CHRISTOPHER DORE: Jim Chalmers, inflation and Economics 101

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Christopher Dore
The Nightly
6 Min Read
Taxpayers are starting to believe Labor’s economic delusion.
Taxpayers are starting to believe Labor’s economic delusion. Credit: The Nightly

It’s political Stockholm syndrome.

We have been so battered and bruised, robbed and rear-ended by successive outfits in Canberra, so ruined, financially, psychologically and metaphorically that Australians actually paused and thought this week, maybe even remarked out loud: “gee that 300 bucks could come in handy, hey”.

Or as our new best mate Jim Chalmers would say, did say, 25 times the past four days in fact: Yeah, that should “take the sting out” of the household budget. “Take the edge off” the bills.

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Not sure those rich pricks should also get it, what with all their houses and what not, but as Jim says, maybe 15 times since the big Budget reveal in fact, the wealthy bastards are not the focus, you know, we are, the battlers, doing it tough.

Jim and Albo are thinking about us. And right now, we could really do with that extra cash, all $300 of it. So if they have to waste a bit on the wealthy to get it to us quicker, well, why not.

The last $75 instalment will land about this time next year. Couldn’t rush it out much quicker than that. They’re trying to do the right thing. He seems all right, that Jim bloke, for a Queenslander.

And the really good thing is all this money they’re flinging our way — someone said $3.5 billion overall — would bring inflation down.

Before Christmas. Just like that. All this extra cash into the economy will reduce inflation. That checks out, right.

Read that somewhere — if the Government spends more money, like billions, throws it at people struggling a bit — then that will bring down the price of stuff, and inflation goes down, and then interest rates go down, and away we go, back to the good old days. Basic economics.

The more money the Government spends, the more money they give to people like us, to spend, the cheaper stuff is, because, well it just makes sense.

Jim says it, they have the expert economists in the Treasury, the top flight guys, who have done the sums on this, and that’s what they reckon.

Spend more. Give it away. Get those rates down. It’s about supply and demand. Give households more money, tell ‘em to spend it, drive up demand for things, and the prices go down. 101.

And don’t forget the tax cuts, the much needed tax cuts. A couple of grand over the year. Nothing to sneeze at. Yes please. Thank you very much.

Apparently, that will help bring inflation down too, Jim says. Heaps more money splashed around. Billions. Prices down.

That nasty piece of work at the ABC, Sarah Ferguson, was having a go at Jim over wasting the money on the rich and also reckons it’s all a bit of a trick, the inflation thing.

Like giving away money to reduce power bills was actually some sort of gimmick, playing with figures to get those inflation numbers down. CPI tomfoolery. Not real. Sounds like BS. The ABC, always so biased against Labor. Right wing nut jobs. So unfair.

The really good thing is that $300 is going straight to those energy companies, not to us, so they won’t waste it, like we would.

They could probably do with some extra dough themselves to get more of those renewables cranked up. Aussie solar panels and wind tunnels.

That other bloke, Bowen, says that’s the cheapest form of power now. Bills have doubled, at least, sure, but they have to, so they can fire up the wind and the sun. Whatever, that 75 bucks off our next quarterly power bill will cover all that.

Let’s go get ‘em. Who cares anyway, the main game is inflation, and Jim says it’s coming down, had a six in front of it back then, now a three, says Jim, bring on the two, that’s what we need, get that number down by Christmas and then we get those interest rates down.

That’s what it’s all about.

The other good thing is Jim and Albo are fair dinkum about all this. It’s not about politics or the election or anything. Jim says that.

“I don’t see it in political terms,” he says. Totally get that. Absolutely believe him. Albo is the same. “He wouldn’t see it in political terms either,” Jim says. This isn’t about them. This is about us.

“This Budget is about the economic cycle, not the political cycle.” These guys are definitely focused on getting it right for us, not worrying about elections and stuff. You can see that.

That’s why they didn’t do anything about cost-of-living relief until now. Wrong cycle. Now’s the time. We are in the right economic cycle now. Other name for it is the election cycle. If we can get those power bills down, we’ll be straight into the spin cycle for sure.

The other amazing thing about Jim is the surplus. He’s in the black for the second year now.

That’s seriously good treasurer-ing. Josh and Scomo couldn’t get close. Hopeless. And it’s nothing to do with all the extra tax Jim has collected from workers, or how much money is coming in from all minerals and what is it — commodities — the stuff we dig up and sell around the world.

It’s not that.

Jim and that other smart guy Bowen and Tanya are all against mining, and coal, dead set against it, so it’s not that. Can’t be. It’s more to do with how much Jim has cut back on the Government spending.

And by cut back, it’s complicated, he’s spending more for sure, and even more next year and the year after and the year after and all that, but he has to, it’s not his fault.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MAY 14: Australia’s Treasurer Jim Chalmers smiles before delivering his budget speech at Parliament House on May 14, 2024 in Canberra, Australia. Australia's Labor government is grappling with a slowing economy, weaker commodity prices, soaring housing costs and a softening labor market as it prepares to unveil its federal budget on May 14. To counter these headwinds, the budget is expected to feature smaller revenue upgrades compared to recent years, while outlining the government's interventionist policies aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing and the transition to green energy. Critics warn that such industrial policies risk fueling inflation and diverting resources from more productive sectors of the economy. The budget is seen as a key opportunity for the Labor government to deliver broad economic support that analysts say is fundamental to re-election chances next year. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)
Treasurer Jim Chalmers smiles before delivering his budget speech. Credit: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

So he’s spending more than ever, more than anyone ever, even more than that dud Swanny and that smart arse Keating. But Jim says he’s cutting back as well. Imagine if he wasn’t so responsible! We’d be f....d! So, yes, he’s spending more.

But less more. Maybe just more. But less. Or to be exact, a shitload more.

Someone else was banging on about debt too.

Apparently it’s heading toward $1 trillion. Whatever that is. $1000 billion. That can’t be a big deal, Jim never mentions it. So it must be OK. It’s not real anyway.

Fev was talking about it on Fox FM the other morning with Albo. Tough interview. Fev and Fifi know their stuff. Fev reckons you can just wipe that debt. Albo says that’s not right, but he should have a look at that.

It’s not real money, surely. $1 trillion. No bank would lend you that.

But doesn’t matter, Jim is all over this stuff. He gets it.

“I’m pretty careful, cautious and conservative when it comes to spending public money,” Jim says.

He’s got to be, otherwise we’d be back in deficit big time. And no way do we want to go through that again. Well not until next year anyway.

And then more the year after and the year after that and a few more years after that. But he has no choice. He has to pay for stuff. It’s unavoidable. We all get that.

It’s like inflation. Everything is always going up.

It’s not Jim’s fault.

It’s the cycle.

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