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

23 March 2012

Doorstop interview

Joint Doorstop interview with
Andrew Fraser MP
Deputy Premier and Treasurer of Queensland
Member for Mount Coot-tha

Brisbane

SUBJECTS: Queensland election; Andrew Forrest's comments

Treasurer:

Look it's good to be here with Andrew Fraser today, just to see what's been achieved in this local school community in recent times because, as Andrew said downstairs, his passion has been education and you can really see the difference that these facilities make in a local community, particularly a school community.

And as we have a state election tomorrow this is a pretty important issue in the state election, and I've been following some of the commentary pretty closely and I've been involved in Queensland politics now, I suppose, for almost 40 years. And if you look at some of the figures that are floating around it's pretty fair to say that the Labor Party could be wiped out tomorrow. And the point I want to make today is that if there is going to be a cricket team, Andrew Fraser needs to be in it. Because what I've learnt over that, nearly 40 years, is that in Queensland politics the tide goes in and it comes out, and that happens from time to time, but the most important thing is to have strong oppositions and to have quality people holding governments accountable and that's what's really important tomorrow.

Journalist:

As a long-term Labor person, how disappointed would you be to see a dozen Members in Parliament?

Treasurer:

Well, the fact is that that's a decision for the people of Queensland tomorrow. I don't in any way contest that decision. I hope the Labor Party tomorrow does as well as it possibly can and gets the maximum number of seats possible. But what I do know from my experience over a long period of time, if a new government comes in and it's got a lopsided majority it's harder to hold them to account and that's why it's so important to have a really strong opposition, and a strong Opposition here requires Andrew Fraser.

Journalist:

Andrew, for the last few months a lot of questions have been fired at Campbell for a plan B if he didn't win his seat. What's your plan B?

Fraser:

Well, I'm pretty focused on working up until 6 o'clock tomorrow because I'm absolutely determined to be a part of a Parliament to continue to provide a strong voice in the Parliament. What I know about politics is that it's never a good thing for any political party to have a massive majority and it's particularly not going to be a good thing for someone like Campbell Newman to have a massive majority because that means without opposition he'll be able to turn back the clock on things like the Wild Rivers, on putting sand mining back on Straddie, on overturning the civil partnership laws that I introduced. I don't want to see that happen to Queensland and that's why I'm determined to keep on fighting with people like Wayne, with great Queenslanders like Wayne, with Kevin last night, to keep on fighting each and every moment up until 6 o'clock tomorrow, to be there at the end to make sure that we can provide a strong voice for the future of Queensland.

Journalist:

Mr Swan, what kind of implications could a white wash here in Queensland mean for Federal votes?

Treasurer:

I think this is very much a decision which is taken on state issues. I think that's pretty apparent from the campaign. You didn't see the LNP campaign on Federal issues at all in the last five or six weeks.

Journalist:

Do you think that the turn against Labor here though could ultimately mean a big turn against Labor federally?

Treasurer:

Not necessarily. There's nothing preordained about that sort of outcome. We have been through periods of our history where Labor has controlled the states, conservatives have controlled the Commonwealth and you can reverse that. Labor can control the Commonwealth and the conservatives may control the states.

Journalist:

Andrew do you have a plan B (inaudible)?

Fraser:

Mate, as I said, I'm pretty focused on making sure that I will do everything I can up until 6 o'clock tomorrow to be a part of it. My plan A,B, and C is to be in the Parliament and to continue to be a voice. On a day like today I'm reminded of why I stood for public office in the first place, and that is I'm a state school kid from Proserpine and I'm passionate about education, always have been. It's what drove me into public office in the first place and when I look back on what I've achieved here in this community over the last eight years there's no better example than what's going on at this school. Those original fires still burn deep inside of me and so my plan A, B, and C, all the way through to Z, is to be in the Parliament , to be there to continue to provide a voice. And I know that the people of Queensland want to see a strong opposition, a strong voice for progressive issues, and I'm determined to be that.

Journalist:

(Inaudible) QR National has just announced, one of the privatised companies, has just announced a profit downgrade of about $40 million. Do you think the timing could have been a bit better of that?

Fraser:

I think if you look at the performance of that share price over the last two years, it's been an undisputed success Andrew, and I don't think anyone would contest that fact.

Journalist:

(Inaudible) it's probably not the best of times.

Fraser:

I'm pretty sure that anyone who has got those shares in their back pocket, including the workers of QR National, are still pretty well.

Journalist:

The polls show a lot of Labor's leaders will lose at this election, a lot of the potential future leaders for the Labor Party in Queensland. Do you think that we could see them decimated for a number of years in this state?

Treasurer:

Well the most important thing is to get people like Andrew Fraser back in the parliament so there is a very strong presence if the Labor Party is in opposition. That's what's really important. Quality people. People who have achieved. And Andrew has been a treasurer of a state for well over four years, and he has been outstanding in that role, and it's very important that he is returned to the parliament.

Journalist:

What will happen if they're not?

Treasurer:

Well I'm not going to speculate about that. I can argue the point of view that I have very strongly and that's what I'm doing.

Journalist:

Mr Fraser, what sort of job options do you have if you do lose your seat?

Fraser:

I'm absolutely focused on making sure that I win my seat. That's why I'm here today, that's why you're here today. There'll be plenty of time for that after 6 o'clock tomorrow, but in the meantime I'm absolutely focused on making sure that I wake up as a member of parliament, wake up as member of parliament that's there for the Labor Party and there for the people of Queensland, and there to hold the Newman Government to account. I know this about Campbell