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

2 December 2011

Doorstop Interview

ALP National Conference, Sydney

2 December 2011

SUBJECTS: ALP National Conference; conscience vote on gay marriage; supporting jobs; budget management; party reform

TREASURER:

Welcome to the conference everyone.

JOURNALIST:

What happens if the Prime Minister doesn't get the conscience vote through?

TREASURER:

Well, I think we're going to have a pretty vigorous debate about a range of issues over the next couple of days.  I'm in particular looking forward to the economic debate, and in a couple of days' time we'll be having a discussion about same-sex marriage for example. There are a lot of views held by people, views held deeply.  Like the Prime Minister, I strongly support a conscience vote.  The Prime Minister has that view very firmly and there's a very good reason for it because there are deeply held views right across the Party.  That's why a conscience vote is very important.  That's why the Prime Minister is going to strongly argue for that.  That's why I'm going to strongly argue for that.

JOURNALIST:

Would you consider amendments that eat away at revenue at all (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Look we're pretty determined to ensure that we have a revenue stream that can provide a significant benefit to the 2.7 million small businesses around Australia, the 8 million workers that are benefiting from superannuation. We're pretty determined to make sure that we progress this measure and are able to deliver for all of those people with such important objectives. Looking after the retirement incomes of the lowest paid workers in particular is something that goes right to the core of the Labor Party's DNA. And we also understand that in a patchwork economy we do have a lot of struggling small businesses that aren't in the fast lane, and this significant tax cut for small business - the $6,500 instant asset write off - is a huge boost to cash flow for struggling small businesses. We understand that but of course the Liberal Party and Tony Abbott most certainly don't.

JOURNALIST:

If she doesn't have the numbers to get it through, what does that mean for her leadership?  What will that do?

TREASURER:

Well, hang on a minute I think what we ought to do here is wait for the conference to actually debate the issue.  We're a Party of reform.  We're also a Party of ideas and we are a Party full of people who have very strong views and deeply held beliefs, and we'll see that right through the debate over the next couple of days.  I think the most important thing about this conference is that there are people coming here who care deeply about their country.  They care deeply about putting in place changes which benefit working families in our community.  Let's just go through the debate and not come up with the conclusion well before it happens.

JOURNALIST:

Are you worried thought that gay marriage has all the focus rather than things like jobs?

TREASURER:

Well jobs are the focus here. We are the Labor Party.  We were formed to support people who work hard to make our country strong and we're going to have a significant debate about the economy this morning – 750,000 jobs created in Australia over the last four years.  Look at the euro zone yesterday – unemployment in the euro zone hit 10.3 per cent.  Here in Australia unemployment is 5.2 per cent, and why is that the case?  Because our Labor Government put in place the policies that were required to support our economy during a time of economic threat, and now as we go forward to spread the opportunities of the mining boom, jobs and good budget management are the key to supporting our economy for the future.

JOURNALIST:

How important is it that you walk away from this conference and the Labor Party decides to hand back some of the factional power to the rank and file?  How important is that to…

TREASURER:

I'm a supporter of reform for the Party structure and we'll have a vigorous debate about party structures but you've got to remember what's really important at the end of the day.  It's not so much the structures, it's the ideas and it's the policies.  So what we've got to do is have a sensible discussion about structure as well but never lose sight of the fact about why we are here.  We are the Labor Party.  We're all about jobs.  We're all about working conditions.  We're about the standard of living for average Australians and that's what we're here for this weekend.  Thanks.