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

28 June 2011

Interview with Alexandra Kirk

ABC Radio, AM Program

28 June 2011

SUBJECTS: Gillard Government's Reform Agenda; Opinion Polls

KIRK:

A year into her prime ministership, Julia Gillard's standing with voters continues to plummet. Today's Newspoll shows Labor's primary vote remains in the doldrums at 31 per cent, 15 points behind the Coalition. After preferences, the Opposition retains a 10 point lead. Ms Gillard's voter satisfaction rating has hit a new low of 28 per cent. It's fallen 22 points since announcing a carbon tax and, for the first time, Tony Abbott's overtaken her as preferred prime minister – he's one point ahead. The Government's holding its nerve. Treasurer Wayne Swan blames a spirited carbon tax debate and so-called vested interests.

TREASURER:

Well, big reforms are always tough. They're always hard fought and you always lose some paint, but the Prime Minister's got more leadership in her little finger than Tony Abbott has in his entire body.

KIRK:

Despite all her campaigning though, Labor's polling and her own polling continues to go backwards.

TREASURER:

Alex, it's never been any different in Australia when governments put in place very significant reforms. It's occurred in the past. We don't get obsessed with opinion polls from week to week or fortnight to fortnight. The most important thing to do is the right thing by the country in the long term, and Julia Gillard and the Government are absolutely focused on that when it comes to putting a price on carbon, when it comes to skills and training reforms, mental health, banking reform and the NBN.

KIRK:

Is it the reform, that is, the carbon tax that's the problem, or the Government and Julia Gillard's ability or inability to sell it?

TREASURER:

Well, there's a lot of negativity out there, an ocean of it, at the moment. There's a lot of vested interests out there all having a go. So what we've got to do is stay the course and put in place the big reforms that do the right thing by the country.

KIRK:

If you could tease it out though, how much do you think is due to the carbon tax and how much is due to the Government's ability to sell it?

TREASURER:

Look I don't dissect the opinion polls. I'll leave that up to the commentators. What I do know is the Government is getting the policy right for the future. We're having a very spirited public debate about it and we have a very negative Opposition and we're up against a lot of vested interests, but what I do know is putting in place a price on carbon pollution is something that is required in this country. The public appreciate that and over time we will have some more balance in this debate.

KIRK:

But the public doesn't seem to appreciate it. That's the problem, isn't it?

TREASURER:

Well, I don't make my judgement based on weekly or fortnightly or monthly opinion polls. We make our judgements in the Government on what's right for the country in the long term.