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

8 March 2011

Interview with Naomi Woodley

AM, ABC Radio

8 March 2011

SUBJECTS: Newspoll; Carbon Price

WOODLEY:

Wayne Swan, good morning, welcome to AM

TREASURER:

Good morning

WOODLEY:

Labor's primary vote has dropped to its lowest ever result in a Newspoll, and more people are now against putting a price on carbon than those who support it. What's gone wrong?

TREASURER:

Well, we are not doing this because it is easy, we are not doing it because it is popular, we are doing it because it is the right thing for the country. We always thought this would be a hard debate – big economic, social and environmental reforms have always been hard fought in this country, this one will be no different. Particularly as you have had an Opposition Leader who has fractured a bipartisan consensus on dealing with climate change and putting in place an emissions trading system - he will do anything to wreck action on climate change because he is a climate change sceptic.

WOODLEY:

But don't these figures show that you have mishandled this most recent debate on carbon pricing – you're not communicating your plan well enough to the Australian people?

TREASURER:

No, I think what they show is that it is a really tough debate, but big economic, social and environmental reforms are worth fighting for. It is a debate we can win, we have got to get the facts out there, and we've got to communicate with people about the fact that it's the big polluters that will be paying here, the revenue raised from the big polluters will go to households and industry.

WOODLEY:

This poll and others show that a significant number of people who feel betrayed by the Prime Minister's pre-election promise that her government would not introduce a carbon tax – how do you get past that?

TREASURER:

Well, because we have always argued for an emissions trading scheme, for a price on carbon. We took that to the 2007 Election, we took it to the 2010 Election. Indeed, John Howard took that very proposition to the 2007 Election. We have got to go out there and argue the case for fundamental reforms for a cleaner energy future.

WOODLEY:

Why did you decide to release the framework but then wait four to six months to fill in the details on price compensation? And don't you accept that that has created a void for the Opposition to make its argument?

TREASURER:

Tony Abbott will do anything to wreck action on climate change -

WOODLEY:

But you have given him the opportunity to do it.

TREASURER:

No, what we have to do is we have to work with the community. We have got to work through the Multi-Party Committee. We're doing that. We have got to consult with industry and the broader community. That's the way that big reforms have been done in this country and it is the way we are going to do this. This is not a short game, this is a long debate, the country deserves to be involved in a very thorough consideration of everything that is going to be done about this fundamental reform for a clean energy future and lower pollution.

WOODLEY:

But carbon tax aside, this poll shows that the public is warming to Tony Abbott he is closing the gap on the Prime Minister. How do you get around that?

TREASURER:

Well the fact it's simply one opinion poll. The fact is this is what we must do for our country to remain prosperous. They are always hard fought. This is a debate we can win because I think Australians fundamentally understand that we need to deal with carbon pollution and we need to do it in and economically and socially responsible way. And that's what we're doing

WOODLEY:

It's one opinion poll but it's a devastating opinion poll, well Labor's vote drop further as this debate goes on?

TREASURER:

What I know is that as we go through this debate, we put the facts before the Australian people, we deal with the fundamental economic and environmental challenges before us, the Australian people will support strong reform which guarantees future prosperity, which provides the jobs we need and the energy clean future our children deserve.

WOODLEY:

Julia Gillard's personal standing though has taken a large hit. More people are now saying they'd prefer Kevin Rudd to be back in charge of the Labor party. Is there any chance of that happening?

TREASURER:

Well as I said before, there are no easy or soft options when it comes to dealing with climate change, so we always thought that this would be a tough debate. Julia Gillard has got the guts to put in place the fundamental reforms which will secure our prosperity for the future.

WOODLEY:

Mr Swan, thanks for your time.

TREASURER:

Thank you.