An ABC morning host has questioned the timing of a ‘soft big profile’ feature on Treasurer Jim Chalmers in which he admitted he was drinking every night.
Weekend News Breakfast host Fauziah Ibrahim asked behavioural economist Evan Lucas for his opinion on the timing of the article.
Her question came on the same day the piece, written by veteran investigative journalist Deborah Snow, was published on Saturday by Nine’s Good Weekend magazine.
Dr Chalmers made a series of revelations about his personal struggles, including heavy drinking and recovering from skin cancer, while opening up on his road to becoming Treasurer and unflagging passion for politics.
Discussing his decision to quit drinking, the Treasurer was asked about talk of him ‘cutting a bit loose socially’ around Parliament House.
‘Because I was drinking too much,’ Dr Chalmers told the magazine.
Ibrahim questioned Mr Lucas on why the ‘soft big profile’ piece was published during what has been a tumultuous period for the Albanese government.
An ABC morning host has questioned the timing of a long ‘soft big profile’ feature on Treasurer Jim Chalmers in which he admitted he was drinking every night
Dr Chalmers made a series of stunning revelations about his personal struggles, including heavy drinking and recovering from skin cancer , while opening up on his road to becoming Treasurer and unflagging passion for politics
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has come under fire for his frequent trips overseas while Aussies continue to struggle at home, while the government was criticised for being caught on the back foot by the High Court’s decision to rule against the indefinite detention of asylum seekers.
Dr Chalmers is also contending with a cost-of-living crisis with inflation at 5.4 per cent and the cash rate sitting at a 12-year-high of 4.35 per cent.
‘Deborah Snow’s piece does say that he doesn’t seem to do anything in moderation,’ Ibrahim said.
‘The question I have and maybe it’s me just being a cynic here (is) why now, why this lovely soft big profile piece on the treasurer right now?’
‘It’s a very good question, Fauziah and again, yes, that cynical part of my brain sort of clicks that on considering, you know, this week has been pretty bruising for the government,’ Mr Lucas responded.
He also referred to Snow’s article as a ‘puff’ piece, suggesting it was used to promote Dr Chalmers.
Mr Lucas said the Voice referendum defeat on October 14 had also been ‘bruising’ for the government.
‘It’s probably a good time to show, you know, what is clearly a future generation MP – the man is only 45-years-old,’ he said.
‘He has very strong ambitions and it is very clear that he could one day be the next Prime Minister of this country, considering where he sits.’
Snow declined to comment about the timing of the piece when contacted by Daily Mail Australia.
A note from Good Weekend’s editor Katrina Strickland in the magazine explained in great detail how the article about the Treasurer came about.
‘It’s rare, in these media-managed times, for a politician to open up to a journalist about their vulnerabilities and human foibles,’ Strickland wrote.
‘His opponents will no doubt question his motives and/or use his openness against him.
‘Call me naive but I tend to believe Chalmers when he says that, having committed to this profile – which was our idea, not his – he wanted to do it properly.’
The editor also anticipated that some might question why the publication was profiling the Federal Treasurer 18 months into him holding the job.
‘Because by all accounts we’re entering the most treacherous of economic times, not just in Australia but around the globe,’ Strickland wrote.
‘And that was before the Middle East blew up.’
Federal Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers (pictured wife Laura) gave a wide-ranging interview where he revealed he quit drinking three years ago
The Queensland MP said he did not want to teach his children Leo, 8, Annabel, 6, and Jack, 4, (pictured with he and wife Laura) that drinking was the normal way to unwind
‘Given that, we felt it worth knowing more about the man who, alongside PM Anthony Albanese, will lead Australia’s response to whatever comes next.’
Dr Chalmers said in the piece he went teetotal because he didn’t want his children Leo, 8, Annabel, 6, and Jack, 4, to think that drinking wine and beers on the couch every night was the normal way to unwind.
Among other topics discussed in the interview was Mr Chalmers’ road to becoming Treasurer, having developed a passion for politics and history in high school courtesy of one of his teachers.
He would later write to the same teacher after completing a PhD in political science and international relations to thank him for his support.
The keen sports nut talked about his love of the Broncos and how he still plays basketball and trains at his local F45 gym whenever he can.
His newfound health kick was perhaps also spurred on by a frightening bout with skin cancer, having a melanoma cut from his chest in late 2020, which affected him for months as the wound refused to heal properly.
At one point he spent the night in a Canberra Hospital emergency room before fronting up to cameras at Parliament House the next morning on no sleep.
Ibrahim has courted controversy in the past: she was removed from air in the lead-up to the 2022 federal election after it emerged she had a list of ‘Lobotomised s***heads’ and ‘Labor trolls/thugs’ on social media platform X.
She was back on air a week after the election