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

25 December 2011

Doorstop Interview

Mission Australia's Café One, Brisbane

With Rachel Watson, Mission Australia SEQ Operations Manager 

25 December 2011

SUBJECTS: Homelessness, Church and Charitable Organisations, Cyclone Grant, Paramedic's death, Acting PM's plans for Christmas Day

TREASURER:

It's great to be here today at Mission Australia's Café One. They do fantastic work. You can see this behind us today, this kitchen that they run here and have run for a long period of time, to work with the homeless in our community. Because at Christmas, we think of family, we think of friends, many of us are fortunate to have a home to go home to, but here there are people who don't have a home and the work that our great church and charitable organisations do is just so important to our community.

So at Christmas when we're all tucking into the Christmas ham, we should be thinking about those that are less fortunate and the great work that is done by our church and charitable organisations to assist those people in need, particularly at Christmas.

You can feel the mood here this morning, it's something special for the people here and that says a lot about Mission Australia, all of the volunteers here today are working with those people in need. It says a lot about our community, great community spirit, particularity at Christmas.

JOURNALIST:

What's the reaction from the guys been like? Do many want to talk politics or anything like that?

TREASURER:

I think people were pretty happy to say hello and have a bit of a yarn. Many people remarked that's it was probably rare to have an Acting Prime Minister wonder through on Christmas day. But I wanted to pay tribute in particular today to the work of our great church and charitable sector, who right across this country day and night, 365 days a year, look after the less fortunate in our community and at Christmas time, really important that we all think about those that are less fortunate than ourselves.

JOURNALIST:

There's obviously a large number of volunteers in there who give up their Christmas morning…

TREASURER:

Too right, I've been talking to some of the volunteers you know, they're from all walks of life, there's a young lady from across the city who comes across here to help, she works as a public service in the city, any number of people come from all over the city, basically to pitch in and help their fellow citizens. Rachel, do you want to say something?

WATSON:

Look, I think a number of our volunteers have been regularly doing it for over five, six years. It's something which they book themselves in after today and say "we'll work again next year", and for us that's a powerful thing for the service to say that there's a broad community support for the work that we're doing.

JOURNALIST:

What sort of stats, how many meals will you pump out today to how many people?

WATSON:

We'll probably have 150 people come through, as far as meals we'll probably have 300 because certainly everyone's having seconds which you're allowed to do on Christmas Day.

TREASURER:

And I'll tell you what, the tucker's pretty good.

JOURNALIST:

Yeah, we've received funding from Brisbane City Council to put on a really special breakfast, so eggs benedict and beautiful gifts for people, and food that I guess they wouldn't normally be getting on Christmas morning if they're sleeping rough.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible] a wide variety of people, different circumstances in which they find themselves here for different reasons?

WATSON:

I mean there's plenty of people here who are living in housing but very marginal housing and I think what the cafe brings to people is an opportunity to feel like a member of the community and to be connected and around other people. And certainly sitting by yourself at a boarding house on Christmas morning isn't the most exciting or warm thing to be doing so it's wonderful that people felt they could come here to get that community spirit.

JOURNALIST:

It's not just the food it's, as you say, the other people?

WATSON:

Absolutely, absolutely, the café's about people being able to get good nutritious food but also support if they want to make changes in their life

TREASURER:

[inaudible] sense of belonging here.

I just wanted to say a couple of other things, I've spoken to the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory this morning, he tells me that Darwin and the Northern Territory are very well prepared should the cyclone hit in the next day or so. But I just did want to say how well prepared the Northern Territory is for these events, but also to highlight the very important work which is done by our emergency services workers, police, our ambulance officers, all of our emergency service workers who are working around the clock this Christmas. And sadly there has been a tragedy in New South Wales which reminds us of just how dangerous the work that our emergency workers do and. Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of that [inaudible] paramedic from New South Wales.

JOURNALIST:

For a long time Territorians, a cyclone threat around Christmas time might bring back memories of Cyclone Tracey. …Would your words of encouragement be that, you know, the Territory Government and the emergency services are as prepared as they can be?

TREASURER:

Well I think everybody has learnt lessons from the events over the last 12 months where we've seen the largest natural disaster in Australian history. We had a combination of very big floods and cyclones into Queensland, we saw last year significant cyclones through the north, including the north-west. The weather patterns are shaping up in a similar way this year. But I believe all of our authorities, all of our agencies are as well prepared as they possibly can be and we've all certainly learnt the lessons of the events over the last 12 months.

JOURNALIST:

Can you give us an update on the latest asylum seeker boat which arrived?

TREASURER:

I can't give you any further info that hasn't been published at this stage. But there has been another boat and those asylum seekers have been transferred. I can't give you any further information than that.

JOURNALIST:

Can we just ask what your plans are for the rest of the day? Are you going to go and catch some of that big swell?

TREASURER:

Well no, I've heard the news reports that people have been banned, that the beaches have been closed. So I don't think I'd be attempting anything like that in that environment but I'm really looking forward to having Christmas lunch with the family and some of our neighbours at home.

JOURNALIST:

Do you have a ham carving job or a turkey carving job?

TREASURER:

When I get home I'll be put to work in the kitchen. OK, thank you.