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Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

17 October 2011

Interview with Alexandra Kirk

ABC Radio, AM Program

17 October 2011

SUBJECTS: Global economy; G20 Finance Ministers Meeting; people smuggling; carbon price

TONY EASTLEY:

The Prime Minister is planning to read the riot act today to her ministers after an embarrassing Cabinet leak at the weekend.  Reports emerged in newspapers that some members of Cabinet are unhappy about the decision to pursue onshore processing of asylum seekers.

The Treasurer Wayne Swan won't be there - he's just attended a meeting of the Group of 20 finance ministers in Paris which put pressure on Europe to resolve its debt crisis and he's now flown on to London to meet the head of the Bank of England and the UK chancellor.

Earlier this morning he spoke to Alexandra Kirk in Canberra.

TREASURER:

Well, I certainly think Finance Ministers in Paris made it very, very clear to the Europeans that we needed to put in place a comprehensive range of solutions to deal with the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and the serious impact it is having on global economic confidence and global growth.

KIRK:

Should Europeans solve the problems themselves or is there a need to inject more money into the International Monetary Fund?

TREASURER:

Well, the first priority is for European leaders to deal with European problems. They have been mucking around with this for over 18 months so the leaders have an opportunity on October 23 to outline a comprehensive plan but there is no doubt that finance ministers in the G20 do stand willing to work with the Europeans on ongoing solutions.  But in the first instance, there has to be a European solution.

KIRK:

Is there broad agreement on the best way to cancel some of Greece's debt and contain the damage?

TREASURER:

Well, those are matters for European finance ministers and will be handled internally within the European Union but what world markets want to see, what finance ministers want to see is a comprehensive plan - not just one that deals with Greece but one that deals with the challenges of the banks in the European Union, one that deals with fiscal consolidation.  All of those issues are on the table.

KIRK:

Are there signs there is a comprehensive plan in the making?

TREASURER:

Well, certainly I was encouraged by the response that we did receive at the meetings from the Europeans but we've got to ensure that that plan is comprehensive.  There is a chance for that to be outlined on October 23.  That's what the world is waiting for.

KIRK:

On the domestic front, the Government is still dealing with a fall out from a defeat of the Malaysian solution.  Julia Gillard is reportedly going to read the riot act to her Cabinet ministers today.  Is that wise?

TREASURER:

Well, certainly I don't talk about what goes on internally within Cabinet meetings but I think the Australian people are less interested in the ins and outs of what is going on in Cabinet and they are much more interested in what is going on in the global and national economy and that's my concern.

KIRK:

But isn't the message from the Cabinet leak that a group of right-wing ministers wanting the Government to embrace Nauru to salvage offshore processing, isn't the message that they're running scared of the Opposition?

TREASURER:

No, that's not a message at all.  I mean, everybody is aware of what the advice to the Government has been about Nauru.  Everybody is aware as to why the Government opted for the Malaysian solution.

KIRK:

Except that there is a group of Ministers who still wanted Nauru.

TREASURER:

Well, that assumes that all those reports are accurate.  My point is this, I think the Australian public want us to get on with doing what we're doing which is putting a price on carbon pollution, dealing with the challenges in the economy, putting in place important reforms in health, in infrastructure and so on.  I think that is what the Australian people are interested in.

KIRK:

Is it possible that come the next election, if you can manage onshore processing and make it go smoothly, that it may be neutralised as a political problem?

TREASURER:

Well, we approach these questions, not about what they mean in terms of opinion polls, but what is good for the country in the long term and what we will do is what is right and what is in the national interest.

KIRK:

Which at this point is?

TREASURER:

Well, in terms of the national interest is to get on and make sure we have got good border security and we deal with these challenges within the confines of the High Court decision.

KIRK:

On the other political hot potato, carbon pricing, would you advise business to buy carbon permits before 2015 despite the Coalition advising against it?

TREASURER:

Well, what I would advise the business community and people generally is to follow the law of the land and when this piece of legislation goes through the Senate, it will be the law of the land. So that sort of advice from Mr Abbott is deeply irresponsible and just shows he is not fit for high office.

KIRK:

But why should business take the risk if there's a really strong chance of the Coalition winning office and then dismantling the emissions trading scheme?

TREASURER:

What we've got to do is what is right for the country and what everybody has to do is adhere to the law.

KIRK:

Do you think carbon permits are a property right and so should be compensated, which is the issue at hand?

TREASURER:

I'm not going to deal with that sort of speculation today.  What I am going to do is advise people to adhere to the law of the land.  That's the responsible thing to do.  Mr Abbott is deeply irresponsible.