Topic:  RBA interest rate decision; Power prices keep going up; Australians granted clemency in Vietnam;

07:50AM AEST
Tuesday 6 June, 2023


Peter Stefanovic:  I want to bring in the Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Birmingham. We’ll just keep that conversation going for now. Simon, good to see you. Thanks for your time this morning. So, we’ve heard the from a small business owner there and the issues that are coming when it comes to an increase of wages and increase of costs as well. This on the back of a potential 12th rate hike today. What are your thoughts of where that’s at?


Simon Birmingham: Well, this is a really troubling situation now for so many Australian families, homeowners, small businesses and others being hurt by these interest rate rises. And the problem is the pressure is on the Reserve Bank to lift rates today in large part because of the budget that Anthony Albanese handed down a few weeks ago, which so many economists described as being expansionary, which puts pressure going in the opposite direction to what the Reserve Bank has in terms of trying to contain the economy and therefore ease off on having to put those interest rates up. And so my thoughts are with the many households who will hear news today of Deutsche Bank reporting the possibility of three more interest rate increases. And that’s just something that so many people will struggle with and sadly will tip some over the edge.


Peter Stefanovic: Inflation is on the way down, though. So, doesn’t that show that that the policies that the government is putting in place are to some effect working regardless of the budget? Because rates had been increasing well before the budget.


Simon Birmingham: Rates have been increasing for some time. The problem is the budget should have been a line in the sand where after the rate increases, we didn’t see this pressure for more and yet the pressure is there. And that’s because economists have said that Anthony Albanese’s budget put extra pressure into the economy, extra stimulus was expansionary, and that’s the opposite of what we need in this current environment.


Peter Stefanovic: Right, on energy prices. Bill Shorten on a short time ago, he highlighted a lack of action over the past decade, still too soon, he says, though, to write off the pre-election pitch for savings. Your reaction to that? Following claims this morning that wholesale prices are going to remain high for years to come.


Simon Birmingham: The real problem in terms of electricity prices at present lies in the fact that there’s not enough confidence in the gas markets to expand. It’s too slow to get approvals, and those things are putting pressure in terms of the peaking prices that play such a key role in setting energy prices. And so, the Labor Government really needs to hear the offer from Peter Dutton and act on it in terms of delivering some reforms that will bring more gas to bear in the market, that can really help to stabilise those prices and still play a key role in the transition to clean energy and play a key role in that transition to getting emissions down.


Peter Stefanovic: Just into your portfolio, Simon, clemency for two Australians who had been on death row in Vietnam, something the Prime Minister has been able to secure. He confirmed that last night. Your reaction to it?


Simon Birmingham: This is very welcome news. Australia stands against the death penalty in all circumstances, and we work hard right around the world where Australians face the death penalty to advocate for them to receive clemency for countries not to apply. And I really want to pay tribute to our hard working diplomatic and consular officials who day in, day out, spend months and years working on these types of cases to secure outcomes like this that become possible during some of these sorts of visits.


Peter Stefanovic: Simon Birmingham, the Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, appreciate it. We’ll talk to you again soon.