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 December 2011

Doorstop Interview

Melbourne

12 December 2011

SUBJECTS: Final report on the economic potential of senior Australians; cabinet reshuffle

JOURNALIST:

Mr Swan, how do you feel about stamp duty for older Australians?

TREASURER:

Look, I understand the rationale behind the recommendation. This is a matter for the states. And as you would be aware recently we convened a Tax Forum where there was a lot of discussion about reform particularly in the area of state taxation. I'm proceeding with a discussion with the state treasurers about how we deal with a series of issues raised at the Tax Forum and once that has been raised by this panel it will be considered in that context.

JOURNALIST:

Do you acknowledge that Australians are going to have to work longer than they have in the past?

TREASURER:

Well, it's not a question of compulsion. If Australians wish to work longer but are unable to do so because there is discrimination against those in the workforce who are getting on in years, then we should do something about that. If there are impediments in the tax and transfer system that stop older Australians from contributing to the labour force, we should do something about that. It's not a question of telling people what to do. Many people who are retired already contribute in a very significant fashion to our society. Many of them are volunteers. Many of them look after grandchildren but what we need to do is ensure that those that wish to work and make a further contribution in the world of work can do so. That's what the report is all about.

JOURNALIST:

Is there anything that can be done perhaps to create incentives for businesses to hire (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Well, we already have a number of schemes out there and I think one of the recommendations that we have received is that we need to do a lot more work with the business community highlighting the availability of government support for workers in some circumstances, but more importantly, working with the business community to recruit many of those greying Australians who are looking for a job but have had difficulty getting one. It's a question of joining the business community up with the workforce.

EVERALD COMPTON:

Can I emphasise that nowhere in this report do we recommend that the retirement age go above the 67 that it's projected at the moment. Everything in this report is about giving older people the incentives to stay in the workforce or making those that want to stay in the workforce be able to do it and we have to take account it is not only the employers of Australia who have to encourage them in, and those in the commercial world, but federal, state and local governments have all sorts of discriminatory policies that have been there for a long, long time but ought to be changed to enable people to work for governments for a lot longer than they do. But everything in here is to be done voluntarily. There's no compulsion in asking anyone to stay in the workforce.

JOURNALIST:

Nick Sherry has announced he'll be standing down as Minister for Small Business. I guess that leaves the Cabinet with no one from Tasmania.

TREASURER:

Well first of all I'd like to pay tribute to the very long service of Nick Sherry. He's been an outstanding Minister and he's also been an outstanding Shadow Minister. Nick has served for many years in the Federal Parliament and he's been an outstanding representative from Tasmania. But secondly in terms of the reshuffle, those are matters that the Prime Minister will deal with later today.

But I would just like to make this point – this has been a very important year for Australia and some very significant reforms have been put in place over the last 12 months. We've priced carbon, we've finally got a decent price for our mineral resources which we can spread around the country and give a very significant tax cut to small businesses, we've got a budget in great shape, we've got very low unemployment, and we've got so much more to do to meet the challenges of the future in the year ahead and I believe that's what this reshuffle will be all about. Meeting those challenges and building on the very substantial achievements that have been put in place by the Government over the past year.

JOURNALIST:

What will be gained by the reshuffle?

TREASURER:

Well, I think you'll have to wait and see what the Prime Minister has got to say later today, but we've already had one Minister who has indicated that he wishes to stand down so there's a vacancy there, that has implications as you go through the Ministry but you'll just have to wait and see until the Prime Minister makes her announcement later today.

JOURNALIST:

Will you welcome Bill Shorten as your Assistant?

TREASURER:

I'm not going to pre-empt the outcome of the reshuffle today but he's done a terrific job over the past year or so.

JOURNALIST:

Was it a surprise that Nick Sherry had stepped down? Was he asked to resign or was it his own decision?

TREASURER:

I think Nick Sherry has given a very full account of why he is stepping down today. Nick's served for a long time and he's taken the decision to step down. He has outlined all the reasons for that today.

JOURNALIST:

Some of the observers are saying the reshuffle would be irrelevant because the polls are showing the ship's going down anyway.

TREASURER:

Well, that's just rubbish. Can I make this point – in politics, what we're about, is very big reforms which enhance our prosperity and make our country a better place. The decisions that we take are in the national interest, they're not governed by weekly or monthly opinion polls.

JOURNALIST:

But they're not helping your popularity.

TREASURER:

You don't govern because of opinion polls, what you govern for is in the national interest, to make the country a better place, to strengthen the fundamentals in the economy, to make your society stronger. That's what the Government has been talking about here this morning. What we are doing is dealing with the very big challenges that face our nation in the years ahead.

JOURNALIST:

Would you expect another Tasmanian to come into the Ministry?

TREASURER:

Well, I think you'll just have to wait until the Prime Minister makes her announcement later today.

JOURNALIST:

Is it true Peter Garrett threatened to step down?

TREASURER:

I'll leave all of that sort of speculation to the commentators. The fact is that the Prime Minister will outline arrangements which will deal with the very big challenges this country faces, and that's what motivates the Prime Minister, myself and the whole government.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think it's time for a reshuffle?

TREASURER:

Well obviously we've had a vacancy in the Ministry that has to be filled. It's a very good time to deal with the challenges that we're facing in the future and to consider that in terms of the future shape of both the Ministry and the Cabinet. Thanks very much.