THURSDAY, 11 APRIL 2019
SUBJECT/S: 2019 election
LEIGH SALES: For the duration of the campaign, each major party appoints a spokesperson. This year for the Liberal Party it's Senator Simon Birmingham and for Labor, frontbencher Jim Chalmers. Simon Birmingham, Jim Chalmers, thank you very much for coming in to speak to us on day one.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Good to be with you.
SALES: The Prime Minister today posed a question "who do you trust?" as being key to the election. When you look at the record of both of your parties in Government in the past 12 years, we see a parade of leaders, infighting, broken election promises and a patchy record of achievements. If it's a question of trust, what has either party done to deserve it? Simon Birmingham first.
BIRMINGHAM: We promised we would create one million jobs and we've created more than 1.2 million jobs. We promised we would bring the Budget back to balance and we have got the Budget back to balance and headed into surplus. We promised we would secure Australia's borders and we have secured Australia's borders. I think on the question of trust, Australians can see that when it comes to the things that really matter, making a difference in giving people jobs and opportunity and running a strong economy, our Government has delivered and we've got the plans to keep delivering with the tax cuts we've promised for the future, already legislated many of them. The stronger environment for small business we're creating, all of which will sustain continued jobs growth and that of course is what underpins the services that people rely upon and the opportunities for Australian families.
SALES: Jim Chalmers, why should people trust Labor if they think back to your record in Government?
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: We have spent the last six years in Opposition very wisely, Leigh. We've spent that time listening, uniting, leading on policy, coming up with a very good policy agenda for the future of the country, whether it be on energy prices, climate change, wage stagnation, right across the board. We've got a steady and stable and united and experienced team, which is ready for the election campaign but also more importantly ready for Government should the election go our way. What happened over the last six years is the Australian people trusted the Liberals with Government and all the Liberals supplied them with instead was six years of cuts and chaos and division and dysfunction. If Simon wants to talk about the economic record, in the last Budget which was only handed down nine days ago, we had growth downgraded, wages downgraded and consumption downgraded. And debt has doubled over the six years of the life of this Government. So the economic record isn't flash either.
SALES: Let me put that to Simon Birmingham for a response.
BIRMINGHAM: Leigh, firstly let's just note that Jim completely ignored your question about Labor's record in Government. What we inherited was a Budget with a $47 billion deficit. Jim Chalmers was Wayne Swan's chief of staff when they promised a surplus. They promised it hundreds of times - 500 plus times. Wayne Swan, scripted by Jim Chalmers, went out and promised there would be a Budget surplus. Instead what we inherited in 2013 was a $47 billion deficit. We've worked through the six years to repair that and to get us to the point of now having a $7 billion surplus next year. That's a big, big turnaround. We've done it by having a strong economy, by growing the economy in a way that's created jobs. Not just 1.2 million jobs itself, but also where those jobs go is what counts. Last year more than 100,000 jobs for young Australians, the largest number ever created. The level of women's workforce participation, at an all-time record. This is what is making a difference in Australian households right across this great country of ours. More people have got more job opportunities.
SALES: Alright, let me bring it to Jim Chalmers. You're welcome to respond to that, but I also want to ask in a policy sense, what do you think the choice in this election boils down to?
CHALMERS: Thanks, Leigh. If the economy and the performance of the Government was so hunky dory, why have they cycled through three Prime Ministers and three Treasurers over the last almost six years? I think that's the question a lot of Australians are asking. A lot of Australians understand the economy is not delivering for ordinary working people. Everything's going up except for their wages. People's living standards are stagnant. When people like Simon, or whether it's Scott Morrison or Josh Frydenberg or others, want to give themselves a big pat on the back for the economy, I think the Australian people rightly ask what planet are these guys from? The policy choices in this election are very stark and the choice boils down to this - whether or not the Australian people want proper investment in their hospitals and schools and TAFEs and unis, or whether they want more of the same cuts and chaos. Cuts to hospitals and schools, all of the chaos and division and dysfunction that they've seen under three Prime Ministers and three Treasurers over the last six years under the Liberal Party.
SALES: Gentlemen, you have two of the toughest jobs in the campaign to be spokespeople for your parties and have to be across all the detail of every issue. We're out of time tonight, but no doubt we'll talk to you again during the campaign. Thank you very much.
CHALMERS: Thank you.
BIRMINGHAM: Thank you, Leigh.