The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
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Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

23 February 2012

Interview with Sabra Lane

ABC Radio, AM Program

SUBJECTS: Leadership

LANE:

Wayne Swan, thanks for talking to AM.

TREASURER:

Good morning Sabra.

LANE:

Will there be a ballot on Monday?

TREASURER:

Well, that's for the Prime Minister to deal with today but what I can do is to take you through my thinking, my genuine belief about why we must put an end to this stealth campaign from Mr Rudd against the Government , the Labor movement and the Prime Minister.

LANE:

At the moment do you have the numbers?

TREASURER:

Well, certainly I believe there is very strong support for the Prime Minister and I want to take a bit of time and explain why the Caucus is so strongly behind the Prime Minister. Because, you know, we've got enormous challenges at the moment and great opportunities for Australia. We've got a strong economy. We've got to spread the opportunities of the mining boom. The Prime Minister and the Government have been fronting up to all of those big issues and putting in place the important long-term reforms to keep the economy strong, to reform the education system.

But the fact is that for some period of time now with increasing frequency Mr Rudd has been undermining the Government. And of course I watched his press conference from Washington where he said he would never be part of any stealth attack on a prime minister. Well it's pretty clear now, particularly given events in recent days, that Mr Rudd has been directly involved in that sort of attack on the Government and the Prime Minister.

LANE:

You issued an extraordinary statement last night. You said that the party had given Kevin Rudd all the opportunities in the world and he'd wasted them with his dysfunctional decision-making and his deeply demeaning attitude towards other people including his Caucus colleagues, he sought to tear down the 2010 campaign. Where's your evidence?

TREASURER:

There's no doubt that he sought to tear down the 2010 campaign. But you know we're a Labor Government, everything we do is about looking after the millions of Australians, particularly those on low and middle incomes and the most vulnerable. And at every step where we've been putting in place important reforms Mr Rudd has been in the background undermining government decision-making and we've seen a couple of events in recent times.

I mean we now know that he was with journalists during the last parliamentary sitting saying he was going to challenge. He publicly denied that. And we've seen evidence in the last couple of days about his attempts to undermine reforms in the poker machine area.

These things indicate that we must deal with these issues because the people who rely on us, the low and middle income earners who work hard, get up every day, go to work, come home, cook the tea – they deserve better and we do need to deal with this behaviour from Mr Rudd.

LANE:

Your statements about him being dysfunctional, how do you they measure against these statements: he had a great commitment to the country and a fantastic work ethic, he had a very good record to put to people at the next election, he was a terrific prime minister, he did a terrific job as a foreign minister, he was well motivated. These are all your words describing Kevin Rudd.

TREASURER:

Yes they are and I have been a team player all of my life. I've been in the Labor Party over 30 years. I have the privilege of serving in a government. I have worked with Prime Minister Rudd. I've worked with Prime Minister Gillard. But the truth is that Prime Minister Rudd was deeply flawed. Yes he does have some very significant achievements but on the flip side he has great weaknesses, great weaknesses which to date have not necessarily been seen in public. And the fact is that given his recent behaviour it is simply intolerable for this to go on in the way it has.

And that's why I issued the statement. I watched his words from Washington last night and the fact is that he has been deliberately, behind the scenes, undermining the important work of the Government which is there for the benefit of the people we represent – hard working low and middle income earners and the most vulnerable and I felt that I had to tell it as it is.

LANE:

Has Kevin Rudd now become a convenient scapegoat for Labor, especially for the 2010 campaign? It was a pretty awful campaign by Labor and wasn't it also harmed by Julia Gillard saying that she'd be now the real Julia?

TREASURER:

I don't think many people doubt the fact that Mr Rudd, behind the scenes, in the 2010 campaign was quite disloyal to the Labor cause, to the Labor movement, to that movement which put him into Parliament and expects better from him.

LANE:

You were part of the Rudd government; you were part of that inner sanctum, the so called ‘kitchen cabinet'. If things were so dysfunctional why didn't you speak up then or why didn't you quit from the cabinet?

TREASURER:

Well, I certainly did everything I could within that framework to ensure that we put in place very important and successful policy. But the truth of the matter is that his behaviour then became increasingly erratic and that is why the leadership changed.

LANE:

Has Labor now basically assured itself of mutually assured destruction no matter what happens? You've basically pressed the nuclear war button?

TREASURER:

No I don't believe so. I believe that this Government is doing very good work, doing very good work to keep the economy strong, putting in place really important reforms, not only to ensure prosperity but to make sure that people get a fair go in the education system, fronting up to the challenges of what's going on in our region. All of this is very important work and what we've got to do is get on with it because that's what the people of Australia want us to do.

I believe we are a good Government that has a good record and we've put in place some very important Labor reforms. And what we've got to do is put an end to this destabilisation from Mr Rudd.

LANE:

If Mr Rudd loses on Monday do you expect him to go quietly and sit on the backbench or will the destabilisation just continue?

TREASURER:

Well, I certainly expect the outcome of the ballot, when it is held, to be one which will favour the Prime Minister. There is strong Caucus support for the Prime Minister and both candidates should respect that decision.

LANE:

But a narrow victory for the Prime Minister may just ensure another challenge down the track?

TREASURER:

Well, I don't believe this is an ordinary type challenge. This is a challenge where there's a lot on the line. And of course the democratic processes of the Labor Party ought to be respected.

LANE:

Wayne Swan thank you very much for your time this morning.

TREASURER:

Thank you.