Doorstop - Brisbane (2)

23 August 2016


SUBJECT/S: Superannuation; Budget Savings; New Senate 

JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: We are seeing the bizarre spectacle of a Government lecturing others about consistency while they chop and change their own superannuation policy at the behest of the far-right and their own Liberal Party donors. This is a humiliating display by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer: unable to commit to their own super policy because it’s being re-written by a backbench which neither the Prime Minister nor the Treasurer controls.

This is pathetic, to have the Government lecturing us about consistency when their own house is in such disarray and disrepair. It’s long past due for the Government to take responsibility for the mess they’ve made of the Budget over the last three years.

The people who went to the Sydney Institute to listen to the Finance Minister give a speech had a right to expect substance and accountability and not a nursery rhyme.

In 3,700 words of his speech, not one mention of the fact that the deficit has tripled under the Government’s watch since their 2014 Budget, debt has blown out by over $100 billion and both of those things are jeopardising Australia’s hard-won AAA credit rating.

Labor has shown that we are up for a constructive conversation about Budget repair which is fair. The Government’s slapstick approach to the Budget has shown that they’re not up for that conversation.

What these contributions from the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister show is that they have nothing in the way of economic policy beyond a slogan, a $50 billion gift to multinational corporations and a whole lot of finger pointing at Labor, while their own house is in such disarray.

If they were genuine about working together to repair the Budget, they would have picked up the phone, they would consider some of Labor’s responsible measures to improve the Budget bottom line, and they wouldn’t be proceeding with a $50 billion tax cut which will do more damage to the Budget bottom line than anything else.

The fact that they’ve been unwilling or unable to do any of those things shows that they are not up to the task of repairing the Budget in a fair way, in the interests of all Australians. 

JOURNALIST: If the Government presents a bill that exactly represents the Budget savings that Labor said it would agree to in the election campaign, will you support it?

CHALMERS: We’ve been saying for some time now that the position we will take in the Parliament will reflect the position that we took to the people in the election a short time ago. It’s entirely reasonable for Labor to say that we want to see that legislation before we can commit. We want to go through the legislation in some detail and put it through our usual party processes before we commit.  

The fact that the Government is obsessing about Labor’s approach to these things just shows that they don’t have a plan of their own; that they are using this as a distraction from that $50 billion tax cut and their own failures to manage the Budget under Matthias Cormann and now Malcolm Turnbull. We will come to our position in the usual, responsible way.

JOURNALIST: So everything you said you’d support during the election you still will?

CHALMERS: The position that we take in the Parliament will be entirely consistent with the position and policies we took to the election. We will wait to see if the legislation that is presented to us is an accurate representation of those policies and positions. Unfortunately the Government, particularly Scott Morrison, does have some form when it comes to misrepresenting Labor’s positions. I think Australians will understand that we will take our time to go through the legislation when it’s presented, and people will know our position then.

One final thing: in Canberra today I note there is an induction for new senators. Pauline Hanson is in Canberra today as a new senator because Malcolm Turnbull called a double dissolution election.  That’s why Pauline Hanson publically thanked Malcolm Turnbull for letting her back in the Senate by calling that double dissolution election.

It is another example of the weakness of Malcolm Turnbull: that he is prepared to sell his principals be it to One Nation or to others for his own political advancement. Pauline Hanson is there because of Malcolm Turnbull, that’s why she’s thanked him publically.

JOURNALIST: So what do you say to all those people who voted for Pauline Hanson?

CHALMERS: Well we’ve got a job to in the Labor Party, indeed all of the parties, to win the trust of those who were sufficiently disillusioned to vote for One Nation at the election. That’s a task that we take very seriously; it’s a task that I take very seriously.

But don’t forget that Pauline Hanson is a Senator in Canberra today because Malcolm Turnbull created the conditions for her to return. Her return is a very bad thing for Australia – not just for our reputation – but for the standard of tolerance and inclusion in our community.

I say to Hanson voters here in this community and right around the country: that we know we have a job to do to win your trust. We take that seriously and we are going about that task.