NATIONAL PRESS CLUB Q&A
WEDNESDAY, 14 OCTOBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Federal Budget; Income Tax Cuts; Negative Gearing; Social Housing; Childcare.
SABRA LANE: Voters were spooked by Labor's tax policies at the last election and since you've touched on the next election possibly being next year. How difficult will it be for Labor to win given that in times of uncertainty voters tend to stick with what they know?
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: Don't count us out, Sabra. Obviously the political circumstances are very different right now. It's difficult right now for oppositions, not just ours but around the world and around the country, it's a difficult time to be an opposition. I think the responsibility that we've tried to live up to, is to be the kind of opposition that wants the Government's policies to succeed because failure means the unemployment queues are longer and the recession is deeper and more damaging. So every day all of us try and strike the right balance. We disagree with the Government where we must and we agree where we can. That circumstance won't endure forever. As we get into the next year which might be an election year and as we saw last Thursday night in Anthony's terrific budget reply speech, we shouldn't assume that the circumstances we find ourselves in now are the circumstances that we will fight the election on. It will be partly about the Government's handling of this recession but I think it will be primarily about what the country looks like afterwards. I think that's natural territory for us and I don't think anyone should count us out.
SHANE WRIGHT: Shane Wright from the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age. Mr Chalmers in the speech you noted that Labor's aim was to get back to full employment which the Reserve Bank, I think only last week, said has probably moved up from 4.5 to 5 per cent. Josh Frydenberg says automatic stabilisers will end once unemployment gets under 6 per cent so there's a bit of a difference in your aims. We've got a budget estimated deficit of $112 billion for 2021-22, does this mean if you're looking to use the levers of government to get unemployment down to around 5 per cent, that there's no way around it that you will have to run slightly larger deficits and carry more debt than what the Government's outlined in its budget?
CHALMERS: I think the Government's 6 per cent unemployment target shows a real lack of ambition, and that lack of ambition poisons the whole budget. So we have said repeatedly, I've heard Katy say it and others, that we think that putting the cue back in the rack when we get under 6 per cent is far too early and it might be counterproductive. What we've said, we've seen the Government's fiscal strategy, is that we can be more ambitious on jobs. You're right that there's no consensus on the precise percentage that equals full employment. It was the middle of last year, I think in Adelaide, that the Reserve Bank Governor was talking about not just full employment with a 4 in front of it, but also all the spare capacity that that unemployment rate doesn't properly capture and I know that you know what I'm talking about. So the point that we're making is, let's not put the cue in the rack too early when it comes to supporting the economy. In terms of the overall levels of debt, and the overall levels of spending, obviously that's really important but what matters just as much, as I tried to say today, is not just the level of spending but the quality of spending. What we saw in the budget was all of these buckets of money for ministers to dole out in election years. We've seen this movie before, we know how it ends. We want to spend taxpayers money more effectively. Every single dollar of it is borrowed for at least the foreseeable future. We measure the effectiveness of what we commit to by what it means for jobs.
SABRA LANE: An elegant answer, but did you not avoid saying - Shane?
SHANE WRIGHT: Is it necessary that you get to the point where you're going to have to say right, deficits might have to run higher than what is envisaged in the budget?
CHALMERS: Well first of all there are as you know deficits as far as the eye can see in the budget. There's not a surplus in any horizon printed in the budget and debt peaks at something like $1.7 trillion. So we need to acknowledge that it's not a choice between surpluses and deficits, it's choice between what the deficits look like under the alternatives. We have said repeatedly, it's not necessarily a matter of spending more or borrowing more, it is a matter of spending money more effectively. We wouldn't just put the cue in the rack at 6 per cent as the Government intends to do. We need to be more ambitious about that. There's no agreement on what that number is at full employment. Unless we deploy the resources of government to get closer to full employment, then I think that we will let the Australian people down and all of this debt would have been racked up for almost nothing.
TOM CONNELL: Tom Connell from Sky News. Your leader spoke about phase three [of the income tax package] and the $80 billion going to, in his words, the very high income earners, perhaps that wouldn't be proceeded with. Would you be comfortable going to an election pledging to increase income tax overall or do you think you could look at something where that gets repurposed throughout all income taxpayers?
