Interview with Sarah Abo, Today Show
2 February 2023
SARAH ABO: Let's bring in Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume now, who's chairing a new cost of living inquiry. Jane, thanks for joining us this morning. This is unusual. You're actually in agreement with the Greens here about this inquiry being necessary.
JANE HUME: Sarah, the Greens and the Coalition agree that the number one issue for Australians right now is the cost of living and as Damir said, it doesn't matter where you feel it - whether it's at the grocery checkout, at the bowser, when you're paying your mortgage, when you're paying your rent, when you're paying your electricity bills. Everybody's feeling it somewhere, and that's why we set up this cost of living committee. When Labor approached the last election. They said they had all the answers to the cost of living crisis. They said that you would feel the change of government in your wallet. Well, you're certainly feeling it but for the wrong reasons, things seem to be getting worse. Inflation is higher than we've seen it now and in two decades, and this cost of living committee is looking to find practical sensible solutions to the cost of living crisis that can be implemented right now.
SARAH ABO: You mentioned obviously the change of government there. These problems have been around for a lot longer, including when you are in government. Haven't they, have you done enough I guess to prevent them?
JANE HUME: Well, when the Coalition were in government, we addressed the cost of living crisis with things like a reduction to fuel excise and some changes to the prices of medicines. We're not in government anymore. It's up to Anthony Albanese and Jim Chalmers to find the solutions to the cost of living crisis that are facing Australians today. Not 18 months, not in two years. We can't simply wait for global circumstances to change because we're hearing pressures right now. Yesterday, we heard from the not for profit and charity sector that were saying it's not just the regular sort of disadvantaged Australians that they're seeing anymore. One in three people walking through the door of the Salvation Army have never been there before. And they're saying that the cost of living is the reason that they're going there. Food Bank is saying people on dual incomes that are coming to ask for their services. This is a frightening development and one that needs to be addressed. It's not being addressed by the Labor government. So this cost of living committee will do what it can to find a solution
SARAH ABO: You know Jane, the the problem, I guess with those issues is that the public is sort of sick of the finger pointing here. You don't want to say this government or it's that government. This is an issue that's facing us all right now it's very real. You know, you want this inquiry to solve it. But what could, what can we do? What would you do right now if you had all the options available?
JANE HUME: Well, this is the thing. That's why we want to hear from industry in a consultative way here from the peak bodies, even consumers as to where those pinch points are.
SARAH ABO: We’ve heard from them though.
JANE HUME: Food Bank came and spoke to us yesterday and said, Well, what if we make food donations tax deductible? Now, that's an interesting idea, because we also heard from Woolworths who said that they've increased by 20% their food donations to their charity partners. Now, obviously, that's a policy that would need a little bit of working out. We only heard about it for the first time yesterday, but it's an interesting idea. These are the sorts of things that are coming from industry themselves. Anthony Albanese said he was going to consult with industry, and he hasn't done that you can see that he's in his, you know, responsive energy price caps. The energy companies and the peak bodies that we're seeing today, and that we saw yesterday, are telling us that those price caps are actually creating uncertainty and which is stopping investment in the market, which would then bring down prices in the longer term. So you can see how bad policy can actually make the cost of living crisis worse.
SARAH ABO: Damir just very quickly, do you like what you hear or is it just hot air?
DAMIR: Oh, look, I do believe that there's validity to it. I do believe that something will change, but as I said, the change is coming on too slow, and everybody's suffering now
SARAH ABO: We need to act right now. Damir and Jane, thank you for your time.