know it's not a demand problem, the problem is supply. So, if you could open up those new markets, I think that would be really important.
TRISTAN MCMANUS: You mentioned taxes there as well. Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor is calling for lower taxes. But if we do lower taxes, how do you pay for the NDIS, the Defence, the Health?
JANE HUME: Well, the most important thing with spending is to keep your spending under control. You know, taxes aren't the government's money to give back to you. They're not some benevolent overlord. It's your money. You earned it. It's up to you to spend it better than the government can do it. So, we fundamentally believe that the stage 3 tax cuts are very, very fair. It will mean that 95% of Australians pay no more than 30 cents in the dollar. It was committed to in 2019 and have been embedded in every budget since it's not a surprise when Labor came to power. They knew that those stage 3 tax cuts were there. It's important now that they spend within that envelope rather than just letting rip and blowing the budget.
ANGELA BISHOP: Senator Hume, thanks for joining us this morning.