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

29 May 2011

Doorstop Interview

Springfield, Queensland

29 May 2011

SUBJECTS: Campaign to Support Carbon Price; Liberal Infighting

TREASURER:

First of all we are having a very important debate in Australia about pricing carbon. It is absolutely essential to our future prosperity that we put a price on carbon and we do it in a way which makes sure we grow strongly. So that's what the Government is doing and you might have noticed this morning that the Liberal Party are eating each other alive precisely over this question because they don't have any alternatives when it comes to pricing carbon. So what the Government will do is get out there in a responsible way all of the information that people need to make a judgement not only about the science of climate change but how we deal with it, which of course is putting a price on carbon.

JOURNALIST:

How much is the campaign costing?

TREASURER:

We are working our way through all of the issues associated with providing public information. When we've done that we'll talk to you.

JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Well, when we've done that, we've said a long time ago - not even in the last Budget, but before that - that we would be providing public information, as we should, about climate change, about the science of climate change and of course about the need to price carbon. When we've done all that, we'll put it all out there; we can have a full public debate with all the facts on the table.

JOURNALIST:

There's been some criticism of Cate Blanchett fronting it. Do you think she was a good choice?

TREASURER:

Well, this is a campaign which is being run by a whole number of organisations. It's not a Government campaign, but I admire people who will speak out for their views and Cate Blanchett along with many others have a strong view that Australia needs to price carbon. So it's a responsible thing to do for citizens to speak up. So far we've seen a negative campaign from the Liberal Party who don't have a clue about the issue. They don't accept the science of climate change and of course as a consequence of their divisions they are eating each other alive because Tony Abbott is out there with his negativity day after day. Well, we can't put this in the too hard basket any longer. Australia needs to deal with pricing carbon. It needs to deal with dangerous climate change and that's what we're doing in a responsible way.

JOURNALIST:

The ructions within the Liberal have been going on for a few days now. What does it say about Mr Abbott's leadership?

TREASURER:

Well, it simply shows that Mr Abbott is just completely negative. He hasn't got anything positive to say about the future of our country, how we face up to these big challenges which we must do, not just for our children, but for our grandchildren.

JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible)?

TREASURER:

There's no doubt that Mr Abbott doesn't have an alternative policy framework. He just is a climate change denier. Mr Turnbull is well known to support the science of climate change. So what you've got is a vicious battle in the Liberal Party and it's there because Mr Abbott hasn't got any positive alternative and is negative all of the time. He doesn't have anything positive to say about the future of our great country.

JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Well, the Liberal Party are just completely divided. We can see that across the newspapers today. It's been there for weeks. What it demonstrates is that they're not capable of running the country because they're not capable of running their own party. Thank you.

JOURNALIST:

Thank you.

JOURNALIST:

Can I ask you about the number of fatalities we had yesterday (Inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Well, can I just say as a resident of Brisbane, as a Queenslander, as an Australian, as I watched the television news last night like many parents and saw the horrific news, particularly of that fatal crash on the highway, I like many other parents just sat there shaking my head thinking 'But for the grace of God go I'. So I hope these events spur more people to do everything they possibly can to slow down on our roads and just to take care, because the tragedy that we saw last night was just horrific and I don't want to see this happen ever again to the sort of families that are involved with that. So we've got to do everything we can to slow down, to be as safe as possible on our roads.

JOURNALIST:

Does it spark an extra cord with you given your daughter is in the music industry?

TREASURER:

Well, it did, it certainly did because every night parents think about their children when they're out on the roads and we worry about them and, you know, we don't go to sleep and last night we saw why.

<Break>

TREASURER:

Apparently for some people, it's okay for wealthy mining companies to spend a lot of money to pay less tax, but for someone like Cate Blanchett it's not okay for them to campaign for the environment. It's a real double standard

JOURNALIST:

One of the criticisms of Cate Blanchett is that she represents the tertiary-educated (inaudible)

TREASURER:

(inaudible). In the future if we are to prosper, if we are to support jobs then we have to reduce our carbon pollution footprint to save jobs. Everybody's got a stake in doing something about dangerous climate change. That's why I welcome the campaign we've seen from Cate and other individuals and organisations. But some people seem to think that people like Cate and those organisations can't campaign, while they think it's okay that wealthy mining companies spend their shareholders' money for a campaign to pay less tax to the Australian people. There's just a double standard here.

JOURNALIST:

Well there's privilege at both ends of the spectrum.

TREASURER:

What people have the right to do is to go out and voice their opinion. As well as Cate Blanchett, there are a whole range of community organisations that are involved in a campaign. It's not a government campaign; it's not funded by the government. But they're perfectly entitled to spend money they raise in a way in which they see as enhancing the future of our country.

They've got just as much right to do that as mining companies have got to spend their shareholders' money running a campaign to pay less tax. It's just as legitimate, but what's important here is that if we are to support jobs in Australia we have to reduce our carbon pollution. That's what's important for the jobs of the future - by investing in clean energy we support the jobs of the future.