THE HON JIM CHALMERS MP
MEMBER FOR RANKIN
WEDNESDAY, 25 MAY 2022
SUBJECTS: Economy, Australia-China Relations; Budget; Texas School Shooting
DAVID KOCH, HOST: Joining me now, Treasurer Jim Chalmers. Jim, Anthony Albanese addressed the importance of climate change, put it way at the top of the agenda, didn't he? What does the Government need to do to get to these targets?
JIM CHALMERS, TREASURER: Good morning, Kochie. It was a perfect start for the new Government on the world stage, outlining Australia's priorities under Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who showed how comfortable he is already on the world stage. Part of that is showing the world that we are serious about climate change, we're serious about cleaner and cheaper energy. What that means is implementing here at home our Powering Australia Plan, which will get power prices down, will boost investment, and it will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and it will also make us one of the responsible contributors to addressing this challenge around the world.
KOCH: Yep, good to see. Hey, a tricky time for him, though. At the Quad meeting, they're basically saying build an economic alliance and strategic alliance to ward off China, but then China is signalling, hey, it's ready to repair the ties with us and reset relations with us. How are you going to manage that relationship?
CHALMERS: Obviously, it was a complex relationship to manage before Saturday, and it's a complex relationship to manage after Saturday. Our interests are really clear – we want a stable, prosperous, secure region, where the economies of our region are growing and that helps us grow our own economy and create jobs here at home. So our priorities are clear. When it comes to the management of the Chinese relationship, clearly, we want to manage that in a considered and a sober way. We have been concerned for some time, for example, about the imposition of those tariffs on Australian goods, which does harm to our national economy and to our employers and workers here in Australia. So that is – if the Chinese are serious about repairing relations - then that would be a good place to start. But our priorities are really clear – we want this region to be stable and prosperous and secure. That's why the meeting with the Quad was so important, and that's why our policy in relation to the Solomon Islands is so important, because those are our priorities.
KOCH: Yeah, well, you've had your briefings with Treasury. You've only been in the job two minutes and you now know how tricky the next year is going to be. Economists warning that the Government's got to maintain fiscal discipline to keep our AAA credit rating. How are you going to achieve this when you've already announced some big spending programs during the campaign?
CHALMERS: Well, we'll manage the Budget more responsibly than our predecessors. We've already nominated eleven and a half billion dollars in Budget improvements, and that's before we sit down with Treasury and Finance and Katy Gallagher and go through the Budget line by line to work out how we can improve the quality of the Budget. But I want to be upfront with you, Kochie - and with all your viewers – this is a generational debt that we're inheriting from our predecessors – a trillion dollars in debt, in our view nowhere near enough to show for it. So this is a hard task ahead of us, a long task ahead of us. It will take generations to pay that debt down. But our job is to make sure that there's a generational dividend for all of that debt. That's why our responsible investments are in areas like cleaner and cheaper energy, child care and aged care, TAFE training and universities – the sorts of things that will invest in our economy and invest in our people and get an economic dividend, not just a political dividend.
KOCH: Yep. Just before you go, are you as appalled as all of us and just shake your head at this news that we're just getting out of the US of this mass shooting at a primary school basically in Texas? It beggars belief the gun laws over there and more mass shootings than there are days of the week.
CHALMERS: Of course, Kochie. I mean, a great country like the US can't go on like this. This is heart-breaking and horrific news out of Texas, and you think about the families impacted, you think about the communities impacted, by yet another act of mass gun violence. I think every Australian heart goes out to those families of those little kids in that community who are wrestling with the most heart-breaking and horrific news today.
KOCH: Yep. And we reckon we've got problems – it's nothing compared to that. Jim, really appreciate your time. Thank you.
CHALMERS: Thanks, Kochie.