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

27 June 2008

Doorstop Interview

Parliament House, Canberra

27 June 2008

SUBJECT: Dr Ken Henry; Emissions Trading Scheme

TREASURER:

I just wanted to make some remarks about the Treasury Secretary, Dr Henry.  Dr Henry is perfectly entitled to take leave.  He’s done so with my approval and the approval of the Government.  Dr Henry has worked around the clock and non-stop since this Government was elected.  He is a highly professional public servant.  He’s held in the highest regard by the Government and, therefore, it’s regrettable that we’ve had this smear launched against Dr Henry today by the Liberal Party.

Dr Henry, as I said before, is taking leave with my approval and the support of the Government.  It’s a logical time for Dr Henry to take leave.  He worked through Christmas.  He worked around the clock on the Budget and now is the time, with the parliamentary session over, for him to take some leave because there’s a lot more to do for the rest of the year and into next year.

Dr Henry will be running the Henry Review when it comes to taxation – a lot of work over the next 18 months.  A lot of work over the next 18 months on COAG and the reform of Federal-State relations.  And of course, a lot of work on emissions trading. So, it’s appropriate he takes a break now, comes back recharged and gets stuck into that very big agenda which the Government is working on.

So, therefore, I do think it is regrettable that we have today this smear campaign from Dr Nelson.  I mean, Dr Nelson thinks it’s okay for Alexander Downer to go and play golf, to go to lunch during question time, for Mark Vaile to travel the Middle East as a consultant, but it’s not okay for our top public servant to take a few weeks off in the middle of the year when he’s worked through Christmas and worked right through the Budget.

There’s been a fair bit of commentary about the working hours of this Government.  The Government has been working very hard and our senior public servants have been working very hard.  And that has been particularly the case in the Treasury, because in the Treasury, when you’re bringing down a Budget, you do work around the clock, and that’s why it’s entirely appropriate for Dr Henry to take leave now.  But the Treasury is an extremely talented organisation and it will be in good hands while Dr Henry is on leave.  Over to you.

JOURNALIST:

So, it’s fine for people to take a bit of a break from 24/7?

TREASURER:

Absolutely.  Very important, given the scale of the reform plans that the Government has ahead of it – reform of Federal/State relations, the emissions trading scheme, the tax review – these are all things that Dr Henry will be working on when he gets back because he’ll be working around the clock again.  They’re very important issues for the country.  Everybody, including Dr Henry, is entitled to a break – even in the Press Gallery.

JOURNALIST:

Speaking of an emissions trading system, will the Government fully compensate people for the cost of living rises that will come with an emissions trading system?

TREASURER:

We’ll be dealing with all of those issues in the Green Paper that we publish next month.  There’ll be a comprehensive discussion of all of those issues but we’ve made it very clear that compensation will be part and parcel of the introduction of an emissions trading system.  But the detail of that will be fully canvassed in the Green Paper and the community can have a discussion about all of that as we move through the process of finalising our plans for an emissions trading system.

JOURNALIST:

 (inaudible) consideration of nuclear energy.  There’s been calls from Mr Carr and unionists for the Labor Party to…

TREASURER:

No, a capital N-O.

JOURNALIST:

Speaking of compensation, just speaking in principle, Mr Swan, do you think that the compensation the Government gives as part of the emissions trading scheme should be means tested?

TREASURER:

I’m not going to canvas any of those issues ahead of the Green Paper.

JOURNALIST:

What’s your view then about lowering fuel excise to offset the cost of…

TREASURER:

I’m not canvassing any of those issues.  We can wait for the Green Paper.

JOURNALIST:

 (inaudible) about the principle of means testing across a whole range of government activities, why not on this one too?

TREASURER:

Because we’re going to discuss all those issues in the Green Paper, and I’m not indicating one way or the other on any of these issues.

JOURNALIST:

 (inaudible) still committed to a mid-2010 introduction of the ETS?

TREASURER:

We are committed to a 2010 introduction.

JOURNALIST:

Are you reappointing Graeme Samuel to the ACCC?

TREASURER:

That’s a matter for the Government to announce at the appropriate time.