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

10 May 2010

Doorstop Interview

Parliament House

10 May 2010

SUBJECTS: Budget 2010; Resource Super Profits Tax; opinion polls; Joe Hockey and Coalition spending record

TREASURER:

Good to be with you. The Budget is off to the printers. This is a Budget which will build for the future on the strength of recent successes. Australia avoided recession. It's the strongest growing advanced economy. We avoided what so many other countries experienced which was prolonged and high unemployment, and many business closures. The strength with which we came through the global recession is a strength which will serve us well as we move forward, and we will convert enduring gains from that success into opportunities for Australia well into the future.

So in terms of the Budget, what you will see is the imposition of very strict fiscal rules. We will put in place the biggest reforms to [health and hospitals] since [Medicare's] introduction. What we will see is the support for small business through cuts to taxation, and what we will also see is reforms to superannuation.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, is this the Budget to save the Government's bacon?

TREASURER:

This is a very important Budget. This is a responsible Budget. What you will see is long-term reform. You know, there are many countries around the world that are on a white-knuckle ride at the moment. What you will see here with this Budget is a very steady Budget which puts in place essential reform for the future. As I said, very big reforms to health, support for superannuation savings of all Australians, very important.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, your speedier return to surplus will in part depend on the $9 billion from the Super Profits Tax. And it's looking increasingly unlikely that tax will get through. Doesn't it make any claims of a quicker return to surplus rather dubious?

TREASURER:

Well Malcolm, I'll just take you through what we announced over a week ago. What we announced was a package of reforms in resource taxation, and the monies that flowed from that were to be invested in cutting taxation, in cutting company tax, in giving an investment boost and a tax boost to small business. The monies were to be used in terms of investment in superannuation for all Australians.

So the monies that flow from the Resource Super Profits Tax will go into the savings accounts of eight million workers. They will go to cutting taxation for 2.4 million small businesses and, of course, they will go to investment in infrastructure.

And I made the point that day that those investments in cutting tax for all companies and investing it in superannuation were dependent upon the revenues that flowed from the Resource Super Profits Tax and its passage through the Parliament. So I don't accept the very premise of your question at all.

JOURNALIST:

If it's so great though, why do more people oppose it than support it in the latest poll? Has this been a failure of the Government to sell it properly?

TREASURER:

Look I don't - and the Government doesn't - govern by opinion polls, Michelle. We do what's right for the country, and the Government clearly articulated the case for a resource Super Profits Tax. We said this…

JOURNALIST:

But it's not getting through?

TREASURER:

Well, we haven't put the legislation to the Parliament yet.

JOURNALIST:

No it's not getting through to (inaudible).

TREASURER:

Well, opinion polls Michelle, will come and go. What we have put here is a very important proposition for Australia, to invest in the superannuation accounts of over 8 million workers, to cut company tax for over 2.4 million small businesses, and also to cut company tax across the board. Very important measures, very important measures to ensure that there is investment in the Australian economy to ensure that the fruits of mining are spread more smoothly right across the Australian economy.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, if it's such a great idea then why is it that voters appear to be turning their backs on Labor?

TREASURER:

Look opinion polls come and go. What Governments have to do is that they have to do the right thing for the long-term, to make the necessary investments for the future, and put in place responsible economic policies.

Responsible economic policies, when you look at other countries around the world you can see that there are still risks in the international economy, and there is a patchy outlook. I note, for example, that the IMF has issued a statement this morning in relation to Greece. We are in constant contact with our regulators about what is going on in overseas markets and countries such as Greece. The point I want to make is this: what Australia demonstrated during the global recession is that we are the strongest growing advanced economy.

We are the strongest growing advanced economy because the Government put in place a timely stimulus, and worked in cooperation with employers and employees and produced an outcome of the strongest growing advanced economy, with an unemployment rate of 5.3 per cent. In the United States unemployment is almost ten per cent. In countries in Europe it is around 16 per cent. Those countries are wading through the rubble of a deep and prolonged recession caused by the global financial crisis. Here in this country we did not experience that, and because we did not experience that, because the Government put in place responsible economic policies to deal with the impact of the global financial crisis and the global recession, we are now in a position of strength to weather whatever comes in terms of international economic events. But most importantly to build for the future, to put in place the necessary investments for the future by investing in the superannuation of eight million workers, by giving a tax cut to 2.4 million small businesses, by supporting infrastructure, and by reforming our health system. We are doing all of those things because we're building for the future on the strength of our success during the global recession.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, is Joe Hockey right when he says that real spending in this Budget will be five per cent and not two [per cent]?

TREASURER:

Well, we've got a two per cent spending cap as you're aware. We're imposing that as part of the disciplines we put in place during our Budget last year, and we're applying that in the Budget this year.

I think in the last five Howard budgets their real spending was four per cent. Now, if you take Mr Hockey's rules that he's just enunciated, his new rules – very sloppy of him really – essentially what the Liberals would have been doing according to Mr Hockey, was that they would have had spending at seven per cent in their last five Budgets. You know Joe has really got to stop bowling those under-armers. They're getting pretty embarrassing. Thanks.