Jim Chalmers looks to Queensland roots
Chifley has overseen major national projects that have changed Australia, from the mass migration program to the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric project. He also established the Australian National University in Canberra and the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO). The latter was formed to face the arrival of the Cold War in the late 1940s.
For a time, Chifley captured the national mood. In a similar vein, Anthony Albanese reflected national sentiment following the death of Queen Elizabeth on September 8, when the Republican Prime Minister said: “In an age of fashions and fashionable causes, the Queen n ‘did not try to run after his time’ and ‘has attached himself to timeless qualities and virtues’. They were “careful, carefully crafted words”, as Parnell McGuinness commented in The Herald of the Sun.
And Chifley has not been afraid to confront militant union unrest, such as when he called in the army after the Communist-led miners’ union called strikes in the NSW coalfields. However, he stalled when he refused to abolish petrol rationing long after its effective expiry date and introduced legislation to nationalize Australia’s banks. The latter decision was overturned by a High Court decision and formed a significant part of Labor’s 1949 electoral defeat to the Liberal and Country (now National Party) coalition led by Robert Menzies.
More than seven decades later, Labor is back in power and, like Albanese’s reaction to Queen Elizabeth’s death, the words Chalmers uses in his October 25 budget speech will command attention. As well as announcing well-flagged government grants to programs such as aged care, childcare and the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Chalmers will look back on Labor history and culture to explain his decisions. budgets.
Chalmers earned his doctorate in political science writing his dissertation on the economic reform agenda of former Labor Treasurer Paul Keating (1983-1991), titled “Bustling Statesman: Paul Keating and Prime Minister’s Leadership in Australia”. . But the historical origins of his budget speech will go back further in Labor history to the Great Depression, and even before that.
For Chalmers, as a Queenslander, the starting point is Edward (Red Ted) Theodore. Son of Eastern European migrants. Theodore was elected to the Queensland Parliament shortly after Federation as a young, but already veteran, member of the powerful Australian Workers’ Union, which still wields enormous influence in the Queensland ALP.
Following his election as Premier of Queensland after World War I, Theodore set up a number of public companies. He was also responsible for the Labor majority in the state’s upper house, known as the “suicide squad”, which voted to abolish the Queensland Legislative Council in 1922. Until now, Queensland has the Australia’s only unicameral parliament.
But these claimed advances towards socialism also led to his nickname “Red Ted”. Transferred to federal politics, Theodore became treasurer of the Scullin-era Labor government, was forced to resign following a mining stock scandal, but returned to the post in 1931.
Anticipating Keynesian prescriptions to fight economic contraction, he unsuccessfully advocated stimulus policies at the height of the Great Depression. But the Scullin government split and was defeated at the ballot box.
Theodore left federal politics, but less than two years later became Frank Packer’s business partner. Along with Packer he played a key role in the successful 1933 launch of the Australian Women’s Weekly, which was printed on an old AWU printing press. He died in 1950 and is buried in the cemetery near South Head in Sydney.
Like Theodore, Labour’s current treasurer is also a Queenslander and is well versed in and immersed in the history of federal treasurers in Queensland. These include Arthur (“Artie”) Fadden, who was prime minister for a few weeks in 1941 and treasurer for nine years (1949-1958) in the government led by Robert Menzies.
Since then, there has been Bill Hayden, who was treasurer of Labor in 1975, and former leader of the ALP; Wayne Swan, who was treasurer of the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments in 2007-2013; and now Chalmers.
Treasurers training ground
Raised in a struggling family in Brisbane’s Logan district and attending local Catholic schools, Chalmers has held positions as a researcher, adviser, press officer, deputy chief of staff, chief of staff and director of research for a wide range of Labor politicians and think tanks in Queensland, New South Wales and Canberra.
His most prominent roles were in the office of fellow Queenslander Wayne Swan when the latter was Federal Treasurer. This continued a kind of ‘Queensland Treasurers training ground’ routine. Swan himself had worked on former treasurer Bill Hayden’s team.
But the formative period, long and varied as it was, does not guarantee the political success of the Chalmers budget. Even for such a historically highly anticipated document, speculation about this year’s fiscal iteration has been intense.
Much of the attention has been on whether Chalmers will deliver on Labor’s election promise to honor the former Coalition government’s Stage Three tax cuts, which are not expected to come into force before 2024.
It’s such a politically hot potato that even China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, weighed in. He said The Sydney Morning Herald earlier this week that ending the trade dispute with China would help provide the government with enough revenue to fund the contentious tax cuts.
After sending mixed signals, the government finally abandoned any attempt to abandon the cuts. This is largely because of the calculation that such a waiver would bring a politically locked opposition from the coalition back into the electoral calculations.
This realization follows writing by former Labor senator John Black this week in The Australian Financial Review that those who stand to benefit from Stage Three tax cuts “were the same taxpayers who elected Labor to the majority government”.
Groups such as Chinese Australians, doctors and professional women “combined to offer Labor candidates the seats of Hasluck, Pearce, Swan and Tangney in Western Australia, Bennelong, Reid and Robertson in New South Wales, Chisholm and Higgins in Victoria and Boothby in South Australia,” Black wrote.
What gave his comments political force was that modeling by Black’s Australian Development Strategies accurately anticipated the outcome of the May 21 federal election, including the wave of turquoise independent candidates.
Over to you, Jim.