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 August 2008

Doorstop Interview

Parliament House, Canberra

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

SUBJECTS: Prime Minister's address to the National Press Club, Nelson/Turnbull split on economy, inflation, Opposition blocking the Budget in the Senate, schools funding

TREASURER:

Today the contrast couldn’t be clearer – the Prime Minister outlining a long-term agenda for the future at the Press Club, meanwhile the Liberal Party playing irresponsible politics, vandalising the Budget surplus, a strong Budget surplus that we need to keep strong in uncertain global times. 

And of course, when you look at the Opposition confusion reins supreme.  Yesterday in the Parliament you had Brendan Nelson saying that the economy was heading for a hard landing, Malcolm Turnbull saying the opposite.  What we actually need from the Liberal Party is some responsibility. 

That’s what we’ll see from the Prime Minister today – tackling the long-term challenges, climate change, tackling the inflation legacy left to the Government, modernising the economy.  That’s what the Government’s on about.

JOURNALIST:

Will there be anything new in his speech?  Can you give us a hint?

TREASURER:

The Prime Minister’s made it very clear that today he’s going to outline his long-term plans for the future.  That’s very important, very important at a time of global uncertainty.  Very important we have a strong Budget surplus.  Very important we don’t have irresponsible short-term politics from the Opposition. 

JOURNALIST:

How does increasing prices help inflation?

TREASURER:

The fact is that we have an inflation legacy.  Inflation is at a 16-year high.  That’s why the Government is tackling inflation.

JOURNALIST:

How does upping the prices of alcohol and cars help that inflationary problem?

TREASURER:

What we are doing is tackling inflation.  The IMF has recognised that.  The Budget that we brought down has put downward pressure on inflation.  Inflation has been fuelled in recent times by spikes in the oil price and so on.  That’s why we brought down the Budget that we did, and the Budget that we brought down is reducing taxation as a share of GDP in the economy, not increasing it.  It has reduced it.

JOURNALIST:

When do you expect to reap the rewards of the Five Point Plan on inflation?  When can that start taking effect?

TREASURER:

Well, tackling inflation has been something that we have put on the agenda from day one.  It hit a 16-year high in October and November and December last year.  Subsequently, it has been fuelled by spikes in the oil prices and so on.  So, we need to tackle that inflation legacy if we’re going to deal with the challenge of interest rates into the future.  It’s a long-term challenge because it took a long time to develop.  That’s why we need long-term plans for the future.  That’s why we need to modernise our economy, which will be what the Prime Minister is talking about today.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) What’s today all about, and haven’t we heard all this before?

TREASURER:

I think it’s important that the Prime Minister, from time to time, take the opportunity at venues like the Press Club to outline and update our plans for the future.  I think there’s a very stark contrast today between that and the short-termism and the opportunistic politics of the Opposition.

JOURNALIST:

Is this the economic statement, then, that Brendan Nelson called for?  Is it a response to his request?

TREASURER:

No, it’s not an economic statement.  We brought down an economic statement – the May 13 Budget – which is currently being vandalised in the Senate. And that Budget brought down a strong $22 billion surplus which is important in tackling inflationary pressures in the economy, important in providing the funds for investing in the future, and also important in providing the funds for investing in the future, and also important as a buffer against global uncertainty.  That’s why we need to get the Budget through the Senate.  There’s one economic statement the Opposition could make – let our statement through the Senate.

JOURNALIST:

A new report has found that education funding for public schools is slipping despite this Education Revolution.  Do you have any plans to boost funding, or what are you…?

TREASURER:

We’re already boosting funding for education.  That’s what our Trade Training Centres in school are all about.  That’s what the digital revolution is all about.  There is additional money flowing to schools but there is much more to be done.  We are also in a process of talking with the States about how we provide additional funding, particularly to disadvantaged schools. That’s fairly and squarely on the Government’s agenda.