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

18 December 2008

Interview with Liam, Vanessa and Tanya

Radio 96.5 FM
Brisbane

18 December 2008

SUBJECTS: Global Financial Crisis, Christmas, Job as Treasurer

PRESENTER:

Wayne Swan and his wife, Kim, good morning. Thank you for coming in.

PRESENTER:

Hello.

PRESENTER:

Thank you for coming in. Merry Christmas, guys. Thanks for coming in.

TREASURER:

It's great to be here and I'll take the opportunity to have a good chat with Kim.

PRESENTER:

You must be almost the busiest man in the country. There's a lot on all the time and how do you fit it all in?

TREASURER:

Well, it's been pretty hectic. There's no doubt about the last 12 months or so, particularly after the election at the end of last year, and being sworn in and getting to know a new portfolio.

A new government setting the directions, has involved a lot of hard work. And of course on top of all that, we've had the global financial crisis. So, yes, it's been really busy, but it's been incredibly rewarding. The thing about political life is that if you can make a difference then there are immense rewards in what you do, and I think that's the way you've got to look at it. I think over the last 12 months, hopefully, we have made a difference. We've certainly been very true to our word in terms of implementing our promises and so on, but also dealing with a lot of these very difficult problems that are floating around the world. So, it's taken up a lot of time, and it's really involved a lot of travel. But Kim's been pretty tolerant and the kids have been pretty good through all of that, and the one thing that we're really hanging out for is, hopefully, a quiet Christmas at home on the back deck just relaxing.

PRESENTER:

How many days of the week, Kim, is your husband away? How often do you get to see him?

KIM:

He's away about six on average.

PRESENTER:

Six days a week he's away! Wow, so this must be really special for you. You've got the day together and you're spending it with us. Thank you very much.

PRESENTER:

How lovely.

TREASURER:

Kim's going down to do Meals on Wheels at Golden Years down at Nundah and I think I'm going there too because they've got a new rainwater tank which I've got to have a look at. And we're going out to do some things with St Vincent de Paul down, I think, in Brighton later on. So, it's going to be one of those local days. But whether we catch up to have a talk in the middle of that, I'm not quite sure. I think the office over in Nundah has got a few things planned for me today.

PRESENTER:

While we've got you here, and we don't get people of your calibre very often, we've got a list of questions a mile long, we've got a few each. So, I'll just start a few rapid fire. You're a coast boy like myself, you're from Nambour and I'm from Palmwoods. We're neighbours but enemies at the same time.

TREASURER:

Those Palmwoods people. I used to play for Souths Rugby League which used to be based in Woombye and there's a bit of rivalry there.

PRESENTER:

I didn't like Woombye either.

TREASURER:

No, I know you didn't.

PRESENTER:

That's right.

PRESENTER:

It doesn't sound like a very nice region.

PRESENTER:

No, it's a lovely area. We just have a chip on our shoulder because (inaudible) lovely region.

PRESENTER:

Now, let's talk about pecking orders for a second. Where do you sit in terms of running the country? Just to clarify this, there's Kevin at the top then where do you come directly in order of that sort of list of running the show?

TREASURER:

There is a pecking order and I would come in as number three.

PRESENTER:

That's pretty good.

TREASURER:

Yes.

PRESENTER:

So, you're the Prince Harry of Australian politics.

TREASURER:

Well, whatever you like. I don't mind.

PRESENTER:

You've got three children…

TREASURER:

There is that number three again!

PRESENTER:

There you go. The youngest is still only 14. How does he go with having a dad in federal politics? Does he, you know, when things go a bit belly up with the economy, does he cop any flack from his mates at school?

TREASURER:

I think he cops a bit of sledging from time to time but I think, by and large, people are really good. What I've found over quite a few years as a local member is that generally people are really good and they don't necessarily vent their frustrations or political opposition in any sort of nasty way. There's the odd person that does. But I think back about the number of incidents that might have occurred over a long period of time, by and large, people are pretty good, and I think that's the case with the kids as well.

PRESENTER:

(inaudible) before you became Treasurer, did things become a little more intense obviously when you sort of got to that position?

TREASURER:

Certainly, it's become much, much more intense and of course now wherever you go in the country you get recognised, so there is no way you can go without being recognised. But by and large, I really enjoy people coming up, having a chat, talking about things. If they've got a different point of view, that's fine. And generally, I find people are very civil in expressing their opposition to what you're doing, not just their support. And I think that's one of the great things about political life in Australia that leading politicians can still move around relatively freely and talk to people in environments where people are comfortable to talk. There are many other parts of the world where it's just simply not possible for security reasons or for the fact that there are entrenched divisions in those societies that make that more difficult. So, I think that's one of…

PRESENTER:

Is it (inaudible) these days now that you've got the job as the Treasurer you've got to look after them or shield them from stuff in the media?

