‘I’m falling behind’: Treasurer Jim Chalmers unable to offer hope to pensioners

Nov 04, 2022
Treasurer Jim Chalmers fronts Q+A since the budget was revealed. Source: @QandA/Twitter

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has faced his first ABC Q+A audience since revealing the Federal Budget on October 25 and had a bleak response for pensioners struggling to make ends meet with the rising cost of living.

Despite Labor throwing in some sweeteners for pensioners in the Budget, including a boost in pension payments and raising the income threshold for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Care card, pensioners like Fiona have said it’s not enough.

Standing up to ask her question, Fiona, who only has $20 to her name, asked Chalmers for advice on what she needs to cut from her budget to survive, saying she often has to decide between basic necessities.

“With non-discretionary items rising faster than CPI indexation, welfare recipients like myself are meant to be grateful for (the rise to indexation). What essentials should I be cutting from my budget?” she asked.

“I’m still playing catch up and it’s all falling behind.”

Pointing out things were likely to get worse before they get better, Chalmers was unable to offer Fiona hope, saying the way the budget was trying to help was by attempting to address the issue by bringing down inflation.

“The best thing we can do is try and address inflation. That’s what the budget was about,” the Treasurer replied.

“But I don’t want to pretend to Fiona or to anyone in Fiona’s position that the budget nine nights ago fixed all of these challenges.

“I do need to be upfront with all of you about the nature of this challenge that we are confronting right now.

“And our best contribution to this problem is being restrained in our spending.

“Nobody has a perfect crystal ball, but the expectations of the Reserve Bank and the Treasury is that this inflation challenge will get a bit worse until the end of the year.

“The main thing I can do here – the worst thing that could happen for Fiona and for people around Australia – is if we let this inflation get out of control … That’s what I’m trying to avoid.”

Host Stan Grant pointed out to Chalmers that it was “people like Fiona who are indebted or struggling” that will “bear the burden of this war on inflation”.

“When does this turn around for someone like Fiona?,” Grant questioned.

Chalmers reiterated the best thing the government could do, was address the root cause: inflation.

“The cost of living is going through the roof, and that has a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable amongst us, and we understand that,” Chalmers said.

“My responsibility to you, Fiona, and to the whole country, is to try and take the right economic decisions, to make sure we are not making inflation worse.”

Watch the full Q+A episode here.


Leave your comment

Please sign in to post a comment.
Retrieving conversation…
Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up