Labor’s shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers told the government to ‘bring it on’ ahead of an election battle as he outlined his party’s key policies.
An election battle fought on cost of living and wages would be welcomed, as Labor’s treasury spokesman told the government to “bring it on” and revealed the party’s climate plan was weeks away.
Opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers made the comment on Sunday morning as he was quizzed about his party’s policies around climate change, wages, taxes and raising JobSeeker payments.
He would be “delighted” if the election was fought on cost of living including rising petrol prices and wages going backwards, he said.
“If he (the Prime Minister) wants to have an election on the fact that petrol prices have gone up on average over the last year something like $900 for an average family with an average car, at the same time as real wages have gone backwards $700 over the last year, then we say bring it on,” he told Insiders host David Speers.
But when probed about a 2030 climate target, he said the Labor Party hadn’t reached a “concluded view”.
“We’ll come to a concluded view on that in the coming weeks,” he responded.
The Queensland MP denied the party was arguing among themselves and said it was having “really constructive conversations” about the issue and the plan would “strike the right level of ambition”.
The opposition treasurer refused to confirm whether the party was planning an increase to the JobSeeker payment at the election, but said disadvantage was a massive problem in the economy and society.
“We also need to recognise that poverty and disadvantage is partly about income support payments, they are important but it’s not solely about that,” Mr Chalmers said.
“It’s about housing, it’s about entrenched disadvantage.”
His party had made social housing a priority and they would “weigh up” all the things they wanted to do to ensure they could responsibly commit to their promises, he said.
Another aspect of undermining wages in Australia was the “cancer” of insecure work, Mr Chalmers said.
“The two big issues in the labour market which are driving stagnant wages are the fact that we’ve got two million unemployed at the same as we’ve got skills shortages and we’ve got that cancer of insecure work.”
He also told the program there was an opportunity to make multinational corporations pay their fair share of tax in the country, but refused to be drawn into questions about whether they would raise taxes for Australians.
“Our priority is multinational taxes, we haven’t finalised our full suite of policies,” Mr Chalmers said.
However Assistant Treasurer and Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said those comments “confirmed” the party was considering higher taxes.
“Just when Australian small businesses are fighting for their recovery, Labor and Jim Chalmers want to kick them while they’re down,” Mr Sukkar said in a statement on Sunday after the program was aired.
“Instead of trying to sneak out policies over the Christmas and summer breaks, Labor owes it to Australians to front up and be honest about their plans to tax families and businesses.
“Australians know the Liberal and National parties stand for lower taxes because we want families and businesses to keep more of what they earn.”