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 Marius Benson

ABC News Radio

31 January 2011

SUBJECTS: Flood Rebuild

BENSON:

Mr Swan, good morning.

TREASURER:

Good morning Marius.

BENSON:

The Independents do sound a little unconvinced at first blush on this issue. They've raised a range of issues that they want to discuss. You say you're confident you'll get your way on the legislation. It's a professional requirement that you sound confident. Is there any reason to be confident?

TREASURER:

Well, we look forward to our talks with the crossbench and we would encourage them to back the legislation, it's so important to rebuild Queensland, it's so important to give all of those Queenslanders who've had their lives shattered, their businesses shattered, the confidence that the people of Australia are behind the rebuild.

BENSON:

Treasurer, there has been a degree of public opposition to the proposed levy since it was announced and you've made the point that it's a relatively light impost, are you surprised by the public reaction?

TREASURER:

Well, I was out and about at the cricket in Brisbane yesterday with the Prime Minister and the Premier and some of the reportage of that doesn't reflect the feeling that we were receiving talking to punters on the ground out there at the cricket.

But it is a modest levy - 60 per cent of tax payers will pay less than $1 a week and someone on $80,000 will pay $2.88 extra a week which is less than the cost of a cup of coffee.

BENSON:

One of the specific suggestions to come from an Independent is Tony Windsor's idea that he would like to see a permanent natural disaster fund established. The Prime Minister has already said no to that. You've ruled that out?

TREASURER:

Well, we've said we'll have a constructive discussion with the Independents about how we react to this in the longer term but at the moment our priority is dealing with the rebuilding and the immediate recovery. Now, most natural disasters in this country can be paid for within existing budget allocations, but this one has been unprecedented. In economic terms it will be the largest natural disaster in our history. So it's an extraordinary circumstance which requires a response in the short term, the medium term, and we're happy to have a conversation about the longer term.

BENSON:

One of the measures you're taking is to defer $1 billion in spending from Budget allocations and Warren Truss the Nationals Leader has made the point that he says all these deferrals are hitting non-government seats particularly in Queensland and it's a political exercise on your part.

TREASURER:

I think that's disgusting from Warren Truss, and just as the behaviour of the Leader of the Opposition has been shameful trying to use this as a political opportunity. Look, I've travelled around Queensland, I understand the areas that have been hit, and the areas that have been hit aren't characterised by who represents them politically. But many of the areas that have been hit and many of the members that we've been working with to respond in their communities have been from the Liberal and National Parties, and we certainly do not approach in our response to this disaster, we don't characterise that by the political affiliation of the electorate - I find that absolutely disgusting.

BENSON:

Tony Abbott says in a spirit of bipartisanship he is prepared to help you identify areas where you can cut spending. Do you embrace that spirit?

TREASURER:

Well, Tony Abbott took a series of spending cuts to the last election, $11 billion of those were declared fraudulent by the Department of Treasury and the Department of Finance. This is just a stunt.

BENSON:

Treasurer, I'll leave it there. Thank you very much.

TREASURER:

Good to be with you.