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

2 May 2011

Interview with Alexandra Kirk

ABC Radio, AM

2 May 2011

SUBJECTS: Carbon Price; Australian Dollar

ANNOUNCER:

The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, says the Budget he will deliver next week will provide half a million new jobs by the middle of 2013, cutting the unemployment rate to 4.5 per cent. He's also hit back at claims the carbon tax will wipe out the steel industry, arguing that a surging Aussie dollar is a much bigger threat. Nevertheless he's rejected a demand from the Australian Workers Union calling for compensation for the carbon tax to be tied to the level of the dollar. Mr Swan told Alexandra Kirk the Treasury modelling isn't aimed at dampening expectations for industry assistance.

TREASURER:

Not at all. I think we should have a calm and informed debate in a rational way about these issues, about carbon pricing and what we need to do to protect future living standards and important industries such as our coal industry and iron and steel industry, but the fact is the impact of a carbon price on sectors such as coal, steel and others will be small compared to fluctuations in commodity prices and exchange rates.

KIRK:

So is the point you're making that steel manufacturers and other industries can easily afford a carbon tax?

TREASURER:

Look I understand that some of those industries are doing it really tough at the moment and the Government understands that and that's why we are having an informed discussion with them about carbon pricing.

KIRK:

So what's the point of the comparison?

TREASURER:

The point of the comparison is that Mr Abbott has been out there in a reckless way making all sorts of extreme statements about the future, ill informed and only designed to scare people and what I want to do through the presentation of the Economic Note is to inject some facts into the debate so the community can have an informed discussion.

KIRK:

He's not the only one though who is making critical statements, for example the head of the Australian Workers Union, Paul Howes, has been talking about the effect of a carbon tax on the steel industry. Is the Government…

TREASURER:

He's entitled to talk about the impact and we welcome that discussion. It's an entirely legitimate discussion to have and that's a discussion the Government is having with Mr Howes and also with employers in the industry, but what Mr Abbott is trying to do is to seek personal political advantage with an issue which is so important to our long-term prosperity and what I'm doing is putting out all of the facts on the table so people can judge what the relevant facts are.

KIRK:

Is the Government considering tying the treatment of some of these industries – steel aluminium, coal, cement, gas – tying the treatment of those industries under the carbon tax to the level of the Aussie dollar?

TREASURER:

No, and the note that I've put out doesn't suggest that at all. I'm simply making a very simple point that there have been dramatic movements in the value of the dollar and dramatic movements in terms of prices for basic commodities. They have a far greater impact on these industries than a potential carbon price. That doesn't mean to say a carbon price is not a serious issue with which we should debate and take into account when we're forming public policy but we do need to have an informed debate.