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

12 May 2008

Doorstop Interview

Parliament House

12 May 2008

SUBJECTS: Budget

TREASURER:

Well, the printers are whirring and the Budget numbers are locked in. This is going to be a responsible Budget. There will be significant savings; significant savings to fight inflation. Because if we don't fight inflation we'll have higher prices and higher interest rates. So, this will be a responsible Budget. And I'm confident the Australian people will understand the need for a Budget which makes these savings to fight inflation.

JOURNALIST:

What's the newspaper headline on Wednesday morning?

TREASURER:

I think on Wednesday morning the newspaper headline will be: A responsible Budget to build a strong economy which delivers for working families.

JOURNALIST:

The savings, Treasurer - surely someone's going to hurt through this process?

TREASURER:

I'm confident that Australians understand the need for tough decisions in this Budget. Spending has been out of control in recent times. It falls to this Government to rein in irresponsible spending. We must do that to put downward pressure on prices and downward pressure on interest rates.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Swan, there's a story this morning that the War Memorial might have to cut its annual Christmas carols because of your Budget savings. Do you risk turning from Robin Hood into Scrooge?

TREASURER:

I haven't seen that story this morning so I couldn't possibly comment on it.

JOURNALIST:

You've also indicated this morning in The Australian that the downside from the US downturn and the credit crunch will mean that the upside from the commodities boom won't be outweighed. Doesn't that indicate, though, that the economy's is doing some slowing down on its own?

TREASURER:

We're not going to be as lucky as the previous government when it came to revenue upgrades so we can't be as lazy in terms of our response. That's why we've had to make significant savings. The previous government just relied upon endless increases in taxation revenue to fund increasing spending. We haven't got that luxury. We've got to go out and work hard to find our savings to put downward pressure on prices and downward pressure on interest rates.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) more than $150,000 now a rich family in Australia?

TREASURER:

I'm not getting into definitions today.

JOURNALIST:

Will it be after tomorrow?

TREASURER:

You'll have to wait and see.

JOURNALIST:

There's been some pretty grim predictions regarding the fallout from your decision to lift the Medicare surcharge. Have you been overly generous?

TREASURER:

I think we've made a very important decision when it comes to the Medicare Surcharge Levy. Up to two million people have been caught in a tax trap. We have removed that tax trap. I think it's a fair thing to do and it's a very fair decision.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) saying that Kevin Rudd promised then before the election that the system would remain unchanged. Have you broken a promise?

TREASURER:

No, that's not what Kevin Rudd said before the election. I've read Kevin Rudd's letter.

JOURNALIST:

Will there be money in the Budget to bolster the public health system which will have to cope with any exodus of private health insurance members?

TREASURER:

Well, certainly there will be money in the Budget to bolster the public health system because that's the commitment we made to the Australian people, and we are going to deliver on that commitment in this Budget.

JOURNALIST:

A lot of what's come out about the Budget to this date has focussed on the demand side. Do you believe you'll be able to deliver enough on the supply side to ease constraints in the economy without spooking the Reserve Bank into raising interest rates?

TREASURER:

This Budget will tackle inflation by making savings, but importantly, put in place the necessary investments for the future, and investments for the future are to expand the supply capacity of the economy which has also been putting upward pressure on interest rates. But I'm confident that Australians will understand the need for tough decisions because sometimes good housekeeping does require tough decisions - tough decisions to protect against international uncertainty and tough decisions so we can plan for the future and invest for the future.

Thanks.