Dr Chalmers, facing increasing frustration over cost-of-living pressures, gave a wide-ranging interview to Good Weekend magazine this week, but his honest response to a throwaway five-word remark shows a side to the Labor frontbencher most Australians would be surprised by, given his polished media presence.
When discussing his decision to go teetotal, the interviewer remarked there was talk of him ‘cutting a bit loose socially’ around Parliament House, to which Dr Chalmers responded: ‘Because I was drinking too much’.
The treasurer then added this wasn’t behind his decision to get on the wagon but rather he wanted to focus on the ‘big, serious job’ of leading the country and felt he couldn’t do so fully if he was ‘drinking six or seven nights a week’.
The Queensland MP said he wanted to teach his children Leo, 8, Annabel, 6, and Jack, 4, who he shares with wife Laura that there was more to life to than cracking open a cold one at the end of a tough workday.
‘For their whole life, up until three years ago, my main way of winding down was to drink beers and wines at night on the couch. And it wasn’t one or two. I didn’t want them to get to a certain age and think that’s what adults do every night.’
Dr Chalmers (pictured at Parliament House with wife Laura) said he ‘doesn’t do anything in moderation’
Among other topics discussed in the interview was Mr Chalmers’ road to becoming Federal 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.
But it was Paul Keating’s biography, which he stumbled upon at the age of 17 that instilled in him a deep determination to pursue a political career.
His PhD thesis was his own version of Keating’s story which he titled ‘Brawler statesman’.
The Federal Treasurer talked about his love of 90s hip hop, the Broncos and basketball
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.
His fondness for the music of 90s hip hop stars like Snoop Dogg and Tupac also rated a mention but his candid comment: ‘I don’t do moderation, in anything’ is perhaps the most telling admission about why he has risen to the second most powerful job in the nation.
‘I’m always going 100 miles an hour. If I eat a piece of chocolate, I eat a block of chocolate. If I want to work in politics, I want to be the treasurer. If I want to go for a run, I want to run 20 kilometres.’