The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
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Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

20 August 2011

Doorstop Interview

Mackay

20 August 2011

SUBJECTS: Opening of the Mackay Stadium; Investment in the Mackay Region; Member for Dobell; Boat arrival; Manus Island Memorandum of Understanding

TREASURER:

Well, what a great day for Mackay and the region. The opening of the new stadium, 12,000 capacity here. First class, state of the art facilities for a growing region. I think the stadium and its construction says something very special about this town, this city, and the region. The fact is, it is growing strongly and it is now going to have state of the art sporting facilities which can attract top quality games across the board.

Now, it has been made possible by $11 million from the Commonwealth Government. But it has also been made possible because of the really hard work of so many people in this community over a dozen years. People who have worked hard and had a dream that Mackay and the region could have a first class stadium.

It is happening today and I think there is a lot of excitement in the community and the Federal Government is proud to be part of that process. I’ve been coming here for many years, and I’ve been out to the site, I’ve inspected it during its construction, so it is just so exciting to be able to go to a game today and see this dream from people like Greg Sutherland come to finalisation. So, it is great for the region.

I also think it says something about sporting culture and traditions in the region. Rugby League has been a traditional game played here for a long period of time. So many great Rugby League players have come from this region. And of course now our interests are broader when it comes to sport, and other codes will be able to share in this great stadium.

I think what this says is that the region is growing and of course it does need the continuing involvement of the Commonwealth Government which is why we have committed $120 million to the upgrade of the Peak Downs Highway, the $10 million in terms of the feasibility study for the Ring Road. All of these things are required in a growing region.

JOURNALIST:

I guess, obviously, there have been a lot of issues at the moment, Craig Thomson is one of those, what is the government’s position in, I guess, calls for him to resign?

TREASURER:

Well look, allegations have been made and they have been denied by Mr Thomson. I think it is too early for people to be jumping to conclusions. We ought to let the processes that are in place reach their conclusion. For my part, I’m concentrating on the economy. There is a bit of turbulence around in the global economy. Australia is strong compared to many other parts of the world. That is what I concentrate on.

JOURNALIST:

Is it, I guess, taking away from things like that? I guess these allegations and everything that is surrounding Craig Thomson at the moment?

TREASURER:

Well, what I think what people want to see is a discussion about the policy issues. I think people are really interested in what is going on around the world and where does Australia fit into the global economy. And thankfully we have one of the strongest developed economies. We are in a part of the world that is growing more strongly. Yes, there are challenges in Europe and in the United States; I think people want to talk about those things as well, I think people are really interested in what is going on economically around the globe and what is going on here, and that is what I spend my time on.

JOURNALIST:

If these allegations are substantiated, will the ALP and the unions take action against?

TREASURER:

Well look, they are allegations and they have been denied and I don’t think people should be reaching conclusions. There are processes in place; we should let them reach their conclusions.

JOURNALIST:

And, I guess, another 71 asylum seekers – what is the government’s stance on this? I believe, I guess, you are waiting to find out what to do with these?

TREASURER:

Well, the government has made it really clear: we are determined to break the people smuggling model. So, those arrivals will be processed for pre-transfer and they will end up in another country. The message to the people smugglers and to all of those considering coming, is that if they come here, they will be processed in another country and they will end up at the back of a very long queue.

JOURNALIST:

And, I guess, that sort of leads us to Manus Island. I guess, Sarah Hanson Young has called for a parliamentary inquiry. What are your thoughts on that?

TREASURER:

Well, this is the first step in establishing a processing centre on Manus Island. And that is part and parcel of our plan to break the people smuggling model. Senator Hanson Young doesn’t want to break the people smuggling model. The Government wants to break the people smuggling model, we are determined to do that.

JOURNALIST:

Is there any way we can nip it in the bud at the source? Instead of (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Well, we work very hard on that as well. We work very hard on nipping in the bud at the source and we do stop many boats from coming in the first place. But sadly, when those boats come there can be tragic consequences. That is why we have got to break the people smuggling model and send a message that if people come by boat they will end up going back to the end of a very long queue in Malaysia.

JOURNALIST:

If Manus Island is a solution, I guess, how long are you looking at that? Obviously there is a lot of work to be done?

TREASURER:

Well we have officials engaged in discussions with the local authorities and we will be in a position to make announcements about that in the future.

JOURNALIST:

Can we contain this issue or are we going to be overrun?

TREASURER:

Look, I think it is very important to send a very clear message to the region that we are going to break the people smuggling model.

JOURNALIST:

Now that football has got their stadium, basketball in for about six – how close are we to that?

TREASURER:

Well, that’s a matter for them. I understand that the planning is taking place and it has got some way to go. But as you know we have been very supportive in that area as well and we wish you all the best and we hope that you can bring it to completion as soon as possible.

JOURNALIST:

We’re hosting the Grand Final tonight, the QBL Grand Final, and we might win it, so it would be a nice coup to bring out to win the Premiership for the first time ever and get a new stadium for the region?

TREASURER:

Well wouldn’t that be terrific.