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

6 July 2011

Doorstop Interview

Parliament House

6 July 2011

SUBJECTS: Statement on global economy; tobacco plain packaging; strong future for coal industry; State of Origin

TREASURER:

Look we've seen events in Greece in the past week. We've seen a debate about the state of the global economy. So I'll be making a statement to the Parliament tonight about the economic outlook and the challenges in the global economy.

Despite all the uncertainty in the global economy, the economic fundamentals for our country are strong. We have low unemployment and we have a very large investment pipeline. So the underlying fundamentals in our economy are strong but of course there is some short-term softness in our economy. We have a patchwork economy. And certainly that's why I welcome the decision from the Reserve Bank yesterday to keep rates on hold.

I also wanted to say a couple of things about plain packaging because that legislation is in the Parliament today. I'm a cancer survivor and I don't think this Government or anyone in it is going to be intimidated by the big spend from big tobacco against these measures. These measures are about saving lives. They're a very important health measure and the Government will pursue this issue to the full extent through the Parliament and through the community debate.

Now there's also some alarmist predictions out there today about the coal industry. There's a very strong future for the coal industry in our country. Here there is also a very strong investment pipeline, something like $70 billion invested in coal - that's what ABARES says is in the pipeline. So nobody should be under any illusion that there is strong investment going into coal and there will be strong job creation in coal for a long time to come.

And the Government is a very strong supporter of the coal industry. The coal industry has got a very important role to play in our economy and in the global economy for a long time to come. But one of the reasons why we need to put a price on carbon is so that we can drive investment in other technologies and innovation so we can have a better mix in global energy supply where power supply comes from both coal and renewable energy. The future economy requires both. A price on carbon will drive investment in renewable energy, which will deliver the clean-energy economy of the future. And a price on carbon will also drive investment in new technologies, clean coal technologies which are absolutely essential for the future of our coal industry as well.

And just as we've seen in the past when there have been big reforms put forward, people have made all sorts of alarmist claims, we'll see those again. But the facts will win through. The great bulk of the coal industry does not have intensive-energy emissions. Some mines are gassy and of course the Government will bear that in mind when we're presenting our package on Sunday. So as there has been in the past, there will be additional assistance for gassy coal mines.

And finally, there is going to be a fantastic game tonight. It's a big game in terms of the history of State of Origin - it's Locky's last game and we're all going to be in there making sure and barracking for Queensland.

JOURNALIST:

We're going to be watching your statement to the House...

TREASURER:

No, no I think it will be a bit before that. Albo and I and a few others are going to hunker down in one of the offices and we'll watch the game and there will be a few blues in the room as well.

JOURNALIST:

How many jobs will be lost in the coal industry?

TREASURER:

Well we're seeing all these sorts of alarmist claims, and they're coming from the industry before they've even seen the package. The fact is that there is going to be really strong growth in the coal industry. That is a fact and the investment pipeline that's going into coal is really big - something like $70 billion worth of investment going into that industry over a period of time. That's really strong investment.

JOURNALIST:

But that's not really guaranteeing that no jobs will be lost, is it?

TREASURER:

Well what we've got is we've got some claim and counterclaim out there and we're going to see a lot of it. The fact is that the future of this industry is really strong, and it is a future in which people will be investing for a long time to come to create jobs, jobs and more jobs.

JOURNALIST:

So thousands of jobs won't be lost?

TREASURER:

Well, we've seen some claims today. We'll see more of these alarmist claims from industry representatives. We've seen alarmist claims like these in the past. The fact is there is a very strong future for this industry.

JOURNALIST:

Are you saying there will be no jobs lost in the coal industry?

TREASURER:

Well, the industry will be making all sorts of claims and counterclaims. They're making claims now before they've even seen the final package.

JOURNALIST:

You've seen the package though. Does it show that thousands of jobs will be lost in the coal industry?

TREASURER:

Well, what it shows is that this industry has a really strong future. That's what our modelling shows and it's what the investment profile also shows. We also know there are a small number of mines which are very gassy, which will require transitional assistance. And of course we have said we will be providing transitional assistance across a range of industries where there are these challenges, but it is far too early for anyone to be out there making these sorts of claims in this alarmist way.

JOURNALIST:

You say they're alarmist but are they wrong?

TREASURER:

Well, what I know is that the data and the investment data, and all of the work we've done shows that the coal industry is going to grow really strongly. We know there are a small number of mines, a small number of gassy mines and there will be transitional assistance provided there, but what we do know is that employment in the coal industry is going to increase not decrease.

JOURNALIST:

You talk about those gassy mines. Will there be job losses in those gassy mines as they transition?

TREASURER:

Well, the package will be there on Sunday for all to see. It's a package which takes into account that there are some gassy coal mines. There is transitional assistance for those gassy coal mines but the one thing that we all know is that the coal industry in this country has a strong investment pipeline and there will be more jobs created in the coal industry in the years to come.

JOURNALIST:

Is the Labor Party developing a database to give access to backbenchers about how households in their seat could be affected to help them sell the tax?

TREASURER:

Well, what the Labor Party is doing is we're going to go out there and campaign for a price on carbon pollution, and the price on carbon pollution will be a price on the carbon pollution of fewer than 1,000 large polluters. And in addition to that we'll use the revenue from that to assist households. We've made that very clear and our members will be out there on the ground campaigning as you would expect them to be.

JOURNALIST:

Just to be clear on coal. You're saying there will be a net job gain?

TREASURER:

There's going to be very strong gains in coal mining in the years ahead. That's what the investment pipeline shows. Very strong gains will come in coal mining over time.

JOURNALIST:

Jobs gains ...

TREASURER:

There will be employment gains in coal which will come from the development of new mines and from the strong investment pipeline. Thanks.