Sky News with Kieran Gilbert

24 April 2024



Kieran Gilbert: In the meantime, let's go live to Kempsey and Kempsey in NSW. At the Akubra factory, we find the Assistant Trade Minister, Tim Ayres. Tim, thanks for your time. I want to ask you about the Akubra visit in a moment, what you're there for, but I want to kick off with the CPI number. inflation proving quite sticky. This does raise the prospect, as I spoke to economist Warren Hogan, that the RBA, rather than cut rates, might have to hike them again. That would be pretty devastating.



Senator Tim Ayres, Assistant Minister for Trade and Manufacturing: Well, of course you'd expect me to say, Kieran, that the government's not going to comment, and we shouldn't comment on what the independent Reserve Bank of Australia does in relation to inflation rates. I would say that this is further evidence of inflation moderating. It is good from where we began to now have annualised inflation with a three in front of it. These numbers will jump around a bit over time. And the government's focus here is not on commentary about what the independent institution should do, but on what we as a government can do to contribute to downward pressure on inflation, but also supporting Australians through this time. And that's why the energy price relief was there last year. That's why we've amended the tax legislation to make sure that every Australian gets a tax cut, with bigger tax cuts targeted at low- and middle-income Australia. And that's why the government's fiscal discipline approach has been so rigorous, so that we're putting downward pressure on inflation and through that, of course, into interest rate decisions.



Kieran: And that's got to be front of mind, doesn't it, when Jim Chalmers delivers his next budget. The last thing you would want to see now, given this number has come in higher than economists had anticipated, the last thing you would want to see is an expansionary budget right now.



Senator Ayres: We’ll see, the CPI figures move around a bit, Kieran, but everything that the government has done, every decision that we have made, is about downward pressure on inflation for households and for business, improving the productive performance of our economy, so that in the coming years, we've got more capacity to be able to deal with inflationary threats and building the resilience of households during this period. We know Australians are continuing to do it tough, particularly if they're paying rent or if they've got a mortgage. We are absolutely focused on middle-income Australia and what's happening in the suburbs. It's underlined every single decision that we've made and every policy decision we'll make up to the budget and beyond.



Kieran: Okay. Well, you're at the Akubra factory there at Kempsey. What's the visit all about? I thought you might be- you might have donned one for our chat this afternoon.



Senator Ayres: Well, I understand they've got a shop here. Who knows what might happen? A bald fellow like me does need a hat. I think a fella needs a hat.



Kieran: Indeed.



Senator Ayres: So, it's a bit rough and ready here. I have to say, I've got a human tripod here, somebody holding that. So, we're doing the very best that we can. This is an opportunity, Kieran, for me to talk to the company. It's an iconic Australian company, employs several hundred people here who I'll get to meet later on today. Workers in a country town, Kempsey, in the mid-North Coast of NSW. It's an opportunity to talk about our Future Made in Australia policy framework that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer are unrolling in the lead up to the budget. This is the biggest pro-manufacturing, biggest industry policy position of any government in Australian political history. We are determined to capture the economic opportunities of this moment for Australia and Australians, and particularly for regional Australia. This is where new factories will go. Not into the CBD's and inner cities of our big cities, but into our outer suburbs, to our big industrial heartland regions like La Trobe and Hunter Valley, central Queensland, and into our country towns. And, you know, this factory here, Akubra, Saxbys that makes soft drinks down the road, these facilities are the core of these communities. They offer good jobs, great economic certainty, and making sure that they're continuing to invest in, you know, the new technologies of the future. Investing in new markets in Australia and overseas is one of the core focuses of the government in both of the junior portfolio opportunities, portfolios that I'm very privileged to represent in trade and manufacturing.



Kieran: Well, we'll let you go and get that hat. It is a beautiful part of Australia, Kempsey. Enjoy the visit. Thanks for your time.