Interview with Laura Jayes, AM Agenda
24 May 2023
LAURA JAYES: We don't often talk about a State Budget to a national audience. But this Victorian Budget handed down yesterday was quite one to talk about because they have a multi-billion dollar COVID levy. Joining me now to talk about this is Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume. Look, we talk about State Budgets, but I don't think to this extent. This seems ideological and it's got a lot of question marks about what the Victorian Government can and can't afford to do in the coming years, right?
JANE HUME: Well let's face it, Victoria is broke. It's a failed state and Victorians are being punished for the incompetence and let's face it, let's say the word out loud, the corruption of this Victorian Government and this Premier. Victorians are paying an enormous price. It doesn't matter whether it's cuts to infrastructure, and I was talking to Brad Rowswell, who's the Shadow Treasurer, and also, Jess Wilson is the Shadow Finance Minister, just in the last couple of days. They found 32 separate projects that have been cut, and they include things like Geelong fast rail, the Melbourne Airport link, the Northeast link, and yet all of these things have actually been co-funded by the Federal Government and yet because of the incompetence of this Government, because of $30 billion of blowouts in other infrastructure projects, they've actually had to shelve these ones which is outrageous. There's around $171 billion worth of state debt. Now that's $83 million for every man, woman and child in Victoria. If you're a family of four, Dan Andrews has essentially borrowed in your name around $335,000 and blown it- and blown it. Now Victorians pay the price. If you were a business, why would you set up in Victoria? Why would you set up a business in Victoria if your payroll taxes higher? If your work cover has gone up? If there is no incentive to employ people if your taxes are going up, if there's a mental health levy, if there's a COVID debt Levy, on businesses, why would you set up there? It's going to have profound effects on employment. Why would families move to, or even stay in Victoria, if their private school fees have gone up because they've removed the exemption on payroll tax on teachers? If rents have gone up because of more taxes on landlords. It's even harder to buy your first home because they've removed first home buyer incentives on stamp duty. They have cut a billion dollars from health services, for hospitals like the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Royal Women's Hospital and community health organisations. There is no incentive. It's not a great time to be a Victorian right now. I can understand why Victorians are rightly angry, white hot with anger with this Government.
LAURA JAYES: What’s the debt figure that you cited just there?
JANE HUME: It's $171 billion by 2026, which is around $83,000 per man, woman and child. Now that’s $171 billion in the same year as Victoria is supposed to be hosting the Commonwealth Games, while it’s cutting infrastructure.
LAURA JAYES: You don’t think that they can?
JANE HUME: Well I think that they have some explaining to do. I think that Dan Andrews needs to look Victorians in the eye and say, how can I deliver those Commonwealth Games without imposing more punitive taxes, without imposing more burdens on everyday Victorians living there right now. They’ve already lived through the worst, the most draconian COVID restrictions over the last few years, and now they're paying a price for that too.
LAURA JAYES: You labeled a pretty heavy charge at the Andrews Government and that is the ‘C’ word, corruption. Do you stand by that?
JANE HUME: I don't need to level it because the Victorian Ombudsman has already done that because IBAC has already done that. You don't need to hear it from the opposition.
LAURA JAYES: Do you think Daniel Andrews is corrupt? Does this Budget, you're linking it to the Budget, how does that work?
JANE HUME: Any accusation of mismanagement and corruption seems to be only educational for Dan Andrews. I think that this Victorian Budget is probably the most educational document out there and poor old Victorians are the ones that are finding out what it's going to mean for them. The behaviour of this Government has been abominable. Do you know, the reason why I got into politics Laura, is because I lived through the Victorian Cain and Kirner years. When I walked out of university, Victoria was a wasteland. There were cranes in the skylines that hadn't moved for years. There were no jobs to be had. It took Jeff Kennett to come into Government in Victoria, to fix the state. Now 30 years later, it's all happening again. I promised that it wouldn't happen to the next generation. But unfortunately, thanks to Dan Andrews and this incompetent Victorian Government, it is. It’s happening all over again.
LAURA JAYES: I haven't seen you this exercised about a political issue for quite some time and there's been plenty to talk about. So you must actually be incensed with the Liberals in Victoria given that they've spent the last month essentially talking about themselves. Good governments come when there are strong oppositions and the opposition in Victoria is nowhere near strong.
JANE HUME: I am incensed because I'm a Senator for Victoria and I'm here to represent the interests of my state and unfortunately this Labor Government has let my state down. Now those conversations I've had with Brad Rowswell as the Shadow Treasurer, and Jess Wilson, the Shadow Finance Minister give me great confidence that this opposition is going to hold Dan Andrews to account.
LAURA JAYES: Where do you draw that confidence, from John Pesutto’s leadership?
JANE HUME: John Pesutto as leader and Jess and Brad there supporting him, they are going to take this Budget apart, line by line, page by page and demonstrate to Victorians just how badly done by they are and the price that they are going to have to pay.
LAURA JAYES: So, should Moira Deeming pull her head in then?
JANE HUME: Well, Moira Deeming is now sitting on the crossbench. This is about the Victorian Opposition.
LAURA JAYES: She's still a distraction?
JANE HUME: If every single person on any side of the Parliament that isn't Labor isn't talking about this Budget and the bad news that it's delivering for all Victorians, then they're not doing their job.
LAURA JAYES: Jane Hume, thanks so much for your time.
JANE HUME: Thanks Laura.