Domestic Violence - Interview on Sky

24 September 2015


SUBJECT/S: Domestic Violence; Treasurer Morrison; Tax Reform

KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda. With me now, Parliamentary Secretary to the Opposition Leader, Jim Chalmers. Jim, thanks for your time this morning. We’re standing by to go live to a news conference with the Prime Minister to detail his first major announcement as PM – a $100 million initiative, a response to the scourge of domestic violence. You’d welcome that – those additional funds and this focus from the new PM?

JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Absolutely, Kieran. We welcome any action on domestic violence. It’s a national tragedy that sixty women have died in our country as a result of domestic violence. We’ve got our own package of course – a $70 million package that Bill Shorten announced in March focussing on access to key services when domestic violence sufferers need them the most. So, yes – it’s important we come together as a country to tackle this problem. The next thing we need to do is to get together all of these people of goodwill – the academics, the community groups, the state and federal governments – get them all together for a national summit to work out how we coordinate our efforts so that all the good work that’s going on around the country can all be headed in the same direction.

GILBERT: It’s hard to fathom isn’t it? When we see almost on a daily basis acts of domestic violence, people – women and children – losing their lives, it’s horrific. I guess the comparison that’s often made, Jim, is that the tens and tens of billions of dollars that we spend on security and those sorts of things, whereas in people’s own homes, that is where the violence is being perpetrated, where dozens of women and children have lost their lives this year.

CHALMERS: Yeah, that’s the heartbreaking thing about it Kieran. I think you’ve summed that up perfectly. I have a lot of conversations with my local police, my local community groups. I’ve also got the Queensland Minister in my electorate – Shannon Fentiman – who is doing a lot of good work here. And some of the stories that you hear just break your heart – especially, I’ve got two big sisters, people’s mums, people’s daughters who are subjected to this kind of violence. Sixty people are sixty too many, but all of the unreported cases as well. So anything that we can do together as a nation – every corner of the nation – should be working out what we can do to help address this problem.

GILBERT: Let’s turn our attention now to the debate about tax. I know it’s something that you watch very closely. The comments of the new Treasurer, Scott Morrison, says he’s going to be focused on getting the economic message – the economic narrative – and reform plan right, domestically. He’s going to leave the various international commitments – G20 gatherings and so on – to his Finance Minister to handle. Does this make sense, given he’s a new Treasurer with less than twelve months – likely – before the next election?

CHALMERS: Look, the Treasurer’s job is a very difficult job. I think Scott Morrison is about to find out how difficult it is. When he was running down Joe Hockey around the country, I think he thought it would be easy. It’s probably dawning on him now what a mountain of work Treasurers have to get through in that position. I saw him give an interview on another station last night and I thought he really struggled initially. But you judge Treasurers on their performance and not on their words. So, we’ll wait and see what Scott Morrison can do when he gets beyond the sort of sloganeering he got into at the press conference earlier in the week.

GILBERT: Let’s look at some of the issues, though. Like for example, the principle that he’s articulating that he needs to explain to the Australian people what the end game is on tax reform – that it’s not just about discussion of one tax here, or the marginal tax rates there, it’s got to be a holistic discussion. He wants to start by explaining to the electorate exactly what the outcome the Government is hoping to achieve. Politically, that makes sense.

CHALMERS: I don’t think he’s worked out yet – and nor has Malcolm Turnbull – the Government’s place in this big tax reform conversation that’s going on around the country at the moment. I mean, we had this weird spectacle yesterday – this stop-go tax options paper. They can’t quite work out if they’re going to release one or when they’re going to release it if they do, which comes as a big disappointment to a lot of people, not just in the Treasury, but in the business community and the community sector who have put a lot of work into that tax discussion process that Joe Hockey started.

But you’re right, I pay a lot of attention to this debate. Tax has been a regular feature of the political debate in this country for as long as I’ve been involved in politics. On our side, what we’re trying to do via Chris Bowen, Andrew Leigh and all the colleagues – Bill Shorten – is to pay a really constructive role in the tax debate in this country. That’s why we’ve got two very detailed proposals out there when it comes to tax reform in superannuation and also in multinational tax. So we’re doing our bit to play a constructive role. The Government should do likewise because a lot of people around the country understand that we can make our tax system better and align it better with our economic priorities.

GILBERT: And I guess if you’re looking at this situation, Jim Chalmers, in the prospect of lower marginal tax rates, big compensation for those on low incomes and if the Government’s looking again at superannuation, which it says it is – that’s on the table as part of this White Paper. It had been ruled out – the superannuation tax breaks – by the former PM. That’s back on the table. You’d welcome that. But I guess, isn’t it important then for Labor in that constructive spirit to say alright, let’s look at everything including the consumption tax, if you’re going to talk about lower marginal tax rates – compensation at the lower income level. Doesn’t it make sense to say that everything should be there – including the consumption tax?

CHALMERS: I think it’s possible to be a constructive participant and not necessarily agree with every single proposal that’s put up.