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

12 November 2011

Doorstop Interview

Brisbane

12 November 2011

SUBJECTS: Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Liberal Party Disarray on Economics, Tony Abbott double-talk on Australian Economy, Superannuation Guarantee, US Military Ties

TREASURER:

Well look as a proud Queenslander I want to congratulate the Gold Coast, I want to congratulate the state of Queensland, in particular the Premier and Mark Stockwell, who's the head of the bid committee, on winning this bid for the Commonwealth Games in 2018.

This is going to be a great shot in the arm for the Gold Coast, a great shot in the arm for Queensland and a great shot in the arm for Australia.  It's going to bring jobs, it's going to bring investment and most importantly, it's going to showcase Australia to the world.   As a Queenslander I was here in 1982, I was here in 1988, and I know how these events can really promote our great state and our great nation.

So I think all Queenslanders today will be pretty happy.  It's another opportunity to walk tall on the global stage but to do it in a way that promotes Australia and also makes our economy stronger and more resilient over time.  So it's a great win for the Gold Coast and all of those that have been associated with this bid.

I know many Queenslanders and Australians have been looking forward to taking on our traditional rivals, the Poms and the Kiwis, and giving them a good thrashing. But also at this Commonwealth Games we'll see the new powerhouses as well in the global economy.  We'll see the Indians and of course we'll see the super-athletes from Africa and the Caribbean.  It promises to be a really great event. 

I just wanted to make a couple of other comments as well.  I wanted to comment on what the Liberal Party has been saying about the economy.  Now we saw yesterday on ABC 24 Mr Robb completely contradict his leader when it came to superannuation contributions particularly for low-paid workers.  He contradicted Mr Abbott by saying he wouldn't necessarily support those measures from the Government which Mr Abbott back-flipped on and has supported because he didn't know whether he could fund them.  The fact is the Liberals have a $70 billion crater in their budget bottom line at the moment, and what we are seeing at the moment from the Liberal Party is series of backflips and bellyflops when it comes to the economy and they have demonstrated again they are a risk to our economy. 

So much so that we have Mr Abbott in London in the last 24 hours giving a speech saying that the Australian economy was the envy of the world. This contradicts everything he has been saying about our economy in the last couple of years, where he has talked it down day after day after day.  I think what this really demonstrates is that he has a message for Australia at home and an entirely different message for Australia when he's overseas. 

This is two-timing Tony at his worst.  He has one thing to say at home when he talks the economy down, flies overseas and talks it up because he knows he can't get away with talking the Australian economy down when he's talking to a British audience.  So I think this really puts the heat on the Liberal Party when it comes to the economy.  What they are demonstrating is their gross incompetence when it comes to all matters economic.  It's over to you.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) … this is very timely given the state of finances around the world.  It couldn't be a more timely announcement I suppose in terms of jobs and infrastructure... (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Well it's certainly welcome.  The Australian economy, amongst developed economies, is strong and resilient.  But we all know, and the Gold Coast knows particularly, that we have a patchwork economy.  So the Gold Coast has been not in the fast lane with the resources boom and we know the higher dollar has been a restraint on our great tourism industry, on the Gold Coast and in many other parts of the country.  So this is a real shot in the arm for the tourism industry in 2018.  But I think it will give everyone a bit of a spring in their step and a bit more confidence about the future.

I personally am very optimistic about the future of our economy.  We know there is uncertainty and volatility in the global economy at the moment.  But if you wanted to be in any economy in the world at the moment, you'd be here in Australia.

JOURNALIST:

How much is the Federal Government going to contribute to the Commonwealth Games?

TREASURER:

Well we've already provided a range of guarantees that were required so this bid could be assessed as it has been.  We'll sit down and talk with the Queensland Government and the bid authorities about these issues, but as I've said, we've already provided a range of guarantees.

JOURNALIST:

What are those guarantees?

TREASURER:

Well they have to do with a whole series of issues regarding tax and customs and so on.  I don't want to go into them in any great detail today, they do have a cost in the budget and that will be provided.  But today I think we can celebrate the win.  We will sit down with the bid authorities and work our way through all of those issues in the months and years ahead.

JOURNALIST:

But you are prepared to put your money where your mouth is?

TREASURER:

Well we already have put our money where our mouth is by providing guarantees which do have a cost to our budget but we'll work our way through these issues with the Queensland authorities and the bid team.

JOURNALIST:

What's the maximum cost to your budget?

TREASURER:

Well now that the bid has been won, we can sit down and go through all of those issues and of course there will be costs.  But we will sit down and work our way through all of those issues with the Queensland Government and the Gold Coast City Council and all of the people that are involved here.

JOURNALIST:

Closer military ties with the US, is this idea of joint bases, beefing up joint bases, likely to be more politically successful or politically popular than individual US bases?

TREASURER:

Well we have a very strong alliance with the Americans and currently we are in Honolulu with the Americans and other members of APEC talking about matters economic, in particular, trade.  But when the President comes here this coming week and meets with the Prime Minister, they will discuss a wide range of issues and I don't intend to pre-empt those discussions.

JOURNALIST:

You're subsidising or getting the mining tax to pay for superannuation, how does it actually work?  What's the mechanism in which there won't be any cost to employers of an extra 3 per cent, especially small business?

TREASURER:

Well can we just go through a series of issues, because there are a series of issues involved in that question. The reason why we are having a resource rent tax on the most profitable mining companies is so we can spread the opportunities of the mining boom to every corner of our country, and use that revenue to provide a significant tax cut to small business. 

For example, the $6,500 instant asset write-off is going to be of great benefit to 2.7 million small businesses right around the country. The other thing we're going to do with the revenue is first of all, meet the costs of the increasing the Super Guarantee from 9 per cent to 12 per cent because there is a budget cost associated with that.  But in addition to that, what we intend to do is (inaudible) to low-paid workers.  Mr Abbott has said that he will support the increase in the Super Guarantee, which is phased in over a long period of time.  It starts at increments of 0.25 per cent, so it doesn't all come in at once.

(Inaudible) … there is a budget cost, which Mr Abbott has said he will meet, that he will fund based on (inaudible) but Mr Robb said he can't …  (inaudible).  They have not made a commitment to the additional contributions which we will provide to low income workers…  (inaudible) .

JOURNALIST:

Back to the US military [inaudible] relocating their forces from Afghanistan and Iraq back into the Pacific as they said it will be the engine room of the future.  Is there a financial upside for Australia as well as a strategic one?

TREASURER:

It's far too early to be making those assessments.  These matters are dealt with by the Prime Minister and by our Foreign Affairs Spokesman and our Defence Spokesman and I don't intend to make any further comment.  Ok, thank you.