Greens MP Max Chandler-Mather, a constant annoyance to Anthony Albanese, took just a week to pick a fight with the Prime Minister upon returning to Parliament this year.
Chandler-Mather managed to get under the Prime Minister’s skin during Monday’s question time with a joke about Albanese’s rental property portfolio, which reportedly earns him about $115,000 a year.
“Labour’s refusal to phase out billions of dollars in tax concessions for property investors – like you – is denying millions of renters the opportunity to buy a home,” said the 31-year-old first-term MP.
He added that 75 per cent of Labor MPs own investment property and questioned whether this influenced the government’s decision to avoid making changes to Australia’s negative gearing policies.
Mr Albanese, who has had a boost to his time in Parliament after his unfulfilled promise of Stage Three tax cuts was welcomed, was clearly frustrated by the question.
He responded in a way that Chandler-Mather has become very familiar with since he was chosen to represent Griffith’s Brisbane seat in May 2022.
Albanese and the Labor Party have accused Chandler-Mather of stirring up outrage over housing to further her own political ambitions.
“The idea that there will be a discussion with that youthful approach that we have seen from the opposites will not happen,” the prime minister said sarcastically.
‘This is not a student council, it is a Parliament.
‘It is a parliament that has a responsibility to look after the people who put us here, not to boast.
“There will be no negotiations on that basis.”
Chairman Milton Dick noted that Mr Chandler-Mather’s question was “quite close to the wind” and warned members to challenge other MPs’ motives with their questions.
Labor is acutely aware that any economic concessions to the Greens could expose them to further criticism for broken promises, after backtracking on the Stage Three tax cut commitment the Prime Minister made no less than 36 times.
While the decision was clearly politically savvy – polls show a majority of Australians support keeping more money in their own pockets – MPs are not eager to be seen as breaking new promises on issues such as negative gearing.
Chandler-Mather seems to take pride in his ability to irritate the Prime Minister. Some insiders say he is something of a ghost from Albanese’s past and probably reminds the Prime Minister a little of his younger self.
Both men came from Labor-loving families and joined the party as teenagers, eager to embrace the party’s left-wing ideology.
Chandler-Mather says she is neither surprised nor bothered by the frosty relationship she shares with the government.
Albanese was considered a “radical” even within the left of his party, branded as an “inciter”
It was not enough for Chandler-Mather, who left the party in 2013 in favor of the Greens.
In 2022, he spoke out about the decision, claiming he could not remain in a party willing to maintain offshore detention facilities on Nauru under Kevin Rudd.
‘I left the ALP in 2013 for the same reason many people stopped voting for them. “They have abandoned their principles, they will not fix the rigged system and they have no vision of a better life for all Australians,” he said in promotional material for his new party.
He was a member of the Labor left faction during his time at the University of Queensland. His parents were also members and reportedly encouraged him to join.
He worked for the United Voice union, before becoming a union organizer for the National Tertiary Education Union after graduating.
Meanwhile, Albanese was considered a “radical” even within the left of his party, branded an “inciter.”
Chandler-Mather, a member of Griffith’s inner Brisbane seat, has been scathing of the Labor government’s housing policies, including rental assistance, on social media, racking up millions of views.
At 26, he was a senior member of the New South Wales Labor left and was elected in Grayndler at 33.
Over the decades, the prime minister’s position on certain issues has softened.
He has been much more balanced than before in his assessment of the crisis in Palestine and Israel, and has taken a step back from his strong commitment to the Uluru Declaration from the Heart in the face of defeat after the Indigenous Voice referendum to Parliament.
And he has made his dislike for Mr. Chandler-Mather clear.