WEDNESDAY, 7 OCTOBER 2020
SUBJECT: Federal Budget.
GARETH PARKER, HOST: Jim Chalmers is the Shadow Treasurer, Jim good morning.
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: G’Day Gareth how are you?
PARKER: Good thanks. Will the Labor Party pass these tax cuts in their entirety?
CHALMERS: It’s looking that way Gareth, certainly we’re in favour of those tax cuts you were just discussing with Joe. There are some other measures in the tax area that we’re having a good look at that we’re inclined to support but some of them are pretty expensive so we want to take the time to go through it, make sure we’re doing the right and responsible thing before we lock in.
PARKER: Treasurer Josh Frydenberg talked about a private sector led recovery. Do you think this budget will unleash a wave of business investment that creates jobs?
CHALMERS: That’s certainly the intention, that’s what we’d be looking for if we were to support these changes to business taxes. We’ve had a problem with business investment around Australia even before COVID-19, it’s been one of the big things holding the economy back for a few years now. So we’ve said for some time we think the tax system has got a role to play to encourage business to invest onshore in Australia and that’s what these policies are supposed to do. We’re working our way through them literally as we speak to make sure they do what we need them to do.
PARKER: The bonus for employing people under the age of 35, I said to Mathias Cormann I think that’s a good policy, I think it’s important you give young people an opportunity to get a toe hold in the job market but I do worry that it might inadvertently create discrimination against older workers. Mathias Cormann dismissed that possibility, what do you think?
CHALMERS: I think there is an issue there and not just younger workers versus older workers, the cut off is at 35, there’s a lot of working families including families with young kids who would miss out under that cut off. There’s a lot of numbers in budget week Gareth so I’m reluctant to give another one but this one for me is one of the most important ones in the whole budget; 928,000 Australians who are currently on unemployment benefits aren’t eligible for this hiring subsidy. We think that’s an issue. If you want to encourage employers to put people on, that seems to be a big chunk of the population you’re excluding deliberately.
PARKER: They’re not eligible because they’re too old or haven’t been on JobSeeker for long enough?
CHALMERS: Largely because they miss that 35 year old cut off.
PARKER: I get the rationale for it, I get it’s important to incentivise getting young people into work and Mathias Cormann’s explanation that if young people aren’t in work for a long period of time they never end up in work, that does make sense to me, but if you’ve got an extra $200 a week to spend on a person under the age of 35 versus a person over the age of 35 well does that unfairly tilt the balance?
CHALMERS: There’s another issue too Gareth, just very briefly, I know you want to move on. Think about it, if you’re 40, you’ve just had your JobKeeper payment cut, if you have to go onto JobSeeker there’s nothing in the budget to say that you won’t be going back to the old $40 a day, so the alternatives are pretty difficult. You need to see the whole budget in its entirety – there’s still the JobKeeper cuts, we don’t know what’s happening with JobSeeker so it’s probably the $40 a day rate, so for that person, one of those 928,000 Australian workers you wouldn’t be too pleased with what’s gone down last night.
PARKER: We had a brief period of free childcare throughout this country through the height of the pandemic restrictions but we’ve gone back to the system that prevailed before – would you like to have seen more done there?
CHALMERS: It is remarkable really – they racked up a trillion dollars in debt in this budget and still found a way to ignore women, largely, and childcare but not just childcare, aged care, parts of the care economy which are so crucial for looking after each other but also in terms of employment. One of the bizarre things as we were leafing through the budget, we get locked away for a few hours to have a read of it in the late afternoon, and I think a lot of people were scratching their heads thinking how did they rack up so much debt and still not do any of those things – still not do public housing, still not do renewable energy. There are a lot of gaps in the budget which is hard to understand given how much money was spraying around.
PARKER: Forgive me the personal question Jim, what will you do with your tax cut – will you spend it or save it?
CHALMERS: I don’t know yet to be honest with you, probably spend it, I have three little kids at my place and kids are expensive. I’m not sure is the short answer, people will do different things, I thought that conversation with Joe was interesting because everyone comes at it from a different perspective but we need it spent in our local shops and businesses to get ourselves out of this horrible recession.
PARKER: Jim Chalmers thank you for your time.
CHALMERS: Thanks Gareth.