KIM:

Not at all. Mattie's actually not the kind of boy that really (inaudible). He's got a good little personality and he just shrugs it off. And it's always … involved in the music industry so they've got their own profiles.

PRESENTER:

Do you have your own personal bodyguards these days? Now that you're in that job do you get your own sort of secret service?

PRESENTER:

Liam's looking for some part-time…

PRESENTER:

It looks like he could do a pretty handy job.

PRESENTER:

Do you get your own minder, do you have your own driver who will look after you on the way?

TREASURER:

No, I don't have a permanent driver. I don't have a permanent security detail either, and that's a great thing. I do sometimes when I travel overseas, there will be a security arrangement put in place depending on where you are and what you're doing. But generally, not here. The Prime Minister does. But, no, I don't and that's great.

PRESENTER:

Because Prince Harry doesn't either. I know that Charles does…

TREASURER:

Yeah, but he's got all those weapons.

PRESENTER:

We're going to come back with more. The Swans are our special guests on the show this morning. We've got some cooking questions for how you're going to spend Christmas Day which we'll get to.

(break)

PRESENTER:

This is the Family Show this morning. We're very lucky to have the Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and his wife, Kim, joining us live in the studio this morning. Not much of a break for you around Christmas time but you get to spend some time with the kids obviously this Christmas by the sounds of it?

TREASURER:

I've been really hanging out for a few days at home sitting on the back deck, catching up with the kids, playing a bit of cricket with Matthew at the practice wicket across the road at the school, getting together with the girls, listening to their music, and just really chilling out, basically. I'm really looking forward to that.

PRESENTER:

Kim Swan, is it a roast or a barbie on Christmas Day?

KIM:

This year it's a challenge because we've got a daughter who's become a vegetarian, her boyfriend's also a vegetarian and my brother is a vegetarian…

PRESENTER:

Mmmm…roast tofu.

KIM:

No.

PRESENTER:

Actually, I was in Canada recently and the big thing was to-furkey, an alternative to turkey. I didn't try it.

PRESENTER:

Who cooks on Christmas Day? Whose responsibility is what?

KIM:

I do it. It's a terrible challenge, Christmas in our home, because Wayne's mum, traditionally, always made potato cakes to go with the Christmas roast and every year I try to make them just as good as his mum, but every year I fail.

PRESENTER:

Doesn't happen at all.

TREASURER:

I sit there sort of tasting and supervising, saying I don't think you've quite got it!

KIM:

Vanessa asked the other day, oh no I'll let you ask Vanessa yourself, your turkey question.

PRESENTER:

Oh yeah, I mean as the Federal Treasurer, how much are you willing to pay for a turkey? I think that the prices might have been upped a little bit this year.

TREASURER:

Well, we don't normally have a turkey.

PRESENTER:

How organised are you, Wayne? Have you bought the kid's presents yet? Like, are they all wrapped up under the bed…

TREASURER:

…as yet but today I'm out and about, so I reckon at some stage I'll probably get over to the Chermside shops and…

PRESENTER:

Good luck.

TREASURER:

Yeah, I know, I know. All the parking, I know what it will be like.

PRESENTER:

Can't you get someone to just drop you off? Circle around?

TREASURER:

All of that, yeah.

PRESENTER:

Now, while we've got you here we see that Kevin Rudd, obviously the Prime Minister's been overseas at the moment. He's over in Afghanistan, wasn't it, we hear this morning? He'll be back for Christmas. He travels quite a lot. Do you get away yourself? Are you overseas? How many times a year do you get away?

TREASURER:

Well unfortunately, I have had to travel quite a bit this year because of what's going on in the international financial circles. I've been to the IMF World Bank meetings a couple of times, there was a G8 meeting in Osaka in Japan I went to. And of course, the Prime Minister and I attended the special G20 Leaders' Meeting in Washington only a month ago. That was also preceded by a meeting of Finance Ministers from the G20 in Brazil. So, because of what's been going on internationally, it was very important to be at all those meetings.

PRESENTER:

What's he like to travel with? Does he take his socks off on the plane? Do you actually sit next to each other? Do you get along as travel buddies?

PRESENTER:

Is he just like talk, talk, talk?

TREASURER:

Actually, we get along as travel buddies quite a bit because we've spent a lot of time in the air together, not necessarily on the international trips. We didn't fly on the same flights here, but we certainly travel a lot together nationally around Australia. I'll probably be on the plane with him early next week. That's a great opportunity, actually, to have a decent conversation about what's going on, free from the telephone and all those other things that can really interrupt. And I've found, and I'm sure he's found, that that's one of the best ways to actually get some quiet time to have a good talk, which you don't necessarily get when everybody else is around.

PRESENTER:

Now, I don't know if this is something you want to reveal publicly, but on your international flights if you had the choice of beef, chicken or fish what would you go for?