CHALMERS: We haven't made a decision about what we'd do with those stage three tax cuts, which don't come in for another four years. There’s something like $130 billion worth of tax cuts over 10 years but they are still some way down the track. So what we've said repeatedly, is that if we were in government we wouldn't have designed stage three that way, but they are legislated and we will come to a decision about the future of those tax cuts at some future point. The Treasurer himself let the cat out of the bag with David Speers on Sunday, when he said the reason that the Government didn't bring forward stage three of the tax cuts is because they needed to get bang for buck. That is a pretty stunning admission from the Treasurer, that even he himself doesn't think that the Government is getting value for money for those tax cuts. We will evaluate all of those things and we will see how the economy is traveling, the condition of the budget that we inherit and we'll make a decision down the track.
ANDREW PROBYN: Andrew Probyn, ABC. I'm also going to ask about tax cuts because tax cuts got you in a fair pickle last election, I'm sure you'd admit that. If you listen to all of the winks and the nods coming the Press Gallery's way it looks like you want to reduce the stage three $200,000 threshold to about $180,000 which would mean that you would be asking someone to pay an extra $3,000 in tax at $200,000. Do you have the stomach, given what happened at the last election to actually prosecute that argument? And where is it that you say a rich income starts?
CHALMERS: We're always typically reluctant to nominate a figure, but I think the tax system does for us. There is the highest income bracket that goes from $180,000 to $200,000. From my point of view that's as useful measure as any. It's the ATO's measure, what they implement from what the Government tells them. In terms of the tax policies we take to the election, again as I said to Tom, we will determine those between now and the next election. I don't personally feel that we need to be in a rush to conclude a view on tax cuts which don't come in for another four years.
ANDREW PROBYN: But do you have the stomach?
CHALMERS: We're up for an argument in the election about the best version of Australia after COVID, and how that can be better than what it was pre-COVID. Our policies will include childcare, cleaner and cheaper energy, and all of these things that we've been talking about. We've said and we've been pretty upfront about it, we've done what we could responsibly do to pass stage one and two but we've expressed our reservations with stage three. We haven't come to a concluded view because they come in so far down the track.
KATHARINE MURPHY: Katharine Murphy from Guardian Australia. You pointed out in his speech that growth was low and persistently low before the crisis, that's a structural problem we've seen it all around the world. I listened to everything you guys say, and I'm still not clear what Labor's solution to that structural problem is of persistent low economic growth. If, as you seem to be hinting, one of the solutions to that problem is a more present government chasing investment that delivers better fiscal multipliers, how does that solution go down in the places where you've just done your road trip in Cairns? In parts of regional Queensland? Basically in the places that turned their backs on Labor at the last election?
CHALMERS: Well firstly on the issue of public investment versus incentivising the private sector, there's not actually an argument from us there. There is an important role to incentivise the private sector when you think about the wealth creating, job generating role of the private sector. It’s obviously absolutely crucial to the recovery and the Government always wants to try and pretend that one party is for the private sector and one party is for the public sector. What we're arguing for is a better sense of balance, and a better sense of bang for buck and I think the Government has put all of their eggs in one basket. Quite a narrow set of initiatives which are still nonetheless quite expensive and what we've said is, if you recognise that every dollar is borrowed, there's a trillion dollars of debt in the budget already, $100 billion almost in new spending, then let's get the balance right so that we're getting value for money for the money that we're investing. You can ask almost any economist, and they will say if you're genuinely chasing value for money you do social housing. It's labour intensive, it gets the money out the door quickly and builds a lasting benefit for our most vulnerable people, so I think it's an issue of balance. I don't want to let the Government pretend that Labor is not attentive to the needs of the private sector. I think about the needs of the private sector, more than any other part of the economy, obviously it's crucial. In terms of how that will go down in regional Queensland and anywhere really outside the Sydney and Melbourne triangle. I think there's a real recognition in communities that the Government has to borrow, that we're in all sorts of strife when it comes to this recession and the jobs crisis that flows from it. So the Government needs to do what it can to protect jobs and save communities, and take Cairns for example, as I said in my speech, outside of Melbourne probably the place most impacted by this crisis because of the closure of the international border, and all of the associated issues, and the premature cutting of JobKeeper. There is certainly an appetite for the Government to step in in areas like that, not just in the ways that we've talked about but local jobs programs and in other ways as well. So I don't fear, a conversation in those places, in my home state or indeed anywhere in Australia, about the best balance between public investment and private investment.
SABRA LANE: Queenslanders are known for being pretty blunt, on that road trip did anyone impart some tips for you that will guide you and what you do?
