Sky Newsday

02 May 2018




SUBJECT/S: Tim Hammond leaving Parliament


LAURA JAYES: I want to bring in his colleague, or former colleague now, the Shadow Finance Minister, Jim Chalmers, and a mate of Tim Hammond's as well. Jim, was this a shock to you? Are you completely understanding of his position here?


JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: He is a good mate of mine, Laura, as you say. He's a terrific colleague. He is really a stand-out parliamentarian, an extraordinary political talent, and I think he'll be a big loss to our show. I think anybody who's listened to what Tim has said today on radio, and then now as we've seen in that press conference, would understand that he's coming from such a genuine place that it's hard not to try and understand where he's coming from. He's made it very clear that he thought he could make it work and he was unable to make it work and his priority for the best possible reasons is Lindsay and the kids. 


JAYES: Yeah, and he's got three little kids. He's got a six-month-old. Jim, I know that you've got little kids yourself. How hard is it? I mean, you're in Brisbane. You're not coming from the other side of the country, but how hard is it to do this job?


CHALMERS: There are some days where it is very hard and Tim has done a great job trying to give people a window into those kinds of challenges. The travel associated with it; we know there's lots of travel when we put our hand up for it, so we're not complaining and Tim's not complaining. But we're all just trying to do the best we can, really. It's harder from the West Coast, and Tim was right to say that some people can even make it work from the West Coast, but for all the young parents in the Parliament - and there are heaps of us; there were a lot of young parents elected for the first time in the last two intakes on our side, and I think that's the case on the Coalition side as well - we're all just basically trying to do the best we can. Trying to be good contributors to national politics at the same time as, more importantly, we try to be good parents. Sometimes we do that pretty well, sometimes we do that horribly. The point that Tim has made is, on balance, he couldn't do what he wanted to do at home while maintaining that national political position.


JAYES: Jim Chalmers, there's a huge amount of pressure on politicians at times. As Tim laid out there, not only is there travel involved, but it's 21 or 22 weeks a year back to Parliament; you're also expected to be very visible in your community; you're expected to do local media, national media, and be across really issues. Now, I don't have a lot of sympathy for you in terms of needing to be across issues, but there has been a lot of focus on political expenses, family reunions, how taxpayer funds are used in recent times. Has that been to the detriment of how people view you, how people view your job, and the importance of having your family with you at times?


CHALMERS: A couple of things about that, Laura. I think first of all, neither Tim nor myself or anyone who's commented so far on his announcement today is asking anyone for sympathy. I think we go into this knowing that it's difficult on family life, but I do think what Tim's done today, and indeed what Kate Ellis did not so long ago, has given people a bit more of an understanding of the kinds of pressures as we go about trying to be good parliamentarians and good parents at the same time. And on the rest of your question, it's not really about how people perceive us. We hope that they have an understanding and an appreciation that we're trying to do the best thing for our local communities, and that's true I think of most, if not all people, who go into politics. Some of the other issues you raise around family travel and that sort of thing, that is for good reason determined by an independent tribunal. And that's a good thing, to have it out of the hands of the politicians. A lot of people talk to you about balancing family life and political life. In fact, it's probably the thing that gets raised most with me and my community, because I try and take my little kids with me on the weekends to events in the electorate. A lot of people talk to you about it. But nobody has come to me and said "here's a way to make it easy" or "here's a way to make it better". I don't have any good ideas for how we make it better. But it does make us reflect, an announcement like today from Tim - someone with such extraordinary upside to have to make that decision. It should make all of us reflect on whether or not there is a way to make things better for young parents in the Parliament.


JAYES: I also reflect on the fact that Tim's a father. Often we can talk about how difficult it is for women and mothers as politicians, but really difficult to be a father as well. I think it makes a huge statement about, I guess, the modern view of a family, and the modern view of a father. We've finally got there.


CHALMERS: It's very, very tough on young mums in the Parliament. It's extraordinarily tough, and without going into names, a lot of my very close friends and colleagues in the Parliament, the way they've managed to juggle it all at the same time has been inspiring, frankly. I thought one of the things that Tim said about being a dad was really poignant, when he said on his radio interview on 6PR this morning: it's not just that your kids need you, it's that you need your kids too. And that's something I think that people are appreciating when it comes to dads in the Parliament.


JAYES: Absolutely, well said Jim Chalmers, good to talk to you today free of policy and politics in a sense. Good just to talk about a very human issue. Thanks so much for that.


CHALMERS: Thank you, Laura.