JIM CHALMERS MP
MEMBER FOR RANKIN
TUESDAY, 17 MAY 2022
SUBJECTS: Costings; Coalition rorts and waste; Scott Morrison’s desperate distractions from cost of living crisis and trillion dollars of debt; New numbers expected to show real wages falling again; Scott Morrison likens himself to a bulldozer; Anthony Albanese’s leadership style.
SARAH HARRIS, HOST: The man who could become our nation's 41st federal Treasurer has all the answers and joins us now from his electorate in Brisbane, Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers. Thank you so much for joining us.
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: Thanks for having me on the show.
HARRIS: Are you gonna make us go all Jerry Maguire on you? Show us the costings, when are we going to see em?
CHALMERS: You'll see them on Thursday, which is consistent with the practice that the Coalition established. At the last election they released theirs on Thursday, the last two times they were in Opposition they released it on Thursday. That's the usual way to do it, and the usual time to do it, so that's when we'll do it. What people will see when they see our costings is that our responsible investments in areas like aged care, and child care, and skills and training, and cleaner and cheaper energy, will cost a fraction of what the Coalition has wasted and rorted. The whole reason why the Morrison Government wants to bang on about this this week, is that they're hoping it will distract people from the fact that there's a trillion dollars of debt in their own Budget, they've got a full-blown cost of living crisis, real wages are going backwards, their housing policy has collapsed in a heap all around them. So true to form they're desperately banging on about Labor. We'll release our costings in the usual way at the usual time, and our Budget will be much more responsible than the Government, which has been the most wasteful government since Federation.
TRISTAN MACMANUS, HOST: Mr Chalmers, Labor and the Coalition are split on housing. But in 2020 four and half million Aussies took nearly $40 billion out of super in the pandemic-related early release game. Labor supported the package that plan was a part of, and as a result many people were able to afford a deposit for a home. So why is there opposition now to the Coalition's Housing Super Plan?
CHALMERS: We weren't supportive of early release in the sense that we were incredibly worried that it would damage people's retirement incomes, and that's what this housing policy that the Government released six days before the election will do as well. Their policy will bulldoze people's super and it will push up house prices, and if they thought it was a good idea they would have done it at some point over the last decade and not just desperately as a kind of a last minute heave six days out from the election. There have been Liberals and Labor people - people right across the political spectrum, economists and others - who have said that this is a really dumb idea. Labor's got a way to help people into a home, into homeownership, without bulldozing your super. People shouldn't have to choose, but the Government's making them choose, and that is the most divisive way to go about dealing with this big substantial problem.
MACMANUS: What makes Anthony Albanese leader material?
CHALMERS: Anthony Albanese is the type of leader who shows up, and he takes responsibility, and he works hard every day to bring people together. I think the other thing we saw during the election - which is an underrated aspect of leadership - is that he's built a good team, he empowers us, and he trusts us to do our job. These are the sorts of leadership qualities that we desperately need after almost a decade of Scott Morrison-style division in our politics. I feel like Scott Morrison goes missing when we need him most, he always looks to blame other people when things go wrong but he takes all the credit when things go right, and he's always looking to divide us. I think Anthony is the right kind of leader, he's the type of leader who will bring us together again and deliver that better future that people need, and that's what the election is about really. It's a choice between Anthony Albanese and Labor and a better future for all Australians, or it's another three years of the same under Scott Morrison. That choice is becoming really clear as people are early voting in droves or thinking about their choice on Saturday.
HARRIS: Certainly, Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party's support of raising the minimum wage is something that could possibly win a lot of votes. But that's actually not up to the Government or anyone in Opposition, it's the Fair Work Commission who sets the minimum wage. Where are we at with the formal submission to increase minimum wages, is that actually going to happen if you get into power?
CHALMERS: It's entirely normal for governments or alternative governments to express a view about the minimum wage. We don't think it's fair that in this full-blown cost of living crisis the minimum wage workers who did so much to get us through the pandemic cop a real wage cut, so we've said that.
HARRIS: I agree, I agree. But the Fair Work Commission makes that decision independently.
CHALMERS: Yes, but governments and alternative governments express a view. Scott Morrison is expressing a view saying that if minimum wage earners kept up with the cost of living, then that would be too much. So he's expressing a view too. We have a very different view. We're talking about $1 an hour here for the lowest paid workers in Australia who did so much to get us through the pandemic, and this is the big difference. The other thing that your viewers might find interesting to know - and that's why the Government is pretending to create this big division over costings today - is because tomorrow we get a really important number in the economy, which is about wages. What it will show - or what all the economists expect it to show - is that real wages will be going backwards substantially again under this Government. That's one of the reasons why we've got this full-blown cost of living crisis. The Government wants wages to be kept as low as possible, we've got a different view, and that's why we've got a plan to get wages growing again, and the minimum wage is a really important part of that.
HARRIS: Shadow Treasurer, Scott Morrison has admitted to his failings. He confesses he's a bit of a bulldozer. Do you agree?
CHALMERS: Look, I'd probably use other words to describe him.
HARRIS: It's morning television.
CHALMERS: That's right. The big problem with him I think, is when things go well he takes all the credit and when things go badly he takes none of the responsibility. He's got an excuse for everything but a plan for nothing. He's the type of guy if things go bad, he says, well that's not my job. I think Australians are on to him, I think they've worked him out over the long period that the Coalition's been in office. I think one of the reasons why they are so hungry for a better future under Labor and Anthony Albanese is because Scott Morrison has let them down so repeatedly,
HARRIS: You could be our next Treasurer, any failings that we need to know about of yours?
CHALMERS: I do my best every day. I'm here in my local community, which informs the way I'd go about my job as Treasurer if I was fortunate enough to get that opportunity after Saturday. Nobody gets everything right, nobody gets everything wrong. I think what people have learned from the Prime Minister - and where we need to do much better, and where we intend to do much better, and dedicate ourselves to doing much better - is we want to show up every day and take responsibility. Not just for the good things, but for the difficult things as well. I would be inheriting probably the most challenging set of circumstances that any incoming Treasurer has inherited since the war - a trillion dollars in debt, high and rising inflation, interest rates are going up, real wages are falling - so I take that challenge really seriously and I'll do my best to address them.
HARRIS: Alright, it's been a very long campaign. We appreciate your time. Jim Chalmers, thanks so much for joining us.
CHALMERS: Appreciate your time, thank you.
MACMANUS: Thank you, take care.