TREASURER:

I always go for fish.

PRESENTER:

Okay, for me that's the dangerous option. I think so. You've got a little bit more chance of…

TREASURER:

No, no.

PRESENTER:

You don't think?

PRESENTER:

You probably don't know his schedule for tomorrow, but we've actually invited him along to our Free Food Friday, this is the Prime Minister we're talking about, we had a tentative yes from him. Do you know if he's going to be back in the country, available for the free giveaway tomorrow morning?

TREASURER:

I don't, but I will try and find out. But no, I'm not aware of it.

PRESENTER:

We'd love to have you there as well, too, if you've got some spare time. It's 75 tonne of free food, no pressure or anything but it would be nice to…

PRESENTER:

Bring your shopping bag.

TREASURER:

The problem is I've got a program in Canberra tomorrow. I'm not going to be here tomorrow. But I'll check on his whereabouts.

PRESENTER:

On a very serious note, I know the girls are too embarrassed to ask this question so they've handed it over to me, we've now renamed the Queensland Premier, Botox Bligh after last night's news story.

PRESENTER:

Can I correct that, he has named her Botox Bligh.

PRESENTER:

Vanessa gave me the name!

TREASURER:

Just give me a good look at your profile there.

PRESENTER:

Just feel free to be as honest as you can, have you ever had any botox?

TREASURER:

No, I have never had any.

PRESENTER:

What do you think about Anna's decision to go ahead with it?

TREASURER:

I think it's fine, and I'm sure most people out there who were watching the news last night thought that as well, and they'd say what are they on about?

PRESENTER:

As she said, it's not an election breaker is it, it's just something that gave people a bit of a giggle this morning. In 2009, where are we headed? What's happening next year?

TREASURER:

Well, 2009 will be a really difficult year in the international economy and that's going to bring a lot of challenges for Australia. And both the Prime Minister and myself have been very straight with the Australian people about those difficulties and what we need to do in the face of it, and what we do need to do is we need to concentrate on the things that we can control given that so many things that are happening internationally are things we can't control. So, we've spent a lot of time talking to the Australian people about that challenge and things that we can do in the face of it. And that's very much going to preoccupy our thoughts all the way through Christmas and into the New Year, making sure that we do our best to prepare the country for the shock that's out there. Having said that, given what's going on internationally, there's probably no other country in the world you'd want to be in than Australia in these circumstances.

PRESENTER:

What would you say to your average family listening today, mum and dad, what sort of things can we be doing now to give (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

…moving in to stimulate their economies, to assist households and to assist businesses, and our Government is determined to do that. We've been doing that through a series of initiatives over the last couple of months, and as we go through next year we'll talk to the Australian people about that. We have many things going for us, we shouldn't forget that. What we have to do is make sure that we prepare ourselves as best we possibly can, and I guess that goes for households as it goes for governments. And we're determined to work with households which is why we put out our economic stimulus package which is certainly assisting households and many of those people who are doing it tough, who have been doing it tough right throughout the last year. Giving them a bit extra in the lead up to Christmas is very important, lifting a bit of the demand in the economy is important, and making sure next year we get on with important nation building tasks which, if you like, can fill the gap left by what's occurring internationally in terms of demand. The Government's determined to do that, and we'll do that working with Australian households and businesses.

PRESENTER:

Before we let you go, Wayne, the best part of your job, what do you love most about being the Federal Treasurer?

TREASURER:

What I love most about it is being able to make a difference and doing some of those things that I think the country should have been doing for some time. You know, making sure we put in place the essential foundations of a decent education, getting in place those long-term settings that will matter for our kids and for our grandkids. So, not just dealing with the here and now, although that's very important given what's going on, but putting in place some long-term policies, whether it's in education or health or infrastructure, a set of policies which will set the country up for the future because, you know, we are the best country in the world and we've got the best possibilities in the world and being a good international citizen in the middle of all of that is also pretty important.

PRESENTER:

Thank you and your wife for coming in today. We know you're busy and we really appreciate you coming in live. And I noticed your wife eyeing off our snow dome collection as you walked in, we've got 700 snow domes here, you travel a bit overseas so we thought we might try and recruit you right now, next time you're overseas, any chance, if it's cheap, if it's tacky…

TREASURER:

We are going to be in Washington in…

PRESENTER:

I don't think we've got a Washington. We'd love one!

TREASURER:

Have you got one from New York?

PRESENTER:

A few, but we'd love a few more.

TREASURER:

Well, there you go!

PRESENTER:

We don't mind repetition.

PRESENTER:

We'd love to add it to the collection. And to you and your wife and your family, have a Merry Christmas and thank you so much for coming in. We appreciate your time, and nice to meet you face to face.

TREASURER:

It's good to be here and I hope we talk again.

PRESENTER:

Thank you so much and have a great time.