SKY Sunday Agenda 03/04/22

03 April 2022

SUBJECTS: Anthony Albanese’s Queensland Campaign Rally; Scott Morrison turns his back on Queenslanders when we need him most; Scott Morrison’s colleagues and character; Labor’s policy agenda; India FTA; Andrew Charlton; Solomon Islands and aid for the Pacific.


SUBJECTS: Anthony Albanese’s Queensland Campaign Rally; Scott Morrison turns his back on Queenslanders when we need him most; Scott Morrison’s colleagues and character; Labor’s policy agenda; India FTA; Andrew Charlton; Solomon Islands and aid for the Pacific.


KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: Let's go live to Brisbane now. I'm joined by the Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers, who's joining us today from the Labor Party Queensland rally. We're not officially into the campaign Jim Chalmers, but you're undertaking this rally today I guess as an unofficial start. When you look at the various states, Labor doing quite well in most states, not so much in Queensland, why is that?

JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: Good morning Kieran. We don't underestimate the scale of the challenge here in Queensland. We do have to work twice as hard for every vote and that's appropriate that we do that. This is a state which is working Scott Morrison out. They know that Scott Morrison turned his back on us when we needed him most, whether it's during the pandemic or during the floods. This is a Prime Minister that duds Queensland again and again and again and the contrast is really clear. Anthony Albanese has a genuine affinity with Queenslanders. He shows up, and not just at election time. He takes responsibility. He wants to govern for the whole country. He understands the place. So today at this rally, you will hear a lot about his approach to governing for the whole country but with that affinity for Queenslanders. We do have a big job ahead of us here. It will be difficult to win the election without a much better showing in Queensland. We're aware of that. We understand that. Today will be a big part of that too.

GILBERT: Is there any way he can tap into some of the magic dust of the Premier as she wins elections up there for fun these days?

CHALMERS: Anthony Albanese and Annastacia Palaszczuk are very close of course, and Anthony wants to work with all of the premiers of all political persuasions right around Australia. Scott Morrison jets in here from time to time. He picks an unnecessary fight with Premier Palaszczuk. He poses with a warm tinnie of XXXX and gets back on the plane and disappears again. I think Australians are seeing through that. They're seeing through this Prime Minister. They're seeing through his Budget. He takes Queenslanders for granted. He duds us time and time again, and he went missing when we needed him most.

GILBERT: You've flagged a crackdown on multinational's tax arrangements. Beyond that, can you rule out any increases to taxes in government?

CHALMERS: We've made it very clear Kieran, that we don't have any proposals for tax increases beyond working with other countries to make the multinational tax regime fairer. There are other ways to deal with this legacy of a trillion dollars in debt and not enough to show for it. There are other ways to fund our commitments responsibly, so that we do the right thing by the Budget, by people, and by their economy. We have made that very clear for some time. We've outlined our alternative priorities. That has been clear to now, it will be even clearer in the election campaign.

I think this scare campaign - this latest scare campaign - from Scott Morrison speaks volumes about a Government, which has been in office now for almost a decade, entirely bereft of any ideas for a better future. We saw that in the Budget, a Budget which has a shelf life of six or seven weeks. A desperate, political, and panicked pamphlet, when the country needs a plan for a better future. So there'll be more of these sorts of scare campaigns. We've made it clear repeatedly and for some time now we're not taking that tax agenda to this election that we took to the last one. Our priority is multinational taxes, we couldn't be clearer about that.

GILBERT: Does that, just for clarity - for once and for all, let's get some 100% clarity on it - does that include scrapping the policy from the last election to crack down on trusts?

CHALMERS: Yeah, we're not taking that policy to this election Kieran. I think we've made that pretty clear as well. There was an agenda at the last election, which we are not proceeding with. We said that the priority in tax reform is to make the multinational tax system fairer. Most of the countries around the world are coming to that conclusion too, and we want to work with them on that. Beyond that, our priorities are cleaner and cheaper energy, and cheaper and more accessible childcare, dealing with skill shortages, building the digital economy, the care economy and advanced manufacturing. These are our economic priorities.

The Government wants to re-prosecute the last election campaign because they've got no ideas about the future. We saw that in the Budget. I think every day in this election campaign there'll be a new scare campaign from Scott Morrison based on lies and Australians deserve much better than that.

GILBERT: Do you concede that the FTA with India is a massive win, huge potential for exporters and also a coup for the Government ahead of the election?

CHALMERS: Well, it's welcome progress. Our concern has been for some time that the Government's been dragging its feet. The Varghese Report came out in 2018. The Government has implemented one out of the 90 recommendations made in that really important report. So we want to see progress made with India, with its 1.4 billion people, obviously a massive market for us and we want to get the relationship right. We'll get briefings from our Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We'll get briefings from the Indian side as well. There'll be a process to go through. We have welcomed that progress, whether it's happening on the eve of an election or otherwise. It is important, it is crucial for our economy that we get that relationship right, with such a big market, with such potential benefits for our exporters, our employers and our workers, so long as we get all the details right.

GILBERT: On a few other matters. The Prime Minister has rejected claims made against him about using the racial heritage of an opponent many, many years ago in fact, we're talking back in 2007 for a pre-selection. Is it fair to have mud like this being thrown around in the lead up to an election given its we're talking about 15 years ago, it hasn't come up till now?

CHALMERS: I don't think anybody believes the Prime Minister, frankly. I don't think people believe the Prime Minister more broadly. There's a pattern here. The people who know Scott Morrison the best, who've worked with him the closest, have the lowest opinion of him and are least likely to trust him. We've seen across the board for some years now the people who he's worked closest with, the people who know him best, his own colleagues, have the lowest opinion of him. They can't trust him and I think that's become clear. Whether it's this issue here being raised or issues more broadly, that's the pattern.

GILBERT: The Labor candidate for Parramatta, Andrew Charlton, has already caused some speculation that he's a future Treasurer. Do you see - he's a future star if he gets into the Parliament, no doubt given his qualifications - but do you see him as a threat?

CHALMERS: Of course not. I see him as someone who could make a massive contribution to national life. As a friend of mine, I'm really proud of him for putting his hand up. As an Australian, I'm pleased that somebody of his calibre wants to serve a community and wants to serve in the national Parliament. I've already been campaigning with and for him in Parramatta. We had an important discussion with the job creators of Western Sydney. I think he brings immense capacity and immense talent to the team. I really want to work with him again. I've worked with him before. He is someone that I'm very close to, and I expect if the people of Parramatta support him in this election, he will make an immense contribution.

GILBERT: Final question, it's not a very popular one it seems. It doesn't get asked much, but it's important in terms of what we do as a nation. On overseas Official Development Assistance - foreign aid basically - we used to spend not so long ago every dollar of aid was $6 in defence, now it's every dollar in aid is $12 in defence. Is that balance out of whack?

CHALMERS: Well, you can see the consequences of that can't you Kieran? I think in particular, for example, the Solomon Islands, I think aid spending is down 21 per cent since 2018-19. So we need to do much better than that obviously when you consider the challenges in our region amongst our nearest neighbours. We will have a policy on the Pacific which goes beyond the Government's slogan of a Pacific step up. Foreign Aid will be part of that, so will climate change, so will better quality defence spending. Really right across the board our obligation to our neighbours, and to Australians frankly, is to do a much better job managing those relationships because the consequences of mismanaging those relationships are dire.

GILBERT: Jim Chalmers, joining us live from Brisbane, appreciate it.