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

16 October 2008

Interview with Tony Squires, Mikey Robbins & Rebecca Wilson

Vega FM, Sydney

16 October 2008

SUBJECTS: Global Financial Crisis, G20, Economic Security Strategy

SQUIIRES:

We’re joined by Treasurer, Wayne Swan.  Morning, Treasurer.

TREASURER:

Morning.

SQUIIRES:

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for you, hasn’t it?

TREASURER:

It’s certainly been that.  I’ve been to the United States and back.  I feel I’ve been around the world about three times, actually.

SQUIIRES:

Did you, like Delta Goodrem, get to ring the bell at the Wall Street stock market there?

TREASURER:

No, I didn’t get to ring the bell, but I think there was something much more dramatic happening.  The market actually, later in the day, hit the floor.

ROBBINS:

Actually, Treasurer, the look on your face as you were wandering around the floor at Wall Street was one of the indicators that it was going to be a pretty tough meeting.  The Prime Minister, at the Press Club lunch yesterday, said there was a pretty free and frank exchange when you returned from New York.   Was it one of the toughest meetings you’ve ever had to go through?

TREASURER:

It was more than a free and frank exchange.  Some of the meetings that I had in both New York and Washington were very sombre and brave.  There were world leaders who were talking about how the world had simply changed, and they were then dealing with dramatic problems at home.  In fact, a number of them had to leave in the middle of the meetings to go home.  The whole world is a completely different place from what it was three weeks ago in terms of the international economy, and that did leave a lasting impression on me.

WILSON:

Wayne, when you came into power – which wasn’t that long ago – was there any inkling at all that this was what was lying ahead?

TREASURER:

No, this first began back last August then it receded.  But in January, February and March there was some very significant episodes internationally which culminated in the rescue of Bear Stearns.  Fortunately at that stage, it stabilised.  But I became very aware through that period of how potentially serious this could be, and particularly when I was in the States in April for the IMF meetings as well.  I had a lunch at the Embassy with a number of people from financial markets and they made the point to me then, as others had made it to the Prime Minister at that time, that this wasn’t the end, it was the beginning.  The Government then began the preparations for dealing with this should the worst come to pass – and sadly it has.

SQUIIRES:

Wayne, you’d be very surprised that the Daily Telegraph’s Piers Akerman and Julie Bishop are suddenly thinking with the same brain…

TREASURER:

Well, they’ll be a good couple.

WILSON:

Don’t make me think about it.

TREASURER:

I’ll congratulate Piers next time I see him.

SQUIIRES:

Well, what he said today is that with your rescue package that he seems to be missing the documents, and forecasting documents.  He wants papers.

TREASURER:

Yes, well he’ll get the papers.  He’ll get them in the next month.  We always publish a mid-year economic update.  But what they all seem to be saying is: don’t act if you think there’s a big problem down the track, wait for it to happen.

ROBBINS:

Actually, speaking of acting, are we now looking at a future where governments are going to be taking a far more active role in the fiscal nature of our economies?

WILSON:

Oh, go Mikey.

TREASURER:

Too right.  Too right you are.  When George Bush starts nationalising banks you’re certainly looking at that.

WILSON:

I’m a little bit concerned every time I see George Bush come up from those potted plants on that dais at the moment, because he’s only got about 15 minutes left in the job, and dead set, thank god for that.

TREASURER:

Well, it’s pretty interesting, because you see we have been calling for a meeting of the G20 – and there wasn’t one called when I arrived in Washington – there was just the IMF meetings and the G7.  One was called during the day and then George Bush actually turned up.  I took encouragement from that because what it did was, I think, signal to particularly emerging countries and countries outside of Europe that the United States was going to be a much bigger player in solving these problems, not just at home but globally.

SQUIIRES:

Wayne, it’s obviously early days, but what is your feeling about what the package has done and where we are placed right now?

TREASURER:

It’s not just one thing.  It’s the package that will boost the economy that we put out the other day, it’s the Reserve Bank action a week ago, and it’s all those things that we’ve done to try to stabilise the financial system.  They all work together and they do need to work in tandem, which is why we’ve moved so swiftly.

SQUIIRES:

Wayne Swan, great to talk to you.  Thanks so much for joining us on Vega 95.3.

TREASURER:

Good to talk to you.