Transcripts → 2024


TV Interview - ABC News Breakfast

Minister for Finance
Minister for Women
Minister for the Public Service
Senator for the ACT


Date: Monday, 13 May 2024

Budget; inflation; cost of living; JobSeeker; international education reforms; foreign interference.

BRIDGET BRENNAN, HOST: But it also signals a slowing economy, which could leave more Australians out of a job. For more, Finance Minister and Minister for Women Katy Gallagher joins us from Canberra. Good morning Katy Gallagher, it’s great to see you on a very busy budget week for you, just first to those inflation figures – just take us through the government’s thinking on inflation. Because it looks like these predictions are some welcome news for Australians, but slightly different to what the RBA was predicting.

SENATOR THE HON KATY GALLAGHER, MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Morning, Bridget, and thanks for having me on. Look yes, I mean what the forecast and the Treasury forecast will show in the Budget is that we’ve made good progress on the inflation front but the job isn’t done yet. So you’ll see in the Budget, it’ll have a focus on ensuring that we’re continuing to be part of the solution, not part of the problem in terms of moderating inflation, but also looking at how it can assist with cost-of-living pressures for people that we recognise they’re under and also turning our mind, as you say in your intro, to the foundations for future economic growth. So there’s a lot in this Budget and we’ve been very mindful of the economic circumstances that we’re operating in at the moment. There’s challenges but opportunities in that as well.

BRENNAN: If you’re an Australian family, you’re struggling at the supermarket to pay for your grocery bill, your rent might have gone up. I mean, what’s the message in this year’s Budget for families that are really, really struggling to make ends meet?

GALLAGHER: Well, we recognise that people have been under enormous pressure. You know we’ve got a number of responsibilities with this Budget and you will see that it is a very responsible budget. So, it does manage to you know deal with the inflation challenge, but it will have a cost-of-living focus. So obviously the biggest part of that will be the tax cuts, a tax cut for every taxpayer in Australia. But in addition to that there’ll be a targeted cost-of-living package to assist people with those costs. We recognise that. That’s one of the challenges I think we’re dealing with in a high inflation environment, and we’ve seen inflation had a six in front of it when we came to government, it’s now got a three in front of it, but there’s more work to do.

BRENNAN: Katy Gallagher, we just had the CEO of Homelessness Australia, Kate Colvin, on the show a little earlier. Here’s what she had to say this morning.

GRAB - KATE COLVIN, CEO OF HOMELESSNESS AUSTRALIA: It’s devastating knowing that a lot of women don’t leave a violent relationship because they simply know that they won’t be able to afford housing and – or they do leave and then go back because it’s just too difficult when you can’t afford a house and you’re stuck and homeless. That’s also dangerous.

BRENNAN: So, for a little bit of context, she was talking about women who perhaps might be on the JobSeeker allowance but are also really, really doing it tough with rental increases. What do you think about this? Why haven’t you looked at increasing the JobSeeker payment? Kate Colvin said that would be the single most effective way of helping women, particularly women in abusive relationships.

GALLAGHER: Well Bridget, we do look at payments every budget. And you know you’ll see the culmination of those decisions in the Budget when it’s handed down on Tuesday. Those payments are indexed, of course, to make sure that they are keeping up with some of the increases in costs. And you will see that on the weekend, with our announcement on housing, we are absolutely focused on making sure that we’re working with the states and territories to increase options, particularly for women and women with children who are leaving domestic violence situations. That’s why the announcement we made on Sunday to have an extra effort going into that plus our escaping or our Leaving Violence payment, which we announced a couple of weeks ago, is all targeted to make sure that we are doing what we can to support women who find themselves in that situation and support them with their choice to leave. And there’s more to be done on that front, I mean we’ve been talking about that in the last fortnight or so, but really it’s work that’s been before us for a long time. And we’ll continue to do that and you’ll see some more of that in the Budget.

BRENNAN: Minister, is there rising concern about the intake of international university students into Australia? And is it your view that it should be the government that starts to set the cap on numbers for each individual university?

GALLAGHER: Well, I think what you’re seeing is the continuation of the hard work that Minister O’Neil, Minister Giles and Minister Clare have been doing in this area. So we have seen a very significant increase in international students. We have been trying to make sure that we’re putting in place reforms to the migration system to make sure that we’re dealing with some of these you know big increases when we see them, but also putting integrity at the heart of the migration system and working with the universities. I mean I think this is something that the universities are wanting to work with the government on. There’ll be further discussions this morning about that, but I think it is right that the government, in conjunction with the universities, should consider and should have a say about you know all of the people coming to Australia and the conditions that they arrive as students. And I think that’s part of a responsible and mature discussion for the government to have. And we’ll look forward to continuing to work with the university sector on it.

BRENNAN: Just on another issue, I just want to take you to that Four Corners report this morning that looks at revelations from a former Chinese spy from the secret police arm of the Chinese intelligence unit that there is espionage going on in Australia at very concerning levels, including revelations that an Australian was returned to China – an Australian citizen I should say. What does this say about Australia’s national security settings?

GALLAGHER: Well Bridget I’m not fully across the case you raised, but I would say that you know we are absolutely working hand in hand with the intelligence agencies. I mean we know that there’s an increase in sort of foreign interference. We have been working with those agencies on it and you’ll see in the Budget there’ll be proper and adequate resourcing for this. This is one of those issues and challenges that governments all around the world are dealing with and I think the key is to make sure that we are taking the advice of the intelligence agencies and making sure that they have the skills and resources needed to do the job that they need to do to keep Australians safe.

BRENNAN: Katy Gallagher, appreciate your time this morning, we’ll let you get on with budget week.

GALLAGHER: Thanks very much, Bridget.


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