Federal Budget 2024: The human side of Jim Chalmers’ Budget

Dan Jervis-Bardy
The Nightly
2 Min Read
In tonight’s show, Ben Harvey reveals the one page of the Federal Budget Jim Chalmers doesn’t want you to see, decoding the bottom line and explaining why high-fiving tax cuts is a ploy to gloss over Australia’s debt.

Jim Chalmers carried a relaxed smile as he strode toward the ministerial entrance of Parliament House on Tuesday morning, ready to hand down a Federal Budget that could define both him and the nation.

His calm disposition masked a stark reality: this cheerful Treasurer was a man under pressure.

The economic environment he presides over is so delicately balanced that one miscalculation risks sending inflation spiralling or growth grinding to a halt.

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In both scenarios, households suffer.

The nation suffers.

Labor suffers.

Chalmers suffers.

The Queenslander has long been touted as Anthony Albanese’s successor, his rise from Brisbane’s outer suburbs to the Lodge in Canberra at times appearing pre-ordained.

Should Chalmers’ third Budget successfully steer the economy through the inflation storm, while setting it up to capitalise on brighter days ahead, his credentials will be undeniable.

But should he stumble — should, for instance, Treasury’s forecast that inflation will return to the target range in time for Christmas prove wrong — his record and credibility will be tarnished.

The Treasurer will shoulder the praise or the blame (or both) that comes in the days ahead.

But there’s another set of fingerprints on each page of the blue Budget papers.

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher’s influence on the Budget — and this Labor Government in general — cannot be overstated.

As one of Anthony Albanese’s closest confidantes, Gallagher keeps not just a watchful eye on every line of spending but also on the youthful Treasurer who might one day replace him.

The Treasurer-Finance Minister dynamic is a defining feature of this Government.

Jim and Katy are for all intents and purposes equal, deferring to one another at press conferences and sharing the limelight of the pre-Budget roadshow.

But only one delivered the speech on Tuesday night.

Only one will be defined by this Budget.

For better or worse.

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The front page of The Nightly for 28-05-2024

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