PETE STEFANOVIC: Let's go to Canberra now. Joining us is the Shadow Finance Minister, Jane Hume. Jane, good to see you. So the Prime Minister said yesterday that any repeal of the right to disconnect laws will only hurt workers. That's despite what business groups say. Your thoughts on that?
JANE HUME: Isn't it extraordinary that he's already decided that a repeal of these ridiculous laws will be disastrous for workers? And yet, only a week ago, they weren't part of his own legislation. This was a Greens amendment to industrial relations legislation that went through without scrutiny, which is why there are now criminal penalties for bosses that call their employees after hours. That's just outrageous that the Prime Minister should now be so committed to something that literally had no scrutiny before it went into the Parliament, and so little scrutiny that labor didn't even read the amendment that they signed off on.
PETE STEFANOVIC: No, it does seem like strange policy, this one. But I mean, I've been wondering how many businesses and workers do you think this affects? Because I would have thought that the vast majority of workers would just speak to their bosses outside hours, because you wouldn't get very far if you don't.
JANE HUME: Well, at some point in time, you've got to say, surely there are sensible conversations to be had about the right to disconnect when it is and isn't appropriate for a boss to call an employee. And you know, I'd agree with Jacqui Lambie on this one. Nobody had come to me and said this is a real issue. Jacqui said the same thing. Nobody had come to her and said the right to disconnect was a really important issue in the workplace right now. So what's it simply a Greens amendment? It's a Greens amendment. Labor rolled over to their partners and legislation and the Greens, and they didn't even scrutinise the amendment. Otherwise they wouldn't have had a mistake in it. They then came to the Coalition, who voted against the entire legislation and said, ‘could you do us an enormous favour, we messed up here. Can you get us out of a jam?’ Well, no, this is bad legislation from go to whoa. The right to disconnect is simply just a play into the Greens hands.
PETE STEFANOVIC: But are we talking a minimal amount of workers here or a lot more?
JANE HUME: And good question, Pete. Nobody knows. And the reason why nobody knows is because this legislation has had no scrutiny whatsoever. It didn't go to a Senate inquiry. It's not something that the public were talking about. This just came out of nowhere and labor simply rolled over and had their tummies tickled by the greens, by swinging the axe to workplace reforms.
PETE STEFANOVIC: Jane, is that a surefire vote winner? Because so many people, I think, are confused by the complexities of it all.
JANE HUME: Nobody's said taking the axe to workplace reforms is a good idea, quite frankly.
PETE STEFANOVIC: No, but Peter Dutton's going to wind it back, right? If you win the next election.
JANE HUME: Well, what we are going to go to the next election with is an agenda around productivity, because productivity has gone backwards in this country. When you have things like excessively high energy costs, industrial relations reforms, that or industrial relations system that winds up employers in red tape. So it makes it harder to employ people, not easier to employ people. And a tax system that provides disincentives to do more work, more hours, get a promotion, get a pay rise. Well, that's going to take your productivity backwards. We're already seeing that play out. That of course plays out into economic growth. Economic growth in this country is zero, it's flaccid. It’s doing nothing-
PETE STEFANOVIC: But the right to disconnect.
JANE HUME: -absolutely nothing.
PETE STEFANOVIC: Just on right to disconnect. So just to be clear, are you going to wind that back or not?
JANE HUME: Yes. We've actually said that the right to disconnect is not something that we will pursue in government. And because it is a nonsense red tape that is in fact going to punish bosses for providing flexibility in the workplace, surely at some point you can say, let's just have a sensible conversation between employees and employers. If you want to say, do you know what? On Fridays I might like to leave at 3:00 in the afternoon because I want to go and pick up the kids from school. But in exchange, I'm going to work a couple of extra hours on, uh, you know, Monday to Thursday or, you know, on, Mondays. I'd really like to come in late so I can drop my mother somewhere in the mornings, but instead I'm going to work late on Thursdays. These are the sorts of conversations that we should have and we are having with our employers. But by pitting employers against employees, all you're doing is discouraging further employment. And the you know, the cat's been bailed on this one because the RBA governor has already made forecasts that show that unemployment is going to go up. And she has said that productivity in this country needs to be addressed. Without productivity, we can't have growth. Without productivity, we can't have sustainable wage rises. So that's why it's so important to take a genuine productivity agenda rather than these productivity sapping policies and legislation that Labor's championing.
PETE STEFANOVIC: Jane, just to wrap up here, you wouldn't be aware about this, but Barnaby Joyce has appeared this morning and given his reaction to, you know, him falling off that planter box, he's basically said that he's been on prescription drugs, which didn't mix very well with alcohol. He was sitting on the planter box and he's gone on to fall off. Um, what are your thoughts on that? Is that enough for him to, you know, to stay in shadow cabinet, etc.
JANE HUME: Well, you're right, I haven't seen Barnaby's explanation to that. Can I just first say, don't you think it's a little bit horrifying that somebody could simply walk past somebody that is clearly in trouble and do nothing other than video them? I mean, what sort of people?
PETE STEFANOVIC: I mean, look, yeah, no, I agree with you. But I suppose the retort to that is that he's a public figure and, that sort of stuff is going to happen.
JANE HUNE: Doesn't mean he doesn't need a helping hand.
PETE STEFANOVIC: I'm with you. But that's you know, some would say well, you know he's public property in a sense.
JANE HUME: Yeah well I don't think that is the case. I think that there should be a little bit more humanity in all of us. And shame on that person that decided to take a video and send it to your media.
PETE STEFANOVIC: You think he shouldn't be? You're happy for him to stay in the position that he's in.
JANE HUME: Well, as I said, I haven't heard that explanation. And you're absolutely right. And I feel a bit guilty myself I haven't reached out to Barnaby since then to see if he's okay. Obviously there's something going on there and that's for Barnaby to deal with.
PETE STEFANOVIC: All right. Jane Hume, just sprung that one on you. But it's just happening now, so I thought I'd ask you about it anyway. Jane, appreciate it. We’ll talk to you soon.