Sunrise host Nat Barr has gone head-to-head with Treasurer Jim Chalmers in an intense on-air interview.
The treasurer appeared on the Channel 7 breakfast show ahead of the release of the Intergenerational report, which makes projections about the Australian economy.
During the interview, Nat accused the government of not providing enough funding for NDIS — the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which funds costs associated with disability — calling it “a disaster”.
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She also challenged Chalmers by asking the same question repeatedly when he refused to answer her directly.
The intense exchange started when Nat raised some key areas of concern raised in the report.
“The report will also reveal that the aged care, health, NDIS, defence and servicing government debt is going to be the biggest strain on the budget over the next 40 years,” she said.
Sunrise host Nat Barr on Thursday’s show. Credit: Sunrise
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“We are an ageing population. How are we going to afford to pay for all these things that an ageing population is going to need more than ever?”
The treasurer responded by saying there is an opportunity to grow the carer workforce.
“Well, first of all, it is the case and we’ve known this part of it for a little while now that Australians are living longer lives, they’re healthier for longer,” he said.
“And that does change the way that we need to provide services and care for our people in our communities.
“There’s an opportunity there as well when it comes to what will we think be the spectacular growth of the care economy, the care and support economy.
“Aged care, NDIS, healthcare — as you rightly identified — these are big pressures on the budget but big opportunities for Australia. So if we train the workers, we can be world’s best at putting care at the core of what we do — and also at the core of our industrial base.”
Nat challenged Treasurer Jim Chalmers on some key issues. Credit: Sunrise
‘It’s a disaster’
Nat then interrupted the treasurer to ask, “Can we?”
She added: “Can we, treasurer? Because we can’t get enough aged care workers. We can’t fund the NDIS — it’s a disaster right now, you know that.
“We can’t afford to pay for the NDIS and the health sector — ask anyone. So how are we going to do that in the future when we can’t do that right now?”
When Chalmers responded by saying, “Well, we need to train the workers”, Nat immediately fired back at the treasurer.
“Where are we going to get them from?” she asked.
Chalmers then repeated his statement, saying “Well, we need to train them”, prompting a frustrated Nat to once again ask: “But where are we going to get them from?”
When the treasurer didn’t answer Nat’s question directly, she challenged him repeatedly. Credit: Sunrise
The treasurer then continued on with his answer, saying Nat was asking “important” questions.
“We’re going to train them in our communities, and migration will play a part as well,” he said.
“But primarily, one of the reasons why I’m putting out this intergenerational report, one of the reasons why I’m trying to tell people how we see our economy and our society evolving, is because it challenges us to make sure that we can find the workers and train the workers.
“To make sure that we can fund these services and already over the course of our first two budgets, we’ve made substantial progress in getting the budget in much better nick so that we can fund the things that we really value as a society into the future.
“So really, in lots of ways, these questions that you’re asking important questions about the intergenerational report are the whole point of the intergenerational report.
“We know where the world is headed. We want to make Australians beneficiaries, not victims of a world of churn and change, and that’s what today’s about.”
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