CHALMERS: There were a few. When you go to these places and as we were talking about at our table, it's good for the soul to make sure that you're out and about outside the Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra triangle. Because one of the things that you learn is that if this country is going to recover strongly and properly from this recession, then the regions need to be a big part of that story, there's a lot of wealth that can be generated in our regions and a lot of jobs obviously that can be generated in our regions. Too often people feel forgotten in some of those towns that I've mentioned and so showing up as part of the task and properly listening, and what they tell us in those sorts of towns that I've talked about is don't forget about us and don't leave us behind. One of the reasons I talk about a situation that looks like a recovery but feels like a recession is the real fear that I have is the Government next year, when we start to get a recovering GDP or something like that, is that they might not understand the patchiness of this recovery. The fact that people will still be doing it tough. Even if we start to get what looks on paper like a recovery. So we need to make sure that we're in those communities listening, and that we've got something to offer them.
PHIL COOREY: Phil Coorey from the AFR, you said, it's a matter of spending money more efficiently. Will it for you be a matter of spending less? I asked Josh Frydenberg last week and he didn't answer the question but the Budget forecasts spending to rise sharply and then by the end of the forward estimates to return to the levels it was pre-crisis. Do you think that's a sustainable spending trajectory, beyond the forward estimate or do you envisage, a Labor government would not only spend money more efficiently but actually spend less?
CHALMERS: I think it remains to be seen whether that level of government investment will sustain jobs in the economy that far out. But certainly what I fear about the way that the spending is constructed in Tuesday night's budget where there is that quite extraordinary cliff. What we learned from the snapback, that we heard all about the end of September just gone, is that you can actually do a lot of damage by pulling support from the economy too fast, too bluntly, too inelegantly, and I feel that's the mistake that they're about to make.
PATRICK COMMINS: Patrick Commins, from the Australian newspaper. Going back to tax again and speaking of a possible election next year, given the fragility of the housing market and the need for investor certainty at a time of low confidence. Do you still plan to take into the next election, possibly next year, the negative gearing policy you had going into the last one?
CHALMERS: We haven't come to a concluded view on that. Obviously we're consulting, as we have been. Stephen Jones and I've been doing a heap of work, not just on the tax policies or the areas that Labor took to the last election but really across the board on tax. What we've said repeatedly is what we take to the election won't be identical to what we took to the last election and it won't be the same agenda, for obvious reasons. But the other thing I would say is this, one of the reasons why it's near impossible to finalise a full suite of policies this far out from election including on these issues and other issues about tax is that we have to remember we still have another budget between now and then it's quite unusual we're going to have an October budget, probably December mid-year update and then the May budget. So we don't yet have an understanding of what situation we will inherit in the economy obviously but also in the budget, and we anticipate that whatever the budget parameters are today, they won't be like that in the middle of May. So we need to make sure that we can tailor whatever policies we take to the election to the budget conditions and also the economic conditions.
SABRA LANE: Just on that there was a sizable amount of money left in the decisions made not yet announced, want to take a punt on what that's all about?
CHALMERS: I'm not sure what it is but I mentioned this before, one of the other questions, one of the issues that goes right to the core of value for money is this government is notorious for squirreling away money that they can dole around with ministerial discretion. We saw that with sports rorts, we've seen that with other parts of the Commonwealth budget and it's very troubling to us in a budget that racks up that much debt, and spends so much money and leaves so many people behind, leaves unemployment too high for too long, they still found a way to create all of these kind of buckets of funds, which clearly they intend to kind of spread around for a political outcome rather than economic outcome. I suspect some of those decisions taken but not announced fit in that category.
JONATHAN KEARSLEY: Jonathan Kearsley from 9 News. You lost the last election, one you thought you'd win, with the worst result for the Labor Party in 85 years. Looking ahead to the next election as you did, is the Labor Party still the party that working Australians look out and go that's the party for me?
CHALMERS: We need to be. There are millions of Australians who are counting on us and the temptation to kind of mope around after May last year, to drag our arses around, and to whinge about the outcome and to wish things were different, all of that is irrelevant to the millions of people who count on us. So every waking minute and I speak for our team as well, we are trying to work out what is the best that we can do for people. We can only do that if we win office. We are on the wrong side of the Parliament and not much use to anyone on that side of the Parliament with some exceptions. So we need to lift our game and our primary vote can't be in the low 30s, we need to build a constituency for change. We were unable to do that collectively at the last election. That's done, for obvious reasons, but what matters to us isn't how we feel about a loss that happened last year or even the various polls that come out from time to time, what really matters to us is there are people genuinely counting on us. I think that it would make a material difference to unemployment in this country, whether we have a Labor or Liberal government. As Anthony says the hint is in the name, we are the Labor Party we need to represent people who work and people who want to work and if we've fallen short on that in the past we need to learn from it and we need to look forward.
