Australia’s Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, is often compared to former prime minister Paul Keating due to their similarities in political background and ambition. Both Chalmers and Keating have dedicated themselves to the Labor Party from a young age and come from the Labor right faction. Additionally, they have achieved high office at a relatively young age, with Keating becoming treasurer at 39 and Chalmers at 44. Both leaders are also known for their ambitions for the country and their larrikin streaks.
However, there are also notable differences between Chalmers and Keating. Keating grew up in Sydney’s Bankstown with a father who owned a successful business, while Chalmers grew up in working-class Logan, south of Brisbane, with a nurse for a mother and a father who worked as a courier driver. Chalmers still lives in Logan today, close to his childhood home. In terms of demeanor, Chalmers is described as civil and approachable, while Keating is known for his caustic and aloof nature.
Despite these differences, Chalmers and Keating share a commitment to the Labor Party and have contributed to the party in their own ways. Keating learned from the firebrand Jack Lang during his early years, while Chalmers worked alongside more modern and moderate Labor leaders. Chalmers has shown a willingness to engage with the business community, despite differences in opinion, whereas Keating had a more contentious relationship with business leaders.
Chalmers recently addressed the National Press Club to present Australia’s sixth Intergenerational Report. He emphasized the need for Australia to overcome challenging problems, such as an aging population, a smaller workforce, and the cost of supporting an aging population. Chalmers compared the magnitude of these issues to the economic reforms led by Keating in the 1980s, stating that the current decade must mark the end of complacency.
One of the significant transformations Chalmers mentions is the transition from a carbon-based economy to a renewable one. The Intergenerational Report highlights the potential economic losses if the world fails to meet climate targets. Chalmers stresses the importance of addressing climate change as a global environmental and economic imperative, and recognizes the significant investments required for a successful response.
Overall, Chalmers follows in the footsteps of Paul Keating as a prominent figure in the Labor Party and shares Keating’s ambition for a better future for Australia.