SKY News AM Agenda (10)

22 January 2015


SUBJECT/S: Queensland Election; Tony Abbott hiding from Queenslanders; Abbott Government disunity; Abbott Government’s $100,000 degrees; Abbott Government’s unfair attacks on Medicare

KIERAN GILBERT: Let’s go to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Opposition Leader now Jim Chalmers. Jim Chalmers let’s touch on a couple of those issues, I guess we’ll start first of all on something that we referred to earlier and that is on the Queensland election.  Now Campbell Newman says he’s running an independent campaign, what are your thoughts on that? Isn’t fair enough for a Premier to do that?

JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Look I’ve spoken to hundreds of voters in my area the last couple of weeks; the Prime Minister is absolutely toxic in Queensland. If he had any positive contribution to make Campbell Newman would have him here in a heartbeat. The problem is, for Campbell Newman and for Tony Abbott, is that their policy agendas are just so indistinguishable, they are effectively one and the same.

They’ve got the same indifference to unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, the same broken promises, the same swaggering arrogance, the same cuts to frontline services.  And so the people in my community and right around Queensland see them as one and the same and Tony Abbott can curl up somewhere with the doona pulled up over his head all he likes. People are looking forward to sending a message to Tony Abbott in this state election campaign.

GILBERT: The ReachTel poll has the Coalition in front though, Campbell Newman, despite some concern about him and his own popularity, the LNP looks like at this stage according to the ReachTel poll at least that they’re going to get across the line regardless of the way you’ve characterised the Premier today.

CHALMERS: Well you have to remember Kieran that Queensland Labor has nine seats in an 89 member Parliament. They are 36 seats short of a majority in their own right.  So it’s a huge mountain to climb and Annastacia Palaszczuk has done a tremendous job making the case for a better way for Queensland but she starts so far behind that it’s really a big, big ask for Labor in Queensland.

Annastacia’s doing a fantastic job, all of the federal colleagues, all the state colleagues are making the case. But when you see the polls like the one today you do need to remember that we do start a long, long, long way back. We had seven seats at the last election and now nine. The Coalition, the LNP in Queensland has 73 seats so we’re a long way back but we’re making a really good fist of it.

GILBERT: In terms of the Government’s approach here, couple of weeks out from the return of parliament, there’s been, well basically, they’re starting the year in an attempt to compromise in a couple of difficult policy areas, on the Medicare reform and on higher education. They might have had some difficulties at the end of last year but they’re clearly hoping to bring those two sectors with them.

CHALMERS: Look I couldn’t keep a straight face when I heard Kelly [O’Dwyer] say before that the Government was “united”. That would be news to all of her colleagues who are in the paper saying that the government is in a state of anarchy, that the Prime Minister’s toxic and most importantly that the plan that they had, the so-called plan, is now a smoking ruin.

The Coalition can agree in Canberra that they want to attack Medicare, they want to dismantle bulk-billing but they’re at war about how to do it. They can agree that they want to reserve higher education for the kids from the wealthiest families in our community but they’re at war over how to do it. I mean, Joe Hockey and Chris Pyne in a 24 hour stretch had two opposite positions on whether they were prepared to compromise on the higher education package.

We’ve got a very clear view on both. We will defend Medicare and we are not for saddling our kids with $100,000 debt sentences. The Government is at war, they can agree they want to do nasty things to the health system and to the higher education system but they’re at war on over how to do it.

GILBERT: Jim Chalmers appreciate your time this morning, thank you.

CHALMERS: Thanks Kieran.