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

19 August 2008

Doorstop Interview

Avalon, Victoria

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

SUBJECTS: Liberal's Raid on Surplus, Budget Tax Cuts, Sports Funding

TREASURER:

Well, the Liberal Party has apparently decided to blow a multibillion hole in the budget surplus.  This is dangerously irresponsible to blow a hole in the budget surplus at a time of international uncertainty.  Australia needs a strong surplus to act as a buffer against international uncertainty, and for the Liberal Party to blow a multibillion hole in the budget surplus is the height of economic [irresponsibility].  It just shows the Liberal Party is incapable of acting responsibly.  All we get is short term politics, and the problem here is all they do is create uncertainty.

JOURNALIST:

What do you think their reasoning is for it?

TREASURER:

Well, I think the Liberal Party has simply lost the plot.  They are so riven by internal divisions they are incapable of behaving in an economically responsible way. So, what we’re seeing is short term politics, we’re not seeing the long term national interest.  The Liberal Party is choosing short term politics over the long term national interest.

JOURNALIST:

What does this mean for the budget’s bottom line?

TREASURER:

Well, what it means for the budget bottom line is they’re conducting a raid on the surplus of multibillion dollar proportions - billions of dollars the Opposition announced today and probably more to come.  At this time of international uncertainty the country needs economic responsibility and it needs certainty. What the Liberal Party has chosen is short term politics and economic irresponsibility.

JOURNALIST:

On the alcopops tax itself, though, do you think that there is growing opposition to it?

TREASURER:

This is a responsible measure, it deals with binge drinking.  But what it does is blow a hole in the surplus - a surplus that we need to act as a buffer against international uncertainty. 

Just on the question of tax, this is a budget which is cutting taxation - $7 billion in personal income tax cuts this year, $10 billion next year, $13 billion the year after.  We are cutting tax overall as a percentage of GDP.

JOURNALIST:

This (inaudible) more and more of the financial benefits of the alcopops tax.  Is it a tax grab?

TREASURER:

Absolutely not.  This is a responsible measure, a responsible measure to curb binge drinking. It has the support of police commissioners.  It has the support of health experts.  If the Liberal Party want to side with those who don’t understand the need to tackle binge drinking, they can.  But this Government will act in a responsible way, and that’s what we’re doing.

JOURNALIST:

Just quickly, (inaudible) the Great Ocean Road and Point Addis today (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

We’ve been down there talking about the impact of climate change on the region, the need to deal with climate change in the short term, the medium term and the long term.  And what I found down there is a strong desire to do the right thing to tackle dangerous climate change. 

JOURNALIST:

Do you think we’re spending enough on our sports?

TREASURER:

Well, first of all, can I congratulate all of our athletes in Beijing.  I think they’ve represented the country proudly and the Australian taxpayers have been strong supporters of our athletes.  We’ll have a talk with the Australian Olympic Committee about their future needs.  But we have been strong supporters, the taxpayers of Australia have been strong supporters, of our athletes.  We’ll talk to the Olympic Committee about their needs in the future.