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

31 January 2011

Interview with The Grill Team

Radio Triple M, Sydney

31 January 2011

SUBJECTS: Flood Recovery

HOCKEY:

If you urge people to donate, if you urge people to volunteer and people are very generous and then you go and hit them with a tax afterwards it sends a horrible message at a later time when you go back and ask them to donate and be generous and they're sitting back waiting to be taxed they may not be so generous.

ANNOUNCER:

Now, this is The Grill Team Wayne, we like to make sure there is always a right of reply. We spoke to the Prime Minister's people on Friday. They couldn't get on. However this morning we're very fortunate to have Treasurer Wayne Swan. He is on the line now -- as a right of reply to what Joe Hockey said. G'day Wayne.

TREASURER:

G'day, how are you going?

ANNOUNCER:

Good thanks.

TREASURER:

And by the way thanks for all of your efforts with the game the other night, that's just fantastic and the cricket yesterday was spectacular.

ANNOUNCER:

Nice of you to say mate. That's very kind of you. You heard what Joe Hockey said. What would you like to say to The Grill Team listeners to counter that?

TREASURER:

Well, it's just not one or the other. I mean all of those generous donations are really needed. They're really needed to help people rebuild their lives, to rebuild their households. What the levy is about is rebuilding the communities, all of the essential infrastructure that's been destroyed – the roads, the rail, the schools, all of those things. We need to do both. We need an extraordinary response from people because this is a disaster of unprecedented proportions and the money that will be spent from the levy is something like thirty times the amount of money that is in the Premier's fund.

So we've got to do both and of course the levy is a very small amount of money – 60 per cent of taxpayers will pay less than $1 per week. You know, if you're on $80,000 a year, it's $2.88, which is less than a cup of coffee.

ANNOUNCER:

Well, Wayne, no one is saying, obviously the money needs to go there. There have been plenty of other options floated. I know one thing Joe Hockey mentioned as well was the potential to have another look at the NBN. Also one thing I've heard going around is returning the budget to surplus, you know, you could look at delaying that for a couple of years. You know, why is the government not looking at these options?

TREASURER:

Well, two things there, because if we stop building the NBN tomorrow it wouldn't provide the amount of money to fund this sort of flood reconstruction. Now that's just a furphy. But secondly, it's very important to come back to surplus in 2012/13 because that's the right thing by the economy. The economy is going to be very strong then. We need to keep our public finances strong because you just never know what's coming down the track. So we should pay as we go. But this is a relatively small impost to help deal with what is an unprecedented natural disaster. We haven't had anything like this in our history.

ANNOUNCER:

We're on the phone with Treasurer Wayne Swan, we appreciate his time. We've got a gentleman by the name of Michael from Ingleburn, one of our listeners Wayne, and he'd like to ask you a question. Michael, throw your question to the Treasurer please.

CALLER:

Yeah Wayne, I'd like to know why Australia doesn't redirect all foreign aid and direct it to Queensland and Melbourne and northern New South Wales?

TREASURER:

Well, because what we pay in foreign aid is money which actually helps our country interact with the rest of the world. We've got to continue with the foreign aid program just like we've got to provide the resources to our own country and, of course these things have swings and roundabouts. We're getting lots of offers of help from overseas on this occasion just as we've offered to help other people on other occasions.

ANNOUNCER:

Thanks Wayne. We really thank you Mr Swan, for your time on The Grill Team this morning. You've been comprehensive. One question I suppose that all Grill Team listeners want to know is can you drive the Chevy to the levy?

TREASURER:

(Laughs)

ANNOUNCER:

That is ridiculous. You're talking to the Treasurer of Australia.

ANNOUNCER:

You've got to smile about it and you've got to have a bit of a laugh.

TREASURER:

It's a great song.

ANNOUNCER:

Good on you. Thanks a lot. That's Treasurer Wayne Swan.