The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

14 January 2008

Interview with Peta Donald

AM Program
ABC Radio

Monday, 14 January 2008

SUBJECTS: Treasurers meeting, Commonwealth-State funding agreements, banking reform

TONY EASTLEY:

$150m is a lot of money in anyone's eyes but put all the state's treasurers and health ministers in just one room and the money is soon spent. The Rudd Government has put the funds on the table and today in Brisbane all the interested parties will be there for the carve up. The idea is for the money to cut waiting times for elective surgery. New South Wales has already put its hand up arguing it deserves one third of the money because it's got a third of the population. It could be an interesting get together and a fine balancing act for the Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan who spoke to Peta Donald in Canberra.

TREASURER:

Well I am looking forward to working with my state colleagues to take on some of the very big challenges facing the country and one of those big challenges is the reduction in elective surgery waiting lists.

JOURNALIST:

Yes, there is $150m on the table for the states to reduce those waiting lists, or the waiting time for elective surgery. What do you think of the argument coming from NSW that because it has a third of the population it should get a third of the money?

TREASURER:

Well no doubt that will be talked about today so I don't intend to pre-judge the outcome of that matter. But it might just be what can be done in this package today is reform down the track. We've got to make sure that hard earned taxpayers' dollars really reach the service delivery level and what we're determined to do is have an impact. This is about reform of the health system, not just in the short term but the longer term, so we can have local service delivery effectively delivered across the country wherever people live.

JOURNALIST:

Is it true that you will be proposing a whole lot of health grants of $1m to $3m be rolled into one agreement?

TREASURER:

Well we're looking at the reform of specific purpose payments across the board. There are something like 90 individual specific purpose payments. Now that's a lot of administration. We think we can eliminate waste and duplication and make sure those hard earned taxpayers' dollars reach the people who need them.

JOURNALIST:

What if sometime in the future you would like to have the conditions that are currently attached to those payments? Wouldn't you like to have that control over how the states spend the money perhaps sometime in the future?

TREASURER:

What we want to influence is the outcome. We want a more effective service delivery on the ground. At the moment, there is a tremendous amount of administration looking at what is called the inputs to the agreement. We want to see the outcomes delivered to the Australian people. So yes, there will be supervision of the money, but it will be supervision of the money without the waste and duplication that has grown up over a very long period of time and we've got to eliminate the waste and duplication so taxpayers' dollars reach the people that need them.

JOURNALIST:

On the interest rates going up, all the major banks have now put up rates outside any prompting from the Reserve Bank. Is it possible for you to cut out the fees that people incur if people change their loan from one lender to another?

TREASURER:

Well Australian families deserve the best deal they can get from banks, and we want to help them get the best deal. So it is important that if people want to change their account in a competitive market that they can do that with relative ease. So I will be talking to the banks about this issue and I will also be talking to the regulatory authorities and I've commissioned a report from the Federal Treasury because what many people say to me is they can't vote with their feet because there are unreasonable road blocks which prevent them from shifting banks and therefore inhibiting competition.

JOURNALIST:

So you want to scrap those fees?

TREASURER:

Well we're looking at all of the issues associated with portability. And when I have received that report, when I have discussed it with the banks, I will come back with a response.