Sky News The Morning Shift (2)

25 September 2017




SUBJECT/S: ATM fees; Royal Commission into the banks; Clean Energy Target; marriage equality survey; New Zealand election


LAURA JAYES: Let's go live now to the Shadow Finance Minister, Jim Chalmers. He joins us from Brisbane this morning. Look, Jim Chalmers, this looks a little bit like a collusion. Does this just highlight that there's not enough competition in our banking sector?


JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: I noticed that the Treasurer Scott Morrison was out there this morning giving the banks a big pat on the back for this move. Obviously we like to see these charges taken off ATMs, but they probably shouldn't have been there in the first place. They don't actually represent a fee for service and they disproportionately hurt people on lower balances. So obviously it's a good step, but it's not a substitute, it's not sufficient for really getting to the bottom of some of the other rip-offs and rorts that we've seen in the banking system in the last few years, and the only way to do that is with Labor's plan for a Royal Commission. 


JAYES: Well the thing about the Royal Commission though is it would take quite some time to enact change out of that. Doesn't this kind of move, albeit quite small when it comes to the overall revenue that the big four banks get, doesn't it show that there are moves afoot? Doesn't it show that the banks are under pressure to change their culture?


CHALMERS: The banks are under pressure to change their culture and a lot of that pressure has come from the campaign that the Labor Party has run over recent years, and we're proud of that pressure that we're placing on the banks on behalf of middle Australia, which does deserve a fairer go when it comes to the financial system. But none of the things that are being proposed now, none of the steps that are being taken now or even half-measures that are being proposed by the Government prevent us from properly getting to the bottom of these issues, giving the Australian people the confidence they need in their financial system. We can do all of these things and still have a Royal Commission. That will be the most comprehensive and fundamental way to get to the bottom of these issues and move on together.


JAYES: Okay, the Treasurer has warned - and I should say rejected calls for a Royal Commission once again this morning - but the Treasurer's warned the banks against passing on this cost in another way. Really when you look at the revenue that these $2 bank fees were bringing into the banks, it's quite marginal when you look at their overall profitability. But how will we know if the banks are trying to get this revenue somewhere else? I guess they could hide it in an interest rate increase. Is there any way for us to know?


CHALMERS: There's no way to really properly know. I think that the banks take Scott Morrison about as seriously as the rest of Australia, and that's a problem. Of course the banks have all kinds of different ways that they can recoup these costs. We don't want to see them do that. We want this to be genuine fee relief for the Australian people and we don't want it to be the end of the matter. There are all kinds of other ways, in credit cards, right across the financial system where people deserve a fairer go. The best way to get that is a Royal Commission and, as you say rightly, Scott Morrison day after day runs a protection racket for the banks against the Royal Commission.


JAYES: I don't think I said I said that, but you can verbal me. (Laughs)


CHALMERS: (Laughs) Sorry, you're right, you said that he ruled out a Royal Commission.


JAYES: Jim Chalmers, a few other things just quickly. We just heard Bill Shorten speaking to Kieran Gilbert from Korea. He was talking about the emissions reduction target - 45 per cent by 2030 or 2005 levels. He took a little while to confirm this. Has there been a bit of soul searching within Labor about these quite ambitious emissions reduction targets? Is Labor really feeling this debate where it's shifted, not so much to emissions reductions, but the cost of energy and its reliability.


CHALMERS: No, I don't think so, Laura. We're very confident in our position. The Australian people are on our side when it comes to ambitious targets for renewable energy. Bill was making the very valid point that we need to think about first things first. We've said to the Government that we are prepared to negotiate on a Clean Energy Target. For that to happen, Malcolm Turnbull needs to stand up to his party room and come to the table with us, then we can give investors the certainty that they crave to create new sources of energy and to fix this energy crisis that has developed under Malcolm Turnbull's watch.


JAYES: So is that ironclad then, this promise? Because I know that the politics around this on both sides of this has been commitments, there's been aspirations, I just want to get a sense of what this 45 per cent reduction is? Is it an ironclad guarantee? Do you see it as a tier one election commitment?


CHALMERS: We don't divide our commitments into different tiers like John Howard did with core promises and non-core promises, Laura, but that's our policy as we've announced it. And we're also making the very valid point as Bill did this morning, that first things first, the Clean Energy Target, something that we can agree with the Government because we do need in this country to bring pollution down, we need to bring costs down, and we need to create jobs in the renewable energy sector as well.


JAYES: Ok, what about the same sex marriage debate? We've seen pretty ugly scenes on both sides and a new poll saying more people are looking at actually voting "no". What's going wrong with the "yes" campaign? Are they using the wrong tactics here?


CHALMERS: I think that poll about marriage equality today showed again that we can't be complacent about the outcome. We can't be complacent about the fact that most mainstream Australians believe that it's a no-brainer, that two people who love each other, even if they're the same gender, should be able to get married. But we can't be complacent about that outcome. And more importantly, we cannot reward the divisive tactics of the "no" campaign. We can't reward the tactics of those people who designed this process to fail. We need to get behind marriage equality. We need to fill out and post our ballots as I did yesterday at Daisy Hill shops in my electorate. Fill out the ballot, tick the "yes" box, post it and let's make marriage equality a reality in this country.


JAYES: Just finally, Jim Chalmers, are there any lessons Labor can learn from the New Zealand election campaign? Jacinda Ardern breathed new life into Labour's campaign. They did fall short in the end, but is there perhaps a lesson there in changing leaders seven weeks from an election campaign. Would that work?


CHALMERS: (Laughs) Nice try, Laura. I thought Jacinda Ardern's campaign was inspiring. I was inspired by it. I watch New Zealand politics very closely. I represent a big New Zealand population in my electorate and I thought that Jacinda Ardern did an outstanding job. There's still some time now to work out who will govern New Zealand. Whether or not Jacinda becomes the Prime Minister of New Zealand this time or next time, I think she's got an enormous future in New Zealand politics. She ran a terrific campaign. She raised the issues that people care about on both sides of the ditch and I think she should be congratulated on that.


JAYES: Jim Chalmers, the Shadow Finance Minister, thanks so much for your time.


CHALMERS: Thanks, Laura.