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That 7.30 Report Interview: Have Over-Reactions in the Mainstream Media Strengthened Jim Chalmer’s Outreach?

By Denis Bright

Jim Chalmers delivered an astute clarification of aspects of his concepts of Values-Based Capitalism and Co-Investment for the rebuilding of the Australian economy at a time of volatility in financial markets (7.30 Report 31 January 2023).

In juxtaposition, The Australian and several mainstream media agencies preferred vilification of Jim Chalmers above fair but critical reporting.

Jim Chalmer’s comments could have smothered as just another interpretation of future directions for the Australian economy.

Sarah Ferguson’s interactions may not have occurred without the dramas caused by over-reaction to a harmless essay.

Sarah Ferguson’s interviewing style on the 7.30 Report was an exemplar of even-handed critical journalism. Her enthusiasm and knowledge of the concept of Values-Based Capitalism added vitality to a potentially boring topic. The text of the interview is now on Jim Chalmer’s media site to supplement the video available from the 7.30 Report site. Sarah Ferguson commenced her interview with an open-ended question:

Sarah Ferguson: What is values‑based capitalism that you’re writing about in this essay and how is it different to what we have now?

Jim Chalmers in reply emphasized that his economic framework might strengthen our democracy and all participants in the economy as there could be no losers from a Win-Win set of priorities. Neoconservative editorial departments would have liked more polemics in the Treasurer’s responses.

His replies were a confirmation of the very conventional economic values which the editorial writers were actually promoting.

The key add-on from Jim Chalmers was about the negative consequences of delivering more of the same policy mix which might have been appropriate during the resources boom prior to the GFC:

Jim Chalmers: My essay is all about how we strengthen our economy and strengthen our institutions in a way that strengthens our society and strengthens our democracy. And it differs from the approach taken over the last decade or so because I think for the best part of a decade we’ve been pretending as a country that we have to choose between our economic objectives and our social objectives and in the process, we haven’t done a great job of satisfying either set of objectives. And so what this tries to do is to say that we would be much better off if we had the public sector and the private sector working together in the service of our national economic goals in a way that modernises our economy and modernises our institutions and strengthens our democracy, so that we can rebuild faith that our approach to the economy brings with it a whole range of other benefits too.

Jim Chalmer’s essay covered the possibilities of co-investment between government and the corporate sector in the delivery of that essential change agenda which brought the Albanese Government to office after a decade of neoliberal policies after 2013 followed by a legitimate and bipartisan commitment to deficit spending and government intervention during the COVID-19 crisis.

This commitment to sustainable prosperity through Co-Investment is endorsed by Italian economist Mariana Mazzucato who is well known for her inspirational research and teaching at universities in the US, Britain and Australia at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

Across the road from UTS, Central Place Sydney is a perfect example of what has already been achieved in urban renewal from a former industrial site with Win-Win commitments through partnerships between successive NSW Governments and the corporate sector which promotes architectural innovation, energy sustainability in design, improved housing supply and employment growth.

Just image how much could be achieved after Premier Chris Minns and his Treasurer Daniel Mookhey MLC offer a greater commitment to affordable housing in future projects on the Outer Metro Corridors of Sydney and the Regions (Central Place Sydney):

Central Place Sydney is a joint venture between two of Australia’s leading property groups, Frasers Property Australia and Dexus, and will be Sydney’s most significant CBD development in over a decade.

Central Place Sydney will be at the heart of the NSW Government-backed Tech Central innovation district and will define the future of work and workplaces, as well as set the precedent for healthy building technology. The development will position Tech Central as a key driver of innovation and growth in the Asia Pacific region and significantly contribute to large-scale urban change in Sydney.

When completed, Central Place Sydney will become a vibrant gateway to the southern end of Sydney CBD. With a diverse retail and dining offering, public art and green spaces, improved pedestrian amenity and connectivity to Central Station, Central Place Sydney will be an exciting destination for the people of Sydney to enjoy.

Commentators on the Sky News network have dismissed the value of Jim Chalmer’s reflective essay.

Substituting negativity for critical reporting has only widened attention to Jim Chalmer’s essay criticism only widened the outreach of the essay. Talented political leaders of all persuasions have taken up big picture issues to promote community discussion and involvement in policy development. The Monthly essay is simply part of this well-established routine of floating fresh ideas.

Lampooning the value of critical discussion has anti-democratic characteristics.

Should political discussion regress to an inner circle of policy elites while most of society watches hours of latest releases from the streaming channels largely under the control of Anglo-American corporate giants?



Outer Metro federal electorates like Rankin which has been represented by Jim Chalmers since 2013 are a challenge to leaders with a change agenda. While the LNP candidate in 2022 lost 2.34 percent of the primary vote for the Coalition over the 2016 result, the LNP vote was built up by strong preference flows against Labor from One Nation and the UAP.

