Anthony Albanese brushes off speculation of tension with Jim Chalmers

Anthony Albanese has dismissed speculation of tensions with Treasurer Jim Chalmers over the tax cuts, describing the pair who are known to have a professional relationship but are not close as “absolute besties”.

It has been speculated that the Prime Minister was a reluctant convert to the cause of dumping an election promise to turbocharge tax cuts for low income workers and the Treasurer was the brains behind the decision.

It was then reported the Prime Minister was “testy” that he was copping the flak for breaking an election promise.

Under the changes the vast majority of workers will get a bigger tax cut but a smaller group of higher income earners on $200,000 a year or more will have their tax cuts slashed in half.

Ahead of the Dunkely by-election on Saturday which Labor strategists fear could be a tense race, the Prime Minister has been on morning television to spruik the passage of the tax cuts in Parliament, but the Treasurer was notably absent.

“PM, are you and Jim Chalmers OK?” Today show host Karl Stefanovic asked.

“I mean, you’re still BFFs. He was the architect of these tax cut changes, and you’ve whacked him on a plane to the G20 in Brazil.

“So he can’t bask in the glow of this success. What’s going on between you two?”

But the Prime Minister insisted that the pair, who share a birthday, did not have any beef.

“Oh, we are so close, Karl,” Mr Albanese replied.

“I’ll give you the big tip. And because he’s in Brazil, I can say this both of us are born on the 2nd of March.

“This Saturday. Whenever I say that we’re born on exactly the same day, Jim, for some reason, objects to that. And tries to point out that maybe there was a different year there.

“We talk every, every day. All right? And we text each other every day. We are absolute besties.”

Stefanovic then quipped that the more he described the pair as “besties, the more I think there’s a problem”.

The Treasurer is known to always be at pains to build a positive relationship with the Prime Minister after reports Mr Albanese sometimes belittled him or showered praise on others.

Last month there were reports that tensions are rising in cabinet between Mr Albanese and Mr Chalmers amid claims the Prime Minister was “s****y” that he is copping the blame for the broken promise on tax cuts.

Labor sources told Sky News that Mr Albanese is unhappy with Mr Chalmers over a backlash after the Stage 3 changes that slashed tax cuts for high income earners in half.

The Prime Minister has been spruiking the tax changes this week that deliver bigger and better tax cuts for low and middle income earners.

It follows long-running talk in Labor circles that Mr Albanese lavishes praise on Foreign Minister Penny Wong but belittles his Treasurer who remains a future leadership aspirant.

“Tensions are rising for the obvious reason that Jim is doing well and Albo can see that and is annoyed by it,” Sky News’ Sharri Markson reported.

“In the Labor caucus, the Prime Minister has been known to lavish praise on Penny Wong and Richard Marles and even Don Farrell, but has thanked Mr Chalmers further down his list of acknowledgments, and at times it’s ‘Jim and Katy’ rather than singling out the Treasurer himself.

“This has been a ham-fisted attempt at trying to put Chalmers in his box, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed within Labor, raising a few eyebrows.”

It follows the demotion of Tanya Plibersek, another future leadership prospect, who was previously touted as a leadership option on a joint ticket with the Treasurer before the last election.

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