TEGAN GEORGE: Tegan George from Network 10. I don't know if you remember, but you lost the last election. I know you can't pre-empt policy but would Labor consider bringing back something like the post-war Commonwealth Employment Service if in government is it that kind of big thinking scheme that's required right now?
CHALMERS: It's not something that we've specifically discussed but clearly employment services are not delivering the kind of value for money that we need. There have been problems identified for some time now that are not just COVID-19 related. There were some cuts to employment services in the budget as part of cutting that youth PaTH program. So clearly we can do better than we have been and it's especially important when you consider that it's harder for people to physically present at offices for all of the obvious reasons so yes I'm sure there's an opportunity to do much better when it comes to employment services, whether it's the model that you identify or something else. I don't think what we've seen for the last seven years is built for the kind of opportunity farming that we need from employment services.
ANNABEL HENNESSY: Annabel Hennessy from the Western Australian. Thank you for your address. Sorry to bring up the last election again. But you also went the last election with a significant childcare policy. Obviously that was unsuccessful in winning the election, and also saw swings against Labor in seats with low socioeconomic demographics that likely would have benefited from that package. What makes you think this childcare package is going to make a difference with voters?
CHALMERS: Well first of all, I don't think you can blame the childcare policy for the outcome of the last election, I'm not suggesting that you do, but we shouldn't pretend that any one policy or another was decisive. We've got a habit here I think of trying to pretend that there's one decisive thing, it was a combination of things. Childcare is crucial for all the reasons I described - it's good for the economy, it's good for kids, it's good for working families especially working mums and it delivers a massive economic benefit to the country. I'm confident that we can tell that story to people and that they will understand and support our policy. I want to take the opportunity, you mentioned low socioeconomic areas in the election and that we had our biggest swings there and as someone who represents Logan City I sort of understand that I think as good as anyone. The reason I think that happened is the Government did a better job of pretending that we were the riskier option. If people are living paycheck to paycheck, if they're working lives are precarious at best, if their personal finances are insecure, then elections have big consequences for them. The reason why and it goes back to Sabra's question at the very start that I think that we will be competitive at the next election is because I think that story about risk is that it will actually be risky for us to go back to how things were before. The riskier proposition in the coming election will be the Liberal and National parties, because they want to take us back to all the job insecurity, all the financial insecurity that we saw before COVID-19. The Treasurer on Sunday kept talking about getting back to where we were, getting back to where we started. That's a very risky proposition for a lot of people who haven't been doing real well in this economy the last seven years.
SABRA LANE: If the childcare policy is as compelling as you say it is, Labor says it is and given the voices that we're hearing also from outside include the Small Business and Family Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, the chief executive Sue Morphet they are also advocating for very generous childcare policies, why is it that the Coalition is ignoring all of that?
CHALMERS: I can't understand it, Sabra. When you think about a policy, which for a relatively modest cost compared to some of the other initiatives in the budget, ticks all of those boxes that I talked about, economic benefit, good for kids, good for families especially moms, good for workforce participation - it beggars belief really that it was left out. I genuinely can't for the life of me understand why when it's so obvious that we won't fix the budget unless we fix the economy and we won't fix the economy unless we fix workforce participation why they wouldn't go down this path. I think it's a real head scratcher that they haven't done it.
COLIN BRINSDEN: Colin Brinsden, AAP and I promise I won't mention the last election. You've been going on about the budget, how bad it is, how come in the last two days we've seen consumer confidence soar particularly in today's Westpac Consumer Confidence, surely not everyone's got it wrong and it is a good budget or have they got it wrong?
CHALMERS: I don't think you can judge a budget by today's consumer confidence numbers, obviously consumer confidence matters, I'm not pretending that it doesn't but it's not the only measure you judge a budget by. You judge your budget by what it means for jobs, and what it means for real people in real communities around Australia. As you know you've been covering the consumer confidence releases for longer than I've been paying attention to them. But as you know they're notoriously volatile at times like this. It remains to be seen whether that confidence will be enduring. But I don't think we should declare victory or otherwise based on one survey.
PABLO VINALES: Pablo Vinales, SBS News. My question is also on childcare. At the last election Labor took a wage increase for childcare workers and that was obviously rejected, it was at a cost of $500 million. Is a wage increase for those workers on the table, and given the environment that we're in now, how are you going to make the case for that, if it is?
CHALMERS: We deliberately came up with a policy which started from the beginning. We tried to work out how can we allocate, what turned out to be $6.2 billion most effectively, recognising that every dollar is borrowed. You can't do everything that you want to do, overnight or fix every issue in our economy and in our society. So the policy that we announced we think it is good for the workforce, it will obviously increase demand, it will be good for jobs, but we haven't announced, and we haven't discussed or concluded a view on wages.
PABLO VINALES: So you're not ruling it out though?
CHALMERS: We don't rule anything in or out necessarily but we've announced our childcare policy, we thought the highest priority was to make sure that Australian women aren't actually penalised for going back to work or for more working more hours or more days at work. That's the immediate problem before us, it has all of the advantages I've described. We haven't gone down the path that we that we went down last time.
MATT KILLORAN: Matt Killoran from the Courier Mail. I'll switch things up and ask about the next election. Between the discussions around stage three of the tax cuts, negative gearing, potential internal divisions over coal is the Opposition currently in danger of serving up to the Government, the opportunity to basically rerun the same bruising campaigns they ran in 2019 and do you think the Labor Party has done enough today to reach out to those Labor voters who were disenfranchised last time around?
CHALMERS: I think we're working on it Matt. I think we're doing the best that we can. Clearly the Government would like to rerun old campaigns. There's not been in my 24 years in the Labor Party, there's not been a federal government more obsessed with its opponents than this one. It talks about us more than anyone. I think in Question Time by the Thursday, in record time, the Government's Dorothy Dixers were about the Labor Party, rather than about the budget that they had delivered less than 48 hours earlier so obviously, that's where they want to get to. They hope that by talking about us, it will disguise their lack of ambition for the economy and for the country. Our job is obviously not to make some of the mistakes that we made last time. That's why we've said repeatedly, probably hundreds of times, that our agenda at the next election won't be identical to the agenda that we took to the last election. Times move on, the circumstances change and we will inherit a budget drowning in red ink and an economy emerging from a deep and damaging recession, and so our policies need to reflect that.
JANE NORMAN: Hello Jim, thanks for your address today, I want to ask you again about the stage three tax cuts but only because last week Labor announced a new, more generous childcare policy that will benefit high income earners more so than they are now, so I'm just wondering how much consideration has been given to the interaction between your new childcare policy, and the future of those stage three tax cuts and can you guarantee that a mother earning $200,000 a year, for example, would still be better off under Labor's childcare plan, if you chose to either scrap or change the stage three tax cuts?
CHALMERS: Thanks Jane I think that comparison goes to the point that I've tried to make about value for money. That amount of money to workers on those kind of incomes is better spent not as a handout, not even necessarily just as cost of living relief but as something that delivers all of the dividends that I've mentioned a few times now. We think that that kind of money is best spent in childcare, recognising that there are participation benefits right up and down the income scale and we've been talking about that since Thursday night. Again, we haven't concluded a view on stage three, we've said what our concerns are. We've said that the priority should be stage one and stage two, you get more bang for buck there and the Treasurer agreed with us by accident. We'll deal with stage three at some point further down the track.
TIM SHAW: Tim Shaw, Director of the National Press Club. Mr. Chalmers, social housing question. Master Builders and the CFMMEU talked about effectively the creation of a fund to build more social housing. 120,000 Australians slept rough overnight and with COVID continuing and job losses, we're going to see a lot more people evicted or unable to support their rent. What is Labor proposing in terms of a tri-partisan approach? We had had Adam Bandt here yesterday telling us that half a million public homes should be a project. Where does Labor stand and can you work with the Coalition and with the Greens, to be able to expedite social home building programs?
CHALMERS: We'll work with anyone who wants to get some investment in social housing. Of all the people that you need to explain social housing to it's not our Leader who grew up in social housing, it's a massive priority for us. We've said that the first priority is there's something like 100,000 homes, which badly need maintenance and so what we've said is, why don't we allocate $500 million to dealing with that backlog in maintenance recognising that you can get that work done really quickly you can get started quickly. It has a health benefit but also other benefits for people living in these homes. So why don't we start with that and see what we can do. We've also got a really good record during the Global Financial Crisis, when Tanya Plibersek was the Minister, of building tens of thousands of new social housing units. The beauty of that is that we built something then, the economy desperately needed it, it was labour intensive but it built a lasting benefit that we're still benefiting from, we're still enjoying the benefit of all of that construction. So yes we'll work with anyone who wants the same thing that we do in social housing. I don't have a lot of hope for the Government, given that this has been on the agenda for some months before the budget. They had some money for NIFIC but nothing for the sorts of things that we're talking about.
NICK STUART: Jim, you've quite rightly pointed out that the Government risks giving up at say 6 per cent unemployment and not working towards trying to reduce that further and we've had a stack of foreign workers coming into the country. At what point do you give up? Do you think that 3 per cent is about the normal unemployment rate or is it 4 per cent, 5 per cent? What target are you going for?
CHALMERS: Thanks Nick two things about that as Shane and I were discussing a moment ago, there's no kind of perfect consensus on what full employment looks like. The Reserve Bank has previously said maybe 4.5 per cent, the traditional definition has been around 5 per cent, it's somewhere in there. But we also need to recognise that even that measure and again, as the Treasurer has conceded, the way that we measure employment doesn't capture the whole story of joblessness, job insecurity and underemployment in our society and so you know targets are good, but we need to make sure that we don't oversimplify what is a very complex task. In my view, the economy will need support beyond 6 per cent unemployment, we all hope that we get there as soon as possible. But I think that the reality is, even what looks like a small difference in the unemployment rate can mean hundreds of thousands of people unemployed and it also masks all of those other people who might only be working a few hours, a problem that has defined our labour market not just during COVID-19 but for a number of years before that to.
PHIL COOREY: Just to back on the tax cuts and philosophy just before you came on stage Scott Morrison was up in Queensland, and he invoked an episode in last the last election campaign where you're then leader Mr Shorten got bailed up by a blue collar worker who earned a lot of money wanting to know where his cut was. Now, the Prime Minister's just basically said to those people, we're talking high vis wearers who earn over $180,000, they work in the mines, they're FIFO workers, and he said Labor wants to treat you the same as merchant bankers. Do you have it in you this time around that should you choose to trim those tax cuts to tell these people whether they're wearing a suit in the Sydney CBD or a high vis vest in Gladstone that sorry you're just not a priority at this stage.
CHALMERS: We'll be upfront about all of our policies, and I think the moment that we're in demands frankness. I've been frank today in saying that even if we win office we won't be able to undo all the damage or what will be by then eight years of Coalition Government, we won't be able to address, every issue that we care about immediately. We've got to look for cost effectiveness and all of those things that we've been talking about so obviously we'll be up front about all of that. I find it unnerving, that the Prime Minister of this country in the depths of the deepest, most damaging recession for almost a century is doing press conferences in the Queensland election focused on what the Labor leader said in the May 2019 election. I think that speaks to a bigger truth here. This guy is only ever comfortable talking about his opponents, whether it's us or whether it's the Labor Premiers. He's the most political Prime Minister that I have seen, and the circumstances demand something better, they demand something more ambitious. The circumstances require of our Prime Minister, of that extraordinary office of extraordinary influence, more than spending his time traipsing around banging on about the Labor Party from 18 months ago. I think that's unnerving. I think it's inappropriate. I think it's disappointing and I think it goes to his character.
SABRA LANE: How do you think COVID will change Australia, in terms of lifestyle, in terms of cities?
CHALMERS: It's up to us Sabra. If there's a meta point here, it's to recognise that we know where we've been, we know what we liked and didn't like, we know what we're going through but we don't know what the future looks like. And it's for us to decide. That's why I think it's so important that we have more ambition, that we have something meaningful to show people for all of the sacrifices that they're making. Imagine waking up as a country in four or five years' time; the COVID wards are empty, the unemployment rate might have a six in front of it, or something like that, it looks like a recovery. We wake up and we tell our kids that we went through this remarkable thing and we learned nothing from it, we did nothing different after it than we did before, and our highest priority was to get back to how things were before COVID-19.That to me is that extraordinary failure of leadership. I don't just mean the Prime Minister. I mean, all of us, including friends from the Gallery. We have a big chance here, a massive chance, and we might miss it. That would be devastating. It's not book club, I know, but a lot of you read a guy called Jared Diamond. He writes about how one of the most damaging things that you can do as a country, when you look at all the ways that countries have failed in the past, the most damaging thing you can do is assume that your country has already peaked at some point in the past and that that's as good as it gets. That's what the Coalition thinks. They think that the best way to allocate all of this money is to use it to fast forward to the past. A lot of people weren't faring that well in the past. I know that from my own community, my own travels and my own conversations. We can do better than that. If you assume that our country had peaked at some point in the past, and that that's the best we can hope for, then what's the point of being involved in the work that we do?
SABRA LANE: On that note, everybody. Please join me in thanking the Shadow Treasurer.