ABC 774 Melbourne 11/4/19

April 11, 2019



SUBJECT/S: 2019 election; Liberals’ cuts and chaos; Government appointments 

JON FAINE: As I mentioned just before, we have invited each of the major parties that are able to form Government - the Liberal Party and the Labor Party - to nominate their champions for us this morning. And indeed the Liberal Party are, well I hope, still organising themselves, which is somewhat astonishing. I've personally spoken to, I don't know, half a dozen I think, or texted half a dozen people in the Liberal Party this morning. Josh Frydenberg, the Treasurer; Alan Tudge, senior minister; Greg Hunt, Minister for Health; Tim Wilson, Member for Goldstein; Darren Chester, Coalition but not Liberal but National Party.  

I think that's all, let me check my phone. We've been desperately trying to make sure that at least one - oh, Sarah Henderson from Corangamite - that at least someone would be onboard from the Liberal Party point of view. My phone just rang a moment ago, it said "No Caller ID" so I'm on air, I don't know why they're ringing my phone. They should be talking to my producers. The Liberal Party do know how the media works. But in their absence, we were hoping to start with them, Jim Chalmers is the Shadow Minister for Finance from the Labor Party. He's the Labor Party's official campaign spokesperson. Mr Chalmers, good morning to you. 


FAINE: What are the issues as you see them in this particular election campaign? What will your priorities, your party's priorities be? 

CHALMERS: The election's a big chance for Australians to put an end to the cuts and chaos that we've seen from the Liberals the past six years. It's an opportunity to put in place a Labor Government which will always prioritise middle Australia over the top end of town. And I think the last few days have really summed up the Liberals' approach. They're not talking about their own policy. They're not talking about the future of the country. They're not talking about a plan for renewable energy or wages, which have been stagnant over recent years. They're always banging on about scare campaigns and the like. So it's a big chance. Australians - Victorians - they do have an opportunity here and they can choose a fair go for Australia or they can choose the same division and dysfunction of the past six years. 

FAINE: So much of what you just said is code for old fashioned class warfare, isn't it? Resentment of people who have prospered and done well, whilst trying to stir discontent amongst people and blame the well-off for the situation in life of those who aren't as well-off. 

CHALMERS: Absolutely not, Jon. I completely, absolutely reject that. 

FAINE: Well that's what you've just said. It's basically just a more polite way of saying the same thing. 

CHALMERS: Well, I'm a pretty polite fella, Jon. (Laughs) 

FAINE: (Laughs) 

CHALMERS: The point that I'm making is that governing is about choices. If you look at the last six years of cuts and chaos, money being taken out of schools and hospitals, a big attempt made by the Liberals to give an $85 billion tax cut to big business and the big banks, and you consider that in contrast to what Labor's proposing, which is to properly invest in hospitals and schools, and to try to get stagnant wages moving again - that's just an indication of the competing and contrasting priorities which are at play in this election. It's not class warfare to point that out.  

The country is not awash with money. The Budget is tight because debt has doubled over the last six years, and so you've got to pick what your priorities are and where you think you can do the most good. The Liberals have made their views clear - tax cuts for the top end of town. Labor's got a different approach. We want to get the economy working for ordinary working people. 

FAINE: Alright, isn't it solid gold hypocrisy for the Labor Party to complain about the Coalition appointing some of their own former colleagues or friends and supporters when in office, the Labor Party did exactly the same thing? 

CHALMERS: I think the extent to which the last week or so, or last week-and-a-half, of appointments of mates to boards, I think a lot of Australians are asking questions about that in the lead up to the election. The point that we've made is that in many cases these appointments aren't due until after the election. When it comes to quite senior appointments, like the Future Fund and others, we think it would have been appropriate for the Government to consult with the Opposition, given these appointments are long-term appointments –  

FAINE: Kevin Rudd didn't consult with the Opposition before trying to appoint  
Steve Bracks to a plum position - former Victorian Labor Premier - to a plum position in New York, which was reversed by an incoming Tony Abbott. Labor Party did exactly the same thing. 

CHALMERS: A couple of the bigger appointments made in the last little while - the Governor-General, for example; the Chairman of the Future Fund - those are big substantial appointments. We think that would have been appropriate. But these are not the main issues at play in the election. I think the main issues at play in the election are whether or not Australians want to reward the last six years, which have been chaotic and shambolic. You gave us a bit of a sense of that, talking about this morning, which seems to sum up the Government in lots of ways. It has been a shambles. And when you move around Victoria, when you move around Australia, you do get a sense from people that they are crying out for stability. And what Labor is offering people is a steady and stable and united and experienced team, which is ready for the election obviously, but also ready to govern in the event that the election goes our way. 

FAINE: Thank you for your time this morning. We'll mark that down as five minutes for the Labor Party and an empty chair this morning for the Liberal Party.