MEMBER FOR RANKIN
MONDAY, 23 MAY 2022
SUBJECTS: 2022 Election, Swearing in of the Albanese Labor Ministry, Wages, Labor’s Economic Plan
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: The Treasurer or the incoming Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, joins us now from Canberra. Good morning to you, Jim. Congratulations on the victory.
JIM CHALMERS, TREASURER ELECT: Very kind of your Karl, thanks very much.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, so what happens this morning? Are you off to see the Governor General?
CHALMERS: Yeah we're off to see the GG. We will get sworn in very shortly actually around nine o'clock - Anthony Albanese, myself, Penny Wong, Katy Gallagher and Richard Marles, and then we get to work.
ALLISON LANGDON, HOST: It looks like you might get the majority you were hoping for. There's going to be a lot on your plate.
CHALMERS: For sure. It's not locked in yet that we’ll have a majority but we are very hopeful. There's a handful of seats that we are pretty confident in, that we can get to maybe 76 seats. We hope that's the case, of course. You're right Ally, we would inherit a lot of challenges particularly I think in the economy. We've got cost of living going through the roof, we got real wages going backwards, we'll be inheriting a trillion dollars of debt, with not enough to show for it. So the work has begun already. In my portfolio, I've already been briefed by the Treasury secretary at home in Logan yesterday and there'll be more of that today. Anthony and Penny will be off to consult with some of our most important friends in the region, at the Quad meeting that they will be leaving for later today as well. So we want to hit the ground running, and that's what we've done.
STEFANOVIC: It does look like it's a very different election result in that there is no time for partying, everyone is getting on with it. There is huge obstacles that you're facing. As you mentioned, the record inflation and the cost of living. Things probably will get worse before they get better, right?
CHALMERS: That's certainly the expectation. This economy was on a trajectory already of inflation that will get worse before it gets better. It's already higher, but it will rise further. There will be a number of interest rate rises that were already locked in before the Government changed hands. So that will make life harder for people. They’re also getting punished at the petrol pump at the moment with petrol prices going back up again. At the same time, our choices are constrained a bit by the fact that we've got this Budget, which does have a trillion dollars in debt in it and nowhere near enough to show for it. So there are a big set of challenges. I think you're right, there's not quite, at least in my part of the world, not really kind of a celebratory mood. It's more about getting to work as soon as we can. Today is an exciting milestone and it's an important opportunity, which I welcome. But there's no shortage of challenges in the economy, that's for sure.
LANGDON: One of the promises that Labor made during the campaign was a wage increase. Will you still push for that given it will, or potentially, only add to inflation?
CHALMERS: We absolutely support a minimum wage increase that keeps up with the cost of living. We shouldn't see people on the lowest incomes in this country - many of them the heroes of the pandemic - we don't want to see them fall further and further behind. So we absolutely support an outcome at the Fair Work Commission, which recognises that inflation is going through the roof and people need to catch up with that and keep up with that. The issue about inflation and wages, the most important thing here in the economic jargon is what happens to productivity. We want to get real wages moving again by making the economy more productive and growing it the right way. That's why our investments in skills and training, cleaner and cheaper energy, cheaper childcare, advanced manufacturing, a future made in Australia - all of these key planks of our economic policy are going to be really important. So I'll be spending some time between now and the October Budget making sure that we can implement those commitments in the most responsible way, to get the biggest bang for buck in terms of the economic dividend that we can.
LANGDON: The teal independents, and well done to them. They certainly have shown that they are a force. They now hold seven seats in parliament. They claim Labor's 2030 carbon reduction target of 43 per cent does not cut it, and will need to go further. They're even reaching for, I think, 50 per cent. How are you going to do that while keeping power prices down?
CHALMERS: Our policy is a responsible policy supported by the business community and broadly around Australia because it will get power prices down. We are actually at the moment about to see a really big spike in power prices that was already in train before the election. What our policy will do, by getting cleaner and cheaper energy into the system, will bring power bills down, but also boost investment in the economy create hundreds of thousands of jobs, particularly in the regions. So we're very proud of our climate change policy and our policy for cleaner and cheaper -
LANGDON: Is that a ‘no’ to the to the 50 per cent by 2030?
CHALMERS: That's right, Karl, we've got our own policy on climate change. We said that we intend to implement it. We will work with anyone who wants to see cleaner and cheaper energy into the system but we've got a policy that we intend to implement.
LANGDON: Okay, the fuel excise. Any chance you'll extend it beyond the six months?
CHALMERS: We’ll have a look at the conditions at the time when it comes off in September, but we've been really upfront before the election and after the election in saying to the Australian people that it's not possible to continue some of this costs of living relief forever. That's just being responsible. It's just common sense in the Budget. But clearly when this relief comes off in September, we'll have a Budget not long after that and if there's more that we can do to ease the cost of living pressures on people, we will do that. But we've already got policies on childcare, cheaper medicines, cheaper power bills, getting real wages moving again, all of this together, will provide some of that longer term sustainable cost of living relief that people desperately need, at a time when inflation is absolutely going through the roof.
STEFANOVIC: I know that you didn't have huge amounts of time to celebrate but again, congratulations are in order. I thought you had a really good campaign personally. How does it feel personally, to soon be the Treasurer?
CHALMERS: I'm excited about it, Karl, and thanks for your kind words. I'm excited about the opportunity. I feel a sense of responsibility. I also feel a sense of pride, particularly for my local community. It means something, I hope to the people of Logan City and the southern suburbs of Brisbane that you know so well, Karl, that will have a Treasurer from there. I think it means something to the country that we’ll have a kid that grew up in housing commission, to be the Prime Minister of Australia. We celebrate that not because we want it to be unique, to have a kid from a council flat and a kid from Logan in these roles. We celebrate it because we want it to be common. We want it to say something about this country that any kid growing up in any part of Australia can do whatever job that they're capable of doing. That's what I think Anthony's election really shows more than anything else. And I'll be really proud to be sworn in alongside him today.
STEFANOVIC: You've come a long way from the Logan Hyperdome.
CHALMERS: From the KFC in the food court.
STEFANOVIC: The best! Thanks, Jim.