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

29 March 2008

Doorstop Interview

Nundah Shopping Village
Brisbane

29 March 2008

SUBJECTS: Tax Cuts; Interest Rates; Paid Maternity Leave; Opes Prime

TREASURER:

Well, new Treasury modeling shows that the Rudd Government's tax cuts are focused fairly and squarely on low and middle income earners, people who are earning modest incomes who've been left behind in recent years by previous governments – shop assistants, mechanics, people who are working in clerical occupations, childcare workers. They will be the significant beneficiaries of these tax cuts. There are something like 1.8 million women who work part time and earn less than $20,000 a year. They will receive significant tax cuts as a percentage of their income.

So, people on low and middle incomes will be the significant beneficiaries of the Rudd Government's tax cuts from the 1st July. People who are clerical workers, those workers who are in childcare, those people like mechanics and labourers, they've been left behind in the past. They've worked hard to make our economy strong and the Rudd Government will deliver for them. They've delivered for the economy and these tax cuts will deliver for them.

JOURNALIST:

How significant a break will it be for these people?

TREASURER:

Well, I think it's quite significant. As a percentage of their income, they receive the largest increases– two per cent and three per cent – for these low and middle income workers. They've been left behind in the past. Very significant, particularly when you've got cost of living pressures and so on out there that are putting financial pressure on Australian families.

JOURNALIST:

Now, who are the losers then if they're the winners?

TREASURER:

No, there's no losers. The big winners will be those low and middle income earners, particularly those part time women workers earning under $20,000 a year – 1.8 million of them – the sort of people that are in the shops behind us here today. They're going to get a fair go and that's a good thing for them and it's a good thing for our economy.

JOURNALIST:

I guess with interest rates and the like as well, pressure-wise, it must be an extra reason why (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Well, I think it's very important that people who've worked hard to make the economy strong get a fair go in the tax system. And that's what they're going to get with these changes from the 1st July this year.

JOURNALIST:

What sort of figures are you talking about?

TREASURER:

The sort of figures we're talking about are about $20.00 for those on modest incomes. If you're a part time worker, $20.00 a week is a significant sum for a modest income.

JOURNALIST:

Is this going to be a consistent policy from the Rudd Government?

TREASURER:

These tax cuts are affordable. We will only deliver tax cuts that are responsible and are affordable. That's the most important point. The country has done well in recent years; we can afford these tax cuts. We must reward the people who've worked hard to make our economy strong. In the past they've been left behind. They are the bedrock of the economy. The people working behind us here today deserve some incentive.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) interest rate rise?

TREASURER:

Well, that's a matter for the Reserve Bank. But the Government is doing everything in its power to put maximum downward pressure on inflation and therefore maximum downward pressure on interest rates.

JOURNALIST:

On another topic, the CPSU is holding its annual meeting and drawing a plan for the next five years and they're going to push for 26 weeks of paid maternity leave. (inaudible)

TREASURER:

Well, the Government's examining paid maternity leave. We think that the women of Australia who also work hard and bring up the next generation of Australians are deserving of some support. But we'll only do what is affordable and is fair and responsible in the long-term. So, we've referred the matter to the Productivity Commission and we'll have a good look at when we receive that report.

JOURNALIST:

And what about the collapse of Opes Prime yesterday?

TREASURER:

Well, this matter is being investigated by ASIC. I spoke to the head of ASIC this morning. There's a special team investigating this matter but I can't make any further comment other than that.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

Well, ASIC is investigating that. But I've been assured that its ramifications for the market are not significant. There will certainly be ramifications for some investors.