JIM CHALMERS MP
MEMBER FOR RANKIN
SUNDAY, 9 MAY 2021
SUBJECTS: Budget; Supporting Australian women in the recovery; Cost of the Morrison Government’s failures on vaccines and quarantine; Treasurer’s admission on JobMaker; Aged Care.
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: The Budget on Tuesday night needs to come clean on the costs and consequences of the Prime Minister's vaccines and quarantine debacles. We see on the front pages today, more commentary from the Prime Minister about the international border. This is an admission of failure from the Prime Minister. There are costs and consequences associated with the Prime Minister comprehensively stuffing-up vaccines and comprehensively stuffing-up quarantine, as well. We need to see those costs outlined in the Budget on Tuesday night.
Now, the Australian economy is recovering, and that's welcome, but that recovery is patchy, and it's hostage to uncertainty, including on vaccines and quarantine. There are still almost two million Australians who can't get work or enough hours to support their loved ones.
So, what we need to see in the Budget on Tuesday night, can't just be another trillion-dollar political patch and paint job. We need this Budget to undo the damage that has been done by eight long years of this coalition Government. We need this Budget to invest in people, and their jobs, and opportunities, and the future. It can't just be another budget to get this Government through an election. It needs to be a Budget which is all about turning around the coalition's failure on job security, and wage stagnation, and underemployment. What we need to see in the Budget on Tuesday night is not another political patch and paint job, but a genuine plan to invest in people, and their jobs, and opportunities. It can't be another pamphlet, it needs to be a plan. The Budget needs to be a plan, not a pamphlet. It needs to be a genuine Budget, and not just another brochure.
We hear today, that the Government intends to invest some money in women's health services. Obviously, we want to see adequate investment in health services for Australian women. For too long now, some of these areas have been neglected, for much of the last eight years of this coalition Government.
This Morison Government sees Australia's women as a political problem to be managed, and not a genuine area for investment, to undo some of the damage of the last eight years in this coming budget. Never forget, this Prime Minister said in response to a question about maternity services in regional Australia, that that's why he was building better roads. So, we'll have a look at what's being proposed, obviously, we will be positive about investment in health services for women. But this Morison Government’s record on Australian women when it comes to investment in health and in other areas, has been shameful. We don't want to see this just treated as another political problem to be managed. We want genuine investment, and genuine understanding of the particular challenges faced by women in this country. Over to you.
JOURNALIST: Shadow Minister, you're demanding costings on how the vaccine rollout has impacted the economy. Do you think that we’ll actually see any of that kind of detail?
CHALMERS: Well, in the last Budget, the Government said that if they got the vaccinations away faster than they promised, then there would be a multi-billion dollar benefit. We're calling on the Government to quantify the costs and consequences of badly stuffing-up the vaccines rollout. If there was a benefit to doing it quicker, there is a cost to doing it slower. So, we need to see that detail. We need the Prime Minister and Treasurer to come clean on the costs and consequences of this debacle on vaccines and quarantine. If that's not in the Budget on Tuesday night, then the Treasurer and the Prime Minister need to explain what they're trying to hide.
JOURNALIST: So, you say that you welcome the economic recovery. How could it have been better?
CHALMERS: Just because the recession in Australia could have been worse, doesn't mean that the recovery couldn’t be better. To the extent that there's a recovery in the economy, that's a good thing. But it's a credit, not to the Government, but to the Australian people, who did the right thing by each other to limit the spread of the virus. There are still almost two million people without work or without enough work. The Government is at risk of leaving all of those Australians behind.
What we're seeing today is this smug, self-satisfaction from the Treasurer. Australia can't afford another ‘look at me’ Budget. Australia can't afford another Budget, which is all about the Treasurer and the Prime Minister, and not about Australians, and their jobs, and job security, and their wages. These characters have not learnt from printing the ‘back in black’ mugs, that it's not about marketing, it's not about spin, it's not about how many jobs you forecast, it's about how many good, secure jobs are actually delivered. And what we'll be looking for in the Budget on Tuesday night, is not just how many jobs the Government says will flow from their Budget, but whether or not they have an actual plan for good, secure jobs, which turns around the job insecurity, and wage stagnation, that we've seen for eight long years, and which will continue into the future if the coalition is re-elected.
The Treasurer this morning had to admit that the centrepiece of last year's Budget, the JobMaker scheme, he said 450,000 jobs would flow from the JobMaker Hiring Credit Scheme. He had to admit today, that it was more like 1,000 jobs. So, only 1 in every 450 jobs he promised would flow from last year's Budget centrepiece, have actually flowed. We can't take this Government seriously when it comes to wages and job security. We can't take them seriously when it comes to how many jobs they say will flow from their policies. The Treasurer has been humiliated, once again, the Butterfingers of Australian politics, having to admit that instead of 450,000 jobs flowing from the centrepiece of last year's Budget, it’s more like 1,000 jobs. And what that means, is no matter what the Government says on Tuesday night about the jobs that will flow from this year's Budget, you can't take them seriously.
JOURNALIST: There might be more than $10 billion over the next four years spent on a aged care. Do you think that’s enough?
CHALMERS: Well, aged care is a disgrace, which is letting down older Australians. The Royal Commission uncovered shocking stories about maggots in wounds, people who are missing meals. Now, this is not the fault of the aged care workforce, who does their absolute best to look after older Australians. The aged care system has been failing older Australians for too long. The Royal Commission has provided some shocking stories, and some analysis, of what's gone wrong here.
We need Tuesday night's Budget to fix aged care, once and for all. We want to see the issues dealt with, in terms of the quality of care, but also the workforce issues as well. We'll see what the Government proposes on Tuesday night. There’s a lot of work to be done here and a lot of neglect over the last eight years that needs to be undone. That's a key test for the Budget, whether or not it fixes the problems in aged care, which have emerged under the Government’s watch. Thanks very much.