Doorstop - Canberra (5)

28 May 2015


SUBJECT/S: State of Origin; Budget; NATSEM Modelling; Struggle Street; Citizenship

JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well, first things first: congratulations to the mighty Queensland Maroons last night for Game 1 – I’m getting the thumbs up from one of the camos here!  A magnificent result for Queensland last night, and particularly for my community. Two of Logan City’s favourite sons – Cameron Smith and Corey Parker – did a wonderful job last night.  I think of all the kids of Logan City watching their two heroes from Logan Brothers do the job for Queensland last night.

When it comes to this Parliamentary sitting week, it’s been defined by two things: one, the Abbott Government’s attack on the families that make up middle Australia, and two, their attempts to lie and smear their way out of that fact. A fiercely independent modelling outfit called NATSEM has studied carefully all of the implications of the Federal Budget and has concluded that the second Budget from Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey is a lot like the first.  The second Hockey Budget is the first Hockey Budget with a dodgy coat of paint. And as we scratch the surface of this second Budget, as we scratch away the paint, it looks more and more like their first unfair, divisive and politically motivated effort.

JOURNALIST: The SBS have been filming the second version of Struggle Street in Logan. Are you concerned about how people in your community could be portrayed?

CHALMERS: I think it’s important for a community like mine that we tell an honest story about not just the challenges we face, but also the opportunities and the good stories about the people who are doing their best to make a life in Logan City. I couldn’t be prouder that I was born and bred in Logan and that I get to represent it now in this place. I’m someone who will always defend the interests of my community.  I think that there are upsides and downsides of that first documentary that was filmed in Ed Husic’s electorate. I would be very concerned to ensure that any story that’s told about Logan City doesn’t just tell the story about the challenges we face – the many and varied challenges we face including persistently high youth unemployment and unemployment more generally – but also the tremendous stories. The stories about people who are making a life there, doing the right thing, making a contribution to their community.  My community is a community that looks out for each other and looks after each other, and any story told about Logan City should include that key fact about the place.

JOURNALIST: The NATSEM figures were modelling on both Budgets not just on the 2015 Budget. That appears to show Labor realises the latest one doesn’t really have the same gremlins as the first one.

CHALMERS: I don’t accept that for a moment. NATSEM looked at the budget measures on the table, and concluded that nine out of ten low income families are worse off. Nine out of ten high income families are better off. They concluded that the families of middle Australia are having thousands of dollars ripped out of their pocket by the combination of Abbott Government policies that are on the table.

JOURNALIST: Yeah, but they’re over two Budgets so it does appear to indicate – the fact that Labor decided to group both budgets in together – that they needed the 2014 gremlins to paint that picture again.

CHALMERS: No, not at all. The second Budget is the first Budget with a dodgy coat of paint. There are only two measures that have been discontinued in the second Budget from the first Budget. We still have big swinging cuts to family payments in particular. We still have $100,000 degrees. We still have $80 billion cuts to schools and hospitals. It’s not possible to look at the two budgets separately, when you consider that so many of the damaging and divisive measures from the first Budget live on in the second. Joe Hockey on Budget Night told Laurie Oakes; he went through a long list of measures that were “still on the table” from the first Budget. The most damaging for the families of Middle Australia are those big family payments cuts.

JOURNALIST: What are your views about the proposed changes to citizenship rules – the idea of stripping dual nationals of their Australian citizenship?

CHALMERS: We’ve said to the Government all along that we’d be prepared to listen to a briefing on these issues. It’s terribly concerning that you hear about and read about Cabinet deliberations on national security. The Abbott Government is terribly divided over these issues as we know from multiple newspaper reports. We always seek to play a positive role – a constructive role – in conversations about national security, and we’ll continue that approach.

JOURNALIST: But just putting the politics aside, what do you think about that idea?

CHALMERS: We’ve said repeatedly that we’re interested in a proper briefing about that proposal. Whatever comes out of the divided Abbott Government we will listen to and we will approach constructively.