Sky with Kieran Gilbert

11 June 2015


SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s Royal Commission into Trade Unions; Housing bubble; Joe Hockey’s comments.

KIERAN GILBERT: We’re joined now by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Opposition Leader, Jim Chalmers. Jim, first on these claims out of the Royal Commission, what’s the Labor position on this? I guess the question is when you have collective payment of workers’ union fees, does that result in a lower pay and conditions for the workers concerned?

JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Look Kieran, first a broader point. Having set up this Royal Commission as a political strategy, the least the Government could do would be to let it run its course and then make judgements about it at the end of the process. Instead we’ve got people from the Liberal Party, from the Prime Minister down, breathlessly commenting on everything that’s said in the Commission. We’ve said all along that we’re not going to get into the daily running commentary about it. Of course there are issues that will arise out of it. If there’s any wrongdoing that gets discovered, that wrongdoing should be punished. But let’s see how the Royal Commission runs.

GILBERT: In terms though of that principle of group payment for workers, what’s your view on that? Is there a risk there – that’s the way it’s been reported? I’m not au fait with the way the union collective bargaining happens. But I guess the concern is, and the way it’s been reported is that it would potentially result in lower pay and conditions for workers if you have companies bargaining to pay for all of their workforce.

CHALMERS: I think we should look at all these issues in their totality when this Royal Commission concludes, because there are issues that will be thrown up out of the process and out of the evidence. And if any of those sorts of things that you’re suggesting are true, let’s look at them then.

GILBERT: Alright, let’s look at the housing market. Glenn Stevens says it’s crazy, others are suggesting that – in relation to Joe Hockey’s comments – that he was entirely reasonable in what he said about needing a job that pays well. What’s your take on it? I guess from north of the border, but the Brisbane market’s not that easy to get into either, is it?

CHALMERS: Indeed. But what a contrast, Kieran, between the carefully considered comments made by the Reserve Bank Governor – someone who thinks deeply about these issues, and then you’ve got this sort of blundering, fumbling, stumbling Treasurer, who is becoming a figure of fun in the community – a figure of ridicule. Over and over again, he puts his foot in his mouth. More and more Australians are coming to the conclusion that this bloke is just hopeless.

He’s not really up to the job of being Treasurer for a range of reasons. One of them is he doesn’t have a clue about what’s happening in Middle Australia and those comments about housing are a key part of people’s assessment of him. I think more and more people in the Liberal Party are coming to the same view that Joe Hockey’s just not up to the job of being Treasurer of this country.

He doesn’t have an understanding of Middle Australia, but he’s also failing his own tests - when it comes to doubling the deficit from one budget to the next, debt, unemployment – all up – all of the tests that he set himself.  So I think Joe Hockey, when you contrast him to the sober and carefully considered comments from Glenn Stevens, you can see just how hopeless a job Joe Hockey has done of being Treasurer.

GILBERT: We’re almost out of time, but just quickly. Scott Morrison says he was just stating a simple fact in terms of being able to accommodate and negotiate a mortgage in Sydney.

CHALMERS: Look I think his comments were just completely out of touch, Kieran. I mean to say to people who are worried about getting a foothold in the housing market, or worried about their kids getting a foothold in the housing market: look, it’s simple just go and get a better paying job - I think that really does diminish people and denigrate people who are trying to do the right thing, who are trying to get into a difficult housing market. As the RBA Governor said, there are some difficult prices in the housing market and Joe Hockey should take that seriously.

GILBERT: Jim Chalmers, appreciate your time. Thank you, we’ll chat with you soon. A quick break on AM Agenda, back in just a moment.