Photo: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Jim Chalmers has stated that it is “absurd” to think that the 2023 Albanian government will be a photocopy of the Hawke and Keating governments in the wake of an ongoing backlash against his new essay championing value-based capitalism.
The treasurer says the overwhelmingly negative response to his summer think piece, published by the Monthly last month, is out of step with sentiment in the investor community and also reveals a disconnect between some opinion leaders in Australia and advanced economic policy analysis abroad .
Chalmers used a speech to a Labor-affiliated think tank on Sunday to outline his policy agenda for the opening of the new parliamentary year, confirming he would release a tax expenditure statement later in the month, an assessment from the Reserve Bank of Australia in March, and an intergenerational report and well-being framework later in the year.
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With parliament entering its first session after the summer recess on Monday, Chalmers said he was taking “significant steps” on sustainable finance, a “new focus” for the Productivity Committee, work on regulating crypto and payments, while holding a pursued a housing deal with the housing minister, Julie Collins.
He said that high inflation would be the government’s main economic focus, and that his priorities in May’s budget would be to ease the cost of living, grow the economy in a more inclusive and sustainable way, and balance the budget. restore to allow for more generous social services. policy spending, including for Medicare and aged care.
Chalmers also addressed the ongoing controversy surrounding the summer essay. The treasurer indicated in the 6,000-word piece that he wanted to increase the opportunity for “impact investing” while continuing with regulatory reforms, including a “new taxonomy” to help investors “align their choices” with the government’s more ambitious emission reduction targets.
On Sunday, Chalmers largely characterized the backlash in the op-ed pages of national newspapers as “hyperventilation from the usual suspects – some with such intensity that it seemed they would spontaneously combust” – though he joked that the attention was probably better than “being ignored” . .
Speaking at a Q&A session on Sunday at the Chifley Research Center conference, the treasurer said “there’s a contrast between some of that coverage and what you pick up in investor circles”.
“People fall into habits. I think people make a habit of what their views are, and some habits were formed some time ago. That’s not the case in the investor community and the international community, so I think there’s a bit of a gap there.”
Some critiques have portrayed Chalmers’ support for value-based capitalism as a departure from Labour’s policy approach in the 1980s and 1990s. But the treasurer said the Albanian government would not be a facsimile of past Labor governments, as the current government had to rise to face today’s challenges rather than emulate the shibboleths of the past.
“My take on the changes of the last 40 years is that there is a lot to recommend, especially in the Australian context, especially when it comes to the legacy of Hawke-Keating,” Chalmers said on Sunday.
“But our job now is to find our own way in the 2020s, in this defining decade.” He said that “the same things that worked for Paul in 1983 won’t be the same things I’m aiming for in 2023”.
Chalmers said people expecting him to be a copy of Keating as treasurer was “as absurd as someone saying to Paul when he first went to the Treasury 40 years ago and saying that what we need to do is photocopy of Ben Chifley’s administration as treasurer 40 years earlier.
“You can believe in markets, you can believe as I do in the important role of the private sector…but what we need to do is figure out much better how to better design, define and inform our markets so that we can get the right economic outcomes but ideally also results that are in line with our values and our society.”