Jim Chalmer’s own electorate of Rankin in Brisbane and Logan City’s Outer Metro South is not typical of many other Queensland federal electorates.

In Queensland, Labor holds just five federal seats out of thirty and sometimes struggles to gain two of the six senate spots available at each half-senate election.

The Monthly essay is surely an attempt to develop a greater affinity between voters in potential Labor heartlands and political insiders who frame policy drafts behind the scenes.

Describing the essay as a drift towards a quasi-command economy was blown away in Jim Chalmer’s replies.

Proof that the old ways private sector capital investment was not working too well in the recent decade of LNP rule came with the publication of private sector capital expenditure data for the September Quarter of 2022. The next edition for the December Quarter is due on 23 February 2023:

Annual Private Sector Australian Capital Expenditure

  • Total new capital expenditure fell by 0.6%
  • Buildings and structures rose by 0.5%
  • Equipment, plant and machinery fell by 1.6%
  • Estimate 4 for 2022-23 is $155.7b. This is 5.6% higher than Estimate 3 for 2022-23

There are green shoots of improvement in 2022-23 during to flow-on effects of improved trade with Asian countries which are always under threat from deteriorating strategic concerns as the new Cold War intensifies.

The mechanisms for responsible co-investment will need to be tested by the vast resources available to a majority government.

Co-investment strategies will take time to become fully accepted. Even Robert Menzies was prepared to own the need for government intervention which included a continuation of Snowy Mountains Hydro, Rail Standardization and construction of the Ord River Dams and a more regulated banking system and financial system. Post-war recovery would not have occurred so smoothly without responsible levels of government intervention.

The extension of responsible government intervention to the demands of Outback Australia is an urgent necessity on the potential transport corridors to the Northern port of Darwin with its proximity to our Asian trading partners.

Jim Chalmers is looking for alternatives to that boring debate about excessive taxation burdens which has dominated Australian politics for generations. Ironically, it the Anglo-American multinational companies which feature most prominently on the ATO’s latest tax avoidance list (ABC News 2 November 2022).

May the change agenda of The Messiah from Marsden flourish or the Australian economy.

Denis Bright is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback by using the Reply button on The AIMN site is always most appreciated. It can liven up discussion. I appreciate your little intrusions with comments and from other insiders at The AIMN. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Reply button.

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  1. David Stakes

    Cat and Pigeons sort of Jumps to mind..,,.!

  2. Phil Pryor

    Search, remain aware and keen, seek truth, find facts, assess all trends and components.., and you wil see that the shithouse Merde Dog misinformation media, maggotty, meathead entertainment (hah) ouifit of clubby profiteers is worthless in seeking integrity, honesty, actuality, progress, duty, social achievement, balanced judgement, any seriouis relevance. Rupert rose on tits, horses, donations, favours, ads…

  3. Stewart Sweeney

    The News Ltd and elements of other media reaction to the Chalmers’s essay has been predictably, albeit frustratingly, over the top from a right wing and conservative framing. However, the Sarah Ferguson 7.30’interview also reached a low point when she tried a gotcha moment by claiming that one of Chalmers inspirations Marianna Mazzucatto had worked for Jeremy Corbyn. Shock, horror, the Australian is right JC is a communist! Meanwhile here is my letter from Mondays Financial Review.

    Labor limits

    Jim Chalmers’s musings on capitalism starkly reveal the limits of even the best of Labor (AFR 28-29). The ploy of starting and ending on the high road of Greek philosophy cannot disguise the intellectual and practical limitations of the new Australian variety capitalism proposed by Treasurer Chalmers.

    It is the mental models of Keynes, Mazzucato and Carney rather than those of Piketty, Raworth and Hickel that are revealed as the drivers of Chalmers’s vision. While this is no surprise, it confirms that the Treasurer is still living in a world of too little, too late centrism.

    Even, if the policy direction implied by the Treasurer’s essay were fully developed, it would do little to create a sustainable, inclusive and thriving Australia. The fundamentals of our economic policy would remain driven by the pursuit of endless growth, trickle-down would be privileged over redistribution, profits would be privileged over inequality and poverty, our total taxation take would remain inadequate and at the bottom of the OECD rankings, innovation, value-adding and making things would remain the exception rather than the rule.

    Look, don’t get me wrong. Jim Chalmers should be congratulated for opening up a conversation about varieties of capitalism. However, In the absence of genuinely charismatic leaders such as Mandela, Gandhi and King on economic matters then, Australia and elsewhere remain trapped in an unproductively narrow silo of ideas, options and policies regarding our economic structures, processes and outcomes.

    Stewart Sweeney
    10 Pitt Street
    UCITY 1407
    Adelaide 5000

  4. Raelene

    Jim Chalmers should thank the editorial board at News Corp for promoting his article.

  5. Leila

    Best not to overreact to presenting challenges. Why can’t our leaders float fresh ideas.

  6. Clakka

    The rapidity of change since the 40 year rise and recent stagnation of China, along with the post-GFC/Covid imbroglio, has seen chaos and uncertainty burgeon in the markets to the extent that the search for investments to facilitate liquidity spin has been supplanted by hoarding in sieges and ducking and weaving putting enormous pressures on governments seeking to keep their economies buoyant, and their citizens in good shape.

    The commentariat of economists aforementioned are principally US/Euro-centric. A few are rather olde worlde. And it is noteworthy that both America and Britain are economic basket cases. (They and the rest of Europe are also being severely further tested by the advent of the actions of Russia).

    Oz is a completely different kettle of fish, and any ideals extracted from those economists need to be very carefully adapted.

    Over the years I’ve seen and been amongst huge foreign development corporations and constructors come to Oz, going it alone, seeking to wield their knowhow, wealth and power over us antipodeans on this land of dirt, only to see them in relatively short time depart, unsuccessful, vowing never to return.

    I have seen and researched several PPPs, and after a relatively slow and wonky implementation of process, the most recent projects have been very well formulated (by international standards), and successful. Albeit the refinement of processes and standards are ongoing in Oz. That said, over the recent years of the financial interregnum, it is easy to lose momentum and the memory and grey hairs of the halcyon years.

    Given the global situation we find ourselves in, the infrastructural matters we face and the unique circumstances of Oz, I believe it is right and timely for Chalmers to float his essay. Never mind the ‘idiot ball’ naysaying blatherers, there will likely be many that really count giving it hard thought and knocking on his door.

  7. Social Justice

    Yes, a command state exists. It is a command state run by corporate and media elites with an aversion to social commitments like the taxes that normal people pay even on their lunch breaks with GST add-ons

  8. Burleigh waters

    The Gold Coast is a big city now but it is very much in the shadow of its LNP federal representatives in parliament. Jim Chalmers is asking communities like ours to become more daring in their demands and to have some relief from the notion that our society should be run like the corner post office store in Grantham (UK) which was the childhood home of the future Margarter Thatcher.

  9. carmelo@kilcare

    Politics is too top down these days. If someone like Jim Chalmers has a different take to promote discussion, he is attacked on by the corporate press and radio commentators on their networks. Good to see some green shoots in represnetative government processes but there aren’t too many.

  10. Pat

    Thanks Denis for a well researched article.

  11. Chloe

    Thanks for an interesting article Denis.

  12. Terence Mills

    Thanks for the article : Chalmers impresses me as a thinker as do many of the Albanese government.

    The fact that Newscorp and its incoherent progeny at Sky have evidently been instructed to respond with shrill denunciations and vilifications shows that Jim is on the right track.

  13. Tessa_M

    Tanya Plibersek’s electorate office is right near UTS. Co-investment is nothing new particularly near major transport terminals which are in need of a good remake.Well spoken Denis.

  14. James Robo

    Central Place in Sydney has turned an industrial site into a showpiece. Pleased you like the best of Sydney Denis

  15. carmelo@kilcare

    Better than Downtown Memphis, James Robo despite those colourful lyrics from Marc Cohn about Walking in Memphis and finding the ghost of Elvis but no mention of Martin Luther King who met his fate there at the Lorraine Motel, Tyre Nichols death there is part of the sorry saga.

    Australia can run big cities better through the co-investment that Jim Chalmers talks about so eloguently. This is social reality in some revitalized parts of Sydney and not a dream for the future.

    Co-investment for urban renewal should be immortalizd in Australian music perhaps with the new arts funding to assist.

  16. Stephengb

    I read this article by chalmers, yes ALL of it, not just the bits that describe.

    Chalmers is just talking pure nonsense, naive double talk reminiscent of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. Both of whom asked about a partnership with industry, fat lot of good that did.

    So read it again, ask yourself why the hell would business give up any power they have accumulated over the last 45 years. The fact is that Jim has something stuck up his bum – it’s called neoliberalism.

    Charlmers has used nothing but the neoliberal economic narrative since he came to power

    Leopard’s DO NOT change their spots

    Do not be fooled chalmers is advocating more of the same.

  17. wam

    I like Albo’s government and they are doing a good job.
    Our paper, the NT News, is from brisbane not darwin and its letter pages have gems like tuesday when a qld answers a letter from murdoch’s australian letter to the editor.
    An article on chalmers is headed ‘greenhorn’.
    I suspect you read the drivel a few days ago, in various southern papers.

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