ABC News 24

17 August 2016


SUBJECT/S: Budget savings

CHRIS UHLMANN: Jim Chalmers, welcome.


UHLMANN: Now you went to a lot of trouble to identify Budget savings in the campaign, will you follow through by backing those measures in Parliament?

CHALMERS: I’m pleased you recognise the effort that went into those $130 billion in Budget improvements that Labor took to the election, and yes, the position we take in the Parliament will reflect the position that we took to the people.

UHLMANN: Ok, so let me just go through a few of those. Do you still support the freeze on the indexation of the Medicare surcharge and private health insurance rebate - you’ll back that in Parliament?

CHALMERS: What we’ve said today, Chris, and I think it’s very reasonable for us to say, is that the positions we take to the Parliament will be consistent with our election policies. We haven’t yet seen the legislation that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer were referring to today. We want to see that legislation and we want to go through it. We want to make sure that that legislation reflects the policies that we took to the election and not necessarily some interpretation from the Government of the policies that Labor took to the election.

UHLMANN: But you do agree that that one I just mentioned was one of those things you identified?

CHALMERS: That was one of the things that we identified, of course. There’s a whole list of them in the Fiscal Plan that we released during the election campaign - days out from election day – much earlier than our opponents did the election before. People are free to go through that document and we have said, and we have given the assurance, that we took those decisions very carefully, and what we do in the Parliament will reflect those decisions.

UHLMANN: One of them that’s not clear, that the Government’s claiming, but I’m not sure that is entirely your policy, is do you support the removal of the Clean Energy Supplement for new recipients?

CHALMERS: We made our position on that very clear. We are concerned when it comes to seeing the actual detail of the legislation - that the Government presents something which accurately reflects our position. I think the Australian people will excuse us some scepticism given Morrison and Turnbull have not exactly been squeaky clean or upfront about various measures in the Budget, whether they are Labor’s or their own. So we’ll wait for that moment, but people can be assured that the fiscal policy that we took to the election will be consistent with what we vote for in the Parliament.

UHLMANN: But just again and just for clarity’s sake, that is one of them?

CHALMERS: That’s one of them in our plan, yes.

UHLMANN: So, are you prepared to play a very constructive role with this Government to try and go ahead at least with those measures that you agreed on? We know what you disagreed on during the course of the election campaign – we had eight weeks of it. 

CHALMERS: We did – some people are still getting over that eight week campaign! I think we’ve put our cards on the table when it comes to a constructive approach to repairing the Budget but in a fair way. We’ve said the sorts of things that we’ll come at from the Government. We’ve also identified a whole range of Budget improvements including negative gearing, Capital Gains Tax, our own superannuation measures and measures to crack down on multinational tax evasion. We haven’t just said we’ll be constructive, we have shown that we’re being constructive with those $130 billion in Budget improvements - more effort put in by an Opposition than what has happened in decades.

So, we do come at it in a constructive way. We do believe in fixing the Budget, but in a fair way. We’re not up for smashing Medicare or all these other sorts of things the Government wants to do – we’re absolutely not up for a $50 billion tax cut, which is threatening the AAA credit rating in this country.