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Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

17 May 2011

Doorstop Interview

Kenworth Truck Factory, Bayswater

17 May 2011

SUBJECTS: Budget 2011-12; Manufacturing Industry; Carbon Price; Social Housing; Tobacco

TREASURER:

Well, it's great to be here with Mike Symon and Laura Smyth, two of our hard working local representatives in the area and it's great to be here at a fantastic Australian manufacturing success story – Kenworth trucks. You can see the quality, and I tell you what it's a real buzz when you get up there at that wheel. These manufacturing facilities here are world class and what we've seen today is what Australians can do when they get their market right, when they get their manufacturing right, when they get their training right, and when they apply the sort of innovation that we see here today.

This is as really important Australian success story for manufacturing. This company manufactures this product here. Many of their competitors have a degree of manufacturing but not to the extent that we see here today, and they're expanding. They're going from six trucks a day to around nine trucks a day in the next couple of months. There's something like 700 workers here now and there's going to be a lot more in the future as they go through that expansion, and they're doing that despite the headwinds of a higher Australian dollar. And what that shows is that even in our patchwork economy firms like this can succeed if they get the fundamentals right and that's what our Budget is all about, getting the fundamentals right, coming back to surplus in 2012-13, and making sure that we train a bigger and better work force.

The success here – talking to Joe Rizzo who has been here for 30 years, who runs this factory – is the way in which they train their workforce, and training their workforce is the key to producing the excellence and the product that you see here today. And really that's what the Budget's about, making sure we train our workforce for the jobs for the future. Mining boom mark II has a very big investment pipeline and what it's going to mean is not just more jobs directly in mining but more jobs which are created in industries which service the mining industry, and the transport industry services the mining industry and trucks like those here today are going to be in even bigger demand as we go forward. So that's why it's good to be here today, to see what we can really do, how we can take advantage and maximise the opportunities that are coming from that really strong investment pipeline. That's why it was good to be out here today with our two hard working local members and to talk to all of those that are responsible for this great Australian success story.

SYMON:

Thank you, Wayne. It's great to be out here at Kenworth today. Kenworth to me represents jobs in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. It's particularly important, it's a big employer, to see that they're increasing their output, increasing their employment over the next few months. It's a wonderful thing not only for my electorate in Deakin but all the surrounding electorates as well. It means real jobs. It's a real benefit to our local economy. Thank you.

SMYTHE:

It's really marvellous to be here at Kenworth today. It's certainly an example of a business which is supporting its workers and certainly supporting the skilling up of workers and I know that that's something that the Government is also very much focused on. In my electorate we're certainly focusing on apprenticeships and skilling up of up to 2,500 young people. Those are great opportunities and we're certainly seeing those sorts of opportunities mirrored at local businesses such as this, which have supported both workers and other local industry, and I'm very pleased to be able to be here today.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, Tony Abbott's down in Geelong at the Ford factory as well. Are you on the same hymn sheet?

TREASURER:

Well, there's a big difference between Tony Abbott and the Government, and that is this: the Government's got an economic plan for the future, he does not. And he doesn't have one because he's simply not capable of developing one. The fact is that we have got an Opposition Leader who probably for the first time in our history, we have an Opposition Leader who has decided not to have an alternative economic policy. Consider that for a moment. Consider the great challenges that we face in the future. Consider the need we have to create jobs. Consider the fact we're going to have 500,000 jobs in the next couple of years. Consider the fact that this Government in its first term in office has seen 700,000 jobs created and Tony Abbott doesn't want to talk about them or doesn't want to make them the centrepiece of economic plan, and indeed says he's not going to have one. The reason he hasn't got one is he's not capable of developing one.

JOURNALIST:

He's probably going to be mentioning something about the prospects for that factory under a carbon tax. Greg Combet is this morning defending suggestions of a $40 price. How would such a cost affect this factory?

TREASURER:

Well, the problem for Mr Abbott is running around the country chanting 'no, we can't, we can't do anything'. He doesn't have any plans for the future. Firms like this here today need the certainty, need the certainty of a government policy framework that they can invest in. And with Mr Abbott there is no certainty about anything because he has no economic plan, but just on the question of a carbon price, the discussion and the figures that are around today are speculation. The fact is that we have put out a framework and we're having an extensive consultation with industry about the design of a carbon price so that investors in the future can invest. There is certainty for the business community in Australia. That's why we have to move to a carbon price and we're talking to the industry about the design of that right now in constant discussion with them about it.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Swan, Knox Leader, several community charities from the area are concerned, have been inundated with people on a low income jobs in need of assistance and financial assistance. They're calling for more public housing, social housing in Melbourne's east. Is this something on the Government's horizon to…

TREASURER:

It has been on our agenda. We've put a very significant amount of investment into social housing in these regions in the last few years, of that there is no doubt. But I'll just make the point that through our bring forward of the Low Income Tax Offset for anyone who is on lower wages we've actually given it a boost if you like to their take home pay on a weekly basis. We're very cognisant of the cost of living pressures that people are facing. It's why we gave three rounds of tax cuts predominantly directed and of maximum benefit to those on low incomes over the past three years as well providing additional support when it comes to child care assistance, adding uniforms to the Education Tax Rebate and of course a whole range of other equipment when it comes to health and education.

JOURNALIST:

Can you tell us whether the Government spends more on tobacco-related illness when it takes in the tobacco taxes?

TREASURER:

What I can tell you is that the Government is absolutely determined to ensure we reduce smoking because the cost to the individual and the cost to the community is high. So we're going to do everything we possible can. The tobacco companies will want to defend their profits. What the Government wants to do is to save lives.

JOURNALIST:

Are we spending more though on illnesses than you take out on taxes?

TREASURER:

You can sight any number of studies about the huge cost to our Budget of tobacco related diseases and that's why the Government has taken a number of very significant initiatives to stamp out smoking, and we'd be very happy if nobody bought a packet of cigarettes and they didn't pay tax to the Government when they did it. We'd be very happy. That's what we're trying to do. We're trying to stop smoking and that's why we're going to plain packaging.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, you mentioned that the (inaudible) by exporters and manufacturing businesses as well. That's being felt locally around (inaudible) as well. So what's the Government doing to ensure that they safeguard jobs in the manufacturing industry?

TREASURER:

Well, everything we possibly can in the Budget. We've got a patchwork economy, and of course one of the influences here is a high dollar. The dollar is high because our terms of trade are high, and because our terms of trade are high we can expect the dollar to be relatively high in the future. But that means that the Government has to put in place a whole range of other policy settings to assist industry. That's why for example we want to bring down the company tax rate. That's why we want to work with industry and partner with industry to skill their workforce. All of these things are initiatives which lift the competitiveness of industry. That's why we're focussing on all of those things in the Budget.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, Knox Leader. Are you aware of funding a Headspace to be established in the area?

TREASURER:

Well, we've put a very significant amount of money into new mental health initiatives, including new Headspace schemes, but as we go through the planning of that I'm sure our local members here will be very vocal in terms of articulating the needs of this community. But that planning is only beginning now. We've only just announced what is the biggest infusion of new money into mental health that we've seen in our history.

JOURNALIST:

Can you estimate how much the cost of a Headspace will be?

TREASURER:

Look there are estimates of that. I'll get back to you with the costs later. Thank you.

JOURNALIST:

Just one more question, sorry. Family House is a local palliative care day hospice which gets its funding through the national respite for carers program. It's currently under review. When will the review be finished and when will they know about their funding?

TREASURER:

I might throw to our local members about that one.

SMYTHE:

(Inaudible) It will continue to be funded until 2012 and I can certainly provide you with further details after this.

TREASURER:

Thanks very much.