DOORSTOP INTERVIEW WITH TEN NEWS
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 3 SEPTEMBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Recession; Tax cuts; The Morrison Government’s absence of a jobs plan.
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: The recession is deeper than it needs to be and the unemployment queues are longer because too many people have been left behind, excluded from JobKeeper, and because the Government is withdrawing support from the economy while unemployment is still rising.
VAN ONSELEN: So what should the Government have done to make this recession less damaging than it seems to now be?
CHALMERS: JobKeeper wasn't broad enough to capture enough casual workers, aviation, university and other workers. Clearly there has been an issue there. Many of the people who have joined the unemployment queues have come from those parts of the economy. That's made the unemployment queues longer. The main concern we have right now is that the Government is in a rush to pull support out of the economy while unemployment is rising and they don't have a jobs plan to replace it.
VAN ONSELEN: It looks like tax cuts might be brought forward. Do you broadly agree with that?
CHALMERS: Let's see what the Government announces. They haven't made an announcement yet. They’ve sent up some smoke signals which we've all seen. If they announce something properly then we will engage with it responsibly and constructively, we’ll discuss it and we'll come to a view. Bringing forward some tax cuts is no substitute for a comprehensive plan for jobs and that's what Australia really needs.
VAN ONSELEN: Are you surprised at just how big the dip was in GDP?
CHALMERS: I think everybody knew that these were going to be the darkest days in the Australian economy for almost a century. The Australian people certainly understood that things were pretty grim. We need to know now what the Government is actually going to do about it.
VAN ONSELEN: What do you think of the term "COVID Recession"? That seems to be the line that the Government is using.
CHALMERS: They are desperate for this not to be the Morrison-Frydenberg recession. Whatever you call it is not the most important thing. The most important thing is that people are doing it tough and unemployment queues are longer than they need to be. Our job in the national parliament and the Government's job in particular is to do what they can to protect and create jobs so that this misery brought to us by the recession doesn't continue for one day longer than it needs to.
VAN ONSELEN: What's your response to the Government saying that it could have been worse, look around at the rest of the world?
CHALMERS: It's cold comfort for the million Australians who have already lost their job and the 400,000 who will lose their jobs. It is absolutely meaningless for the Government to say to someone who has lost their job, chin up, we're not as bad as Donald Trump's America.