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

28 January 2011

Interview with Eddie Mcguire and Luke Darcy

Radio Triple M, Melbourne

28 January 2011

SUBJECTS: Flood Rebuild

MCGUIRE:

Alright, let's get to the man himself, Wayne Swan, who is who we're speaking to. He's the Treasurer of Australia. He has done the financial modelling on this. Good morning, Wayne.

TREASURER:

Good morning, Eddie.

MCGUIRE:

Wayne, we took extensive calls between 6 and 7 o'clock and 100 per cent of our callers were in favour of the levy. You've heard our callers so far this morning. I noticed with interest last night that a lot of the televisions were basically reading the press release from the Liberal Party. There wasn't much questioning about it at all last night, but their polls were coming a different way. Maybe people are siding with the philosophy of the show on this issue. But can you outline to us, Wayne, the big issues for us. Is it definitely 12 months? Is it enough? A lot of our people are saying – look, we'd rather pay more in the first instance. And have you left yourself a little bit of room in case it blows out?

TREASURER:

Well, look it is a modest levy – 50 per cent of taxpayers will pay less than a dollar. And some of those people that are ringing in to TV stations to record their judgment are paying 55 cents to do that.

MCGUIRE:

Good point.

DARCY:

Good line.

TREASURER:

60 per cent of taxpayers will pay less than a dollar [a week]. What we are trying to do is to be balanced here, Eddie. We have gone for expenditure cuts and changes in priorities in the budget as well – two thirds of the $5.6 billion comes from that, and one third - $1.8 [billion] comes from the levy.

I've been criticised this morning talking to be people for having a levy, and others saying it is too small. What we've got to do is just strike the right balance. It was also important, you're right, people are suffering right now, Queensland needs the certainty. I think Australians understand that when work needs doing you have to share. So the levy is part of that, but it's a modest levy. We absolutely recognise that many people out there do it tough and find it hard, but in terms of tax cuts that we have given over the last three budgets, this levy is a very modest proportion of those cuts for people.

MCGUIRE:

Also when you throw in the baby boomer bonus from Peter Costello and the stimulus package – it is just about our shout. I mean, we've got to give a little bit back. I think we've done pretty well.

You see, I hate little piddly tax cuts – I rather the government keep it and have a fund going forward to either build infrastructure, or for this type of thing. Wayne, it is an easy pork-barrelling thing to come at with tax cuts. I think the Australian public are ready for a bit of leadership to say – hang on, we're a lap and a half ahead of the rest of the world at the moment, let's put the boot down and really go hard. Is that something you are going to think about going forward?

TREASURER:

Well, we've got to do both, we've got to do both. When people work really hard, they have got to have some incentive to do it. So we've got to make sure that our tax system stays in good shape and give people the incentive. On the other hand, you are right, we have got to build the infrastructure, we've got to build the Australia of the future, we've got to make the investments which can make our economy stronger, and we stand out already because we backed stimulus. We have had strong employment growth. So what we have decided to do here is to keep the economy strong. It's important to fund this properly. It's important to have strong public finances when we are creating jobs, but also we know now the extra challenge is to rebuild Queensland and that is why we have gone for the package that we have.

DARCY:

Wayne, it's Luke Darcy. The figure that we're hearing is $5.6 billion. From your experience, how accurate does that normally be? Or is there going to be a situation in 12 months time where you are coming back and go – oh look, we just undercooked that, it's an extra $3 billion here? Do you think you've got it right?

TREASURER:

Luke, it will be swings and roundabouts mate. I mean, if you have been up here and you go around the communities that have been affected, it's going to take a long time to get a completely accurate handle on everything. What we have done working with the reconstruction authority and the Queensland Government, is come up with our best estimate, but there will be swings and roundabouts in the middle of all of that.

MCGUIRE:

Well, there is a chance here, because there will be a lot of crap up there in Queensland and Northern Victoria that needed replacing, here's a chance – new for old, get in, fix it up, and line these places up for the next few years. Chris, quickly, we've got the Treasurer for a couple more minutes, you've got your say – Chris from Altona.

CALLER:

Good morning guys. I'm just wondering Wayne, is that going to be taken out weekly, or at the end of the financial year as one large sum?

TREASURER:

No, it will be taken out weekly, but those people who have been affected by the floods will be able to put in a form, if you like, and not have it taken out because we are going to exempt those people that are flood affected. It will be paid weekly.

MCGUIRE:

So Chris, it will come out like your tax every other week.

CALLER:

Oh, that's excellent.

MCGUIRE:

Ross from Croydon, your go.

CALLER:

Yeah mate, look Wayne, good thing here. We need to do it, absolutely agree 100 per cent, levies, it's got to be done. Only concern is that it be administered properly and not turn into an insulation debacle or a schools building program debacle. The money needs to go where the money needs to go, it doesn't need to go to a lot of contractor's pockets. Fair call?

TREASURER:

Well, certainly we're going to work with the reconstruction authority, it's going to be modelled on the Victorian bushfire reconstruction authority. We've got a very good man running it, we've got good representation on it, and we are absolutely determined to see that it's all transparent.

But could I just make a point, the Building the Education Revolution played a pretty important role in supporting tradies and small business at a very difficult time. We absolutely understand the need for value for money and for scrutiny of what we are doing.

MCGUIRE:

Wayne, in this situation we need a firm hand and leadership from the government. That's what we are calling for. Don't worry about all this consensus nonsense and one thing you will have to learn from the Victorian bushfire relief thing is that too many people are in there having too much say and there was a lot of conversations and at times there was a lack of activity. Lindsay Fox –

TREASURER:

Can I tell you, sitting around the table we've got some people who've learned those lessons, and they are all part and parcel of getting this response together.

MCGUIRE:

Good on you mate. Well, Lindsay Fox is one of them and he saw all the frustrations. You've got him on board, and if you listen to big Linds and I think you will cut a lot of the rubbish out of the way. So good luck with it, Wayne.

TREASURER:

Okay. Thanks very much.

MCGUIRE:

Good on you.