JIM CHALMERS MP
MEMBER FOR RANKIN
SUNDAY, 5 SEPTEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: Stuart Robert torpedoes Scott Morrison’s dishonest campaign on national plan and states; Morrison Government a bin fire of inconsistency, incoherence and incompetence; Scott Morrison creating a climate of conflict to distract from failures; JobKeeper waste and mismanagement.
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: It's hard to tell who was more confused during Stuart Robert’s' interview on Insiders this morning - the Minister himself or Australians watching at home.
Stuart Robert has absolutely torpedoed Scott Morrison's divisive, destructive and dishonest campaign on the national plan and the states' role in the national plan.
In one interview, this cabinet Minister has completely torpedoed the destructive and dishonest claims that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have been making about the rigidity of the national plan, threats to claw back support payments, and the JobKeeper debacle as well.
Scott Morrison's entire campaign is now in tatters. Scott Morrison has said that we should open up at 70% and 80% at all costs. Josh Frydenberg has said that states should be punished for not opening up by the withdrawal of support payments. They've said that they've had no choice but to see so many businesses make off with billions of dollars in taxpayer support payments in JobKeeper at the same time as social security recipients are hounded for overpayments. All of these claims made by Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg are in tatters because Stuart Robert has said that they are complete rubbish.
This Morrison Government is a bin fire of inconsistency and incoherence and incompetence. And that's what we saw in the interview today. The Prime Minister's' credibility on the national plan and the states' role in that plan has gone up in smoke.
When we need national leadership, we need the Prime Minister to take responsibility, we need coherence and confidence and consistency, instead Scott Morrison has created a climate of conflict and this been fire of incoherence and inconsistency and incompetence.
We desperately need Australia to open up confidently and safely as soon as it's responsible to do that. But in order to get there we need that national leadership, we need that coherence and consistency.
Scott Morrison's been caught playing politics with a national plan that his own cabinet Ministers can't explain or defend. And that goes to the core of the problem here.
This Prime Minister has created a climate of conflict to distract from his own failures on vaccines and quarantine, which are locking down our communities and smashing our economy.
The Prime Minister, instead of spending all this time playing politics with the national plan, needs to work constructively with the states and with the Australian community more broadly, so that we can open up safely and confidently and responsibly when the time comes. That means getting the vaccinations into people's arms. But it also means ensuring that we've got the tracing and the quarantine systems right. That the hospital system can cope. That vulnerable groups aren't left behind. And that we do have a proper place in the national plan for the vaccination of our kids.
The absence of national leadership has cost Australia dearly in the last couple of years. We don't want to see these politics being played by the Prime Minister, with such damaging and destructive consequences for our communities and our economy.
The Minister today in his rambling, train wreck of an interview, has really belled the cat on what Scott Morrison is doing here. Scott Morrison wants to pretend that we can open up at all costs. He wants to pretend that the national plan is rigid. The Treasurer wants to pretend that support payments have to be withdrawn to support the states. They want to pretend that they've got no choice but to hound social security recipients but to let businesses make off with billions of dollars in JobKeeper payments they didn't need. Stuart Robert has said today that that is all rubbish. We need better from this Government.
When it comes to JobKeeper in particular - when Josh Frydenberg is not prepared to lift a finger to recover JobKeeper payments that businesses didn't need, is it any wonder that so many businesses are giving him the bird?
This is a good idea, to have wage subsidies with the capacity to do so much good in our economy in difficult times, but this a good idea being badly mangled by the incompetence of this Treasurer. If Josh Frydenberg hadn't sprayed around billions of dollars to businesses who didn't need JobKeeper payments there'd be more room now to support workers and small businesses in locked-down communities and around Australia who still need the government's support.
This has been the most wasteful program from the most wasteful Government since Federation. And the tragedy of that is that JobKeeper and wage subsidies is such an important idea, such an important policy, to try and maintain a link between people and their employer. That good idea has been badly mangled by Josh Frydenberg and his incompetence.
What we've seen here is too many businesses make off with billions of dollars of taxpayer money at the same time as too many workers and small businesses have gone without. What we've needed to see is JobKeeper without the rorts. There is still a need in the Australian community but this Government has badly mangled a good idea and that's why we've seen the worst case of waste since Federation from the most wasteful Government in the history of this Commonwealth.