JIM CHALMERS MP
MEMBER FOR RANKIN
SKY NEWS AM AGENDA
FRIDAY, 12 MARCH 2021
SUBJECTS: Morrison Government rolling out vaccines too slowly and withdrawing economic support too quickly; Widespread disappointment at the government’s announcement; Dressing up as a pilot no substitute for a jobs plan.
LAURA JAYES, HOST: The Shadow Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, has been listening in to the Prime Minister, and he joins us live from Brisbane. Jim Chalmers, the vaccine. Are you OK with this first dose now being rolled out by October, therefore the second dose being pushed into next year?
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: Very clearly, Laura, the government's dropped the ball on this vaccine, just like they dropped the ball yesterday on support for jobs. And this is a government which is getting the vaccine away too slowly and pulling support for the economy and jobs too quickly - and both of those things will have consequences for jobs and the economy more broadly. We just saw the Prime Minister there get very stroppy with that journalist. Once again, he doesn't like to take responsibility for things and he doesn't like it pointed out when he's overpromised and underdelivered.
It was the Prime Minister that said there'd be four million vaccinations away this month. We're almost halfway through March and they're almost four million short. So, it's entirely reasonable for us, and for that journalist, and for the Australian community more broadly, to say enough of the overpromising and underdelivering. Their failure to get the vaccine away quickly enough and their pulling of support out of the economy too quickly, will have consequences.
JAYES: Well, we weren't the only ones that were confused. Alan Joyce was talking about the vaccine rollout being complete by October, he's banking on overseas flights by then. That's not going to happen, is it?
CHALMERS: It remains to be seen, Laura, but it seems unlikely at this point and, clearly, the slower the government goes at getting the vaccine away, and the quicker they pull support from the economy, the worse off people will be in terms of jobs and livelihoods. The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have been talking about this not being a race, but it is a race. It's a race to save people's lives, and protect their livelihoods, and save their jobs. And so, I think we do need a bit more urgency here from the government. All we're asking is that they live up to the big, bold claims they made about being at the front of the queue and getting 4 million vaccinations away this month. These weren't our commitments, these are the Prime Minister's commitments. He's falling well short of them.
JAYES: Yep, and just reports overnight, that Joe Biden is going to commit to getting every American who wants the vaccine by the end of May, and we can even get a fraction of that with a much smaller population by the end of October. Let's talk about jobs, very quickly. I spoke to the owner, a woman who runs the Oxford Arts Factory in Sydney. She's going to have to close the doors to that because - or potentially close the doors to that - because of the lack of support from the government. Are you seeing that as a familiar story around the country?
CHALMERS: Absolutely. I mean, this announcement’s gone down like a lead balloon. I think people recognise that the Prime Minister coming up with an excuse to dress up as a pilot and do picfacs, is no substitute for a jobs plan. The Prime Minister's cuts to JobKeeper will cut jobs at the end of this month, and that's what the person you interviewed was talking about. He was flashing around a fake plane ticket the other day. What the Prime Minister has in store for people with his cuts to JobKeeper is a ticket to unemployment for too many Australians. Waving around a fake plane ticket is not a jobs plan.
JAYES: That is good for tourism though, these government subsidised flights. There's a bit of ridiculousness going around at the suggestion that this was just targeted at regional Liberal-held seats, isn't it?
CHALMERS: I'm pleased you asked me about that, Laura, because I've spent most of this week in the tourism hotspots of Cairns, and Launceston, and also in Hobart. And I've been speaking to so many small businesses, and tourism operators, local business representatives, and workers, and they were expecting much more from this announcement. We have a million Australians on JobKeeper right now, and the Treasury expects something like 100,000 of them will lose their jobs when JobKeeper is cut by the government. And a lot of those workers, and a lot of those small businesses, are in these areas.
Even in the areas where the government says that they will subsidise plane tickets, there's a lot of disappointment in those communities that this support will actually flow through. And so it's a fair effort, Laura, to spend $1.2 billion and still have the industry disappointed, and the community more broadly disappointed. And I think what that reflects is that people understand that the Prime Minister dressing up as a pilot is no substitute for a proper jobs plan. And that the Prime Minister's cuts to JobKeeper at the end of this month will be a ticket to unemployment for too many Australians in those communities you identified, but also around the country.
JAYES: Yeah, look, we can't throw taxpayer funds around like confetti though, but, Jim Chalmers, we thank you for your time, a little bit short and sweet today. We appreciate it.
CHALMERS: Thank you, Laura.