JIM CHALMERS MP
MEMBER FOR RANKIN
WEDNESDAY, 18 MAY 2022
SUBJECTS: Costings; Scott Morrison’s desperate distractions from cost of living crisis, a trillion dollars of debt, and what economists except to be the biggest cut to real wages in 20 years later today; Petrol prices; 96% of families benefit from Labor’s Cheaper Child Care Plan.
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Jim Chalmers is in Brissy. Jim, good morning to you. Thought you had it in the bag?
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: No, no, no, never thought that. This was always going to be incredibly tight, we've always expected that. We take absolutely no votes or no outcomes for granted.
ALLISON LANGDON, HOST: So this last week is so important, and then we saw yesterday, your leader, well just take a look actually.
(PRESS CONFERENCE CLIP)
LANGDON: So Jim, I mean, you've got the race tightening at the moment, too close to call, and then you see that yesterday. Can he not handle the heat?
CHALMERS: Of course he can. In that press conference alone, I think he took 18 or 20 questions. He'd already taken questions after a speech earlier. He'd done a heap of radio interviews. I did a press conference for almost 20 minutes on the same day and took all the questions as well. Penny Wong did a press conference. I mean, it's just absurd.
The Government wants you focused on the minutiae of press conferences and all the rest of it, so that Australians when they go to vote are distracted from the fact that their real wages are going backwards, and it's harder and harder to feed their kids during this cost of living crisis.
The choice at the election is getting really clear as we head towards election day on Saturday. It's a better future under Anthony and Labor, or it's three more years of the same waste and rorts and ordinary working families going backwards. The Government wants you focused on the timing of costings or press conferences and all the rest of it, in a desperate last minute attempt to distract people from what really matters.
STEFANOVIC: Jim, I'm not sure that the journalists are doing the Prime Minister's bidding in asking questions of the man who wants to be Prime Minster.
CHALMERS: I'm not suggesting that, Karl. No, I'm not suggesting that, Karl.
STEFANOVIC: How is he going to cope with being Prime Minister and all that pressure if he can't deal with this?
CHALMERS: To be clear Karl, I'm not suggesting that for one second. Anthony took, I think 18 or 20 questions, depending on how you count them. He'd already taken questions earlier in the day. We make ourselves available all the time. What I am saying, is that there are more important issues than that - a cost of living crisis, real wages going backwards, a trillion dollars of debt in the Budget with not enough to show for it. These are the things I think that people are focused on.
CHALMERS: It's not about whether Labor releases its costings on a Tuesday or Thursday, it's about whether people can feed their kids during this cost of living crisis on Scott Morrison's watch.
LANGDON: I think it's a very fair question of journalists to ask, you've made all these promises, how are you going to pay for them?
CHALMERS: And we'll release our costings in the usual way at the usual time, Ally. For all of this confected outrage from the Government about the timing of our costings, we're releasing our costings on the same day that they traditionally do, that they did last election and the last two times that they were in Opposition. It's just confected outrage, it's the usual political rubbish from the Government, because they don't want people focussed on what really matters, which is a decade now of attacking wages and undermining job security in ways that mean people are falling further and further behind.
There's a new number out today which is about wages, and what it will show - if it comes out as the economists expect - what it will show is that we're about to see the biggest real wages cut in more than 20 years, and the Government doesn't want you focused on that they want you focused on press conferences.
STEFANOVIC: Okay. Let's finish with two quick words. If you become Treasurer in three days’ time, will you extend the temporary hold on excise duty on fuel, because fuel just keeps on going up?
CHALMERS: Yeah it’s back on the way up again. Of course, it's been bouncing around, there was some relatively substantial relief for a little while there. But it's back up - nationally, I think $1.93 on average, today $1.91 in Brisbane - so it is heading back up and that makes life harder for people. It will be hard to extend that temporary relief at the bowser, we've been pretty upfront about that. It runs out in September, obviously we'd play the cards we're dealt with at the time, but it will be difficult to find the billions of dollars that it would cost to extend that forever.
LANGDON: Alright, just one last one. New research showing high-earning professionals are going to be the ones who benefit the most from your cuts to child care costs. That's not very Labor, is it?
CHALMERS: First of all 96% of Australians from memory will benefit from our child care policy. If the accusation is that it goes right up and down the income scale, well then that's accurate and that's deliberate. Because what we want to do is we want to treat child care support not as social security but as a crucial economic reform, to get people working more and earning more if they want to do that. We've got a labour shortage and a skills shortage in this economy, which has been left unattended. If we want people to work more and earn more, then we need to make it easier for people to do that. That's a key economic reform. It's not welfare, it's an important way to satisfy a really key economic objective.
STEFANOVIC: Alright, fly well Jim. Good to have you on, appreciate it.
LANGDON: Thanks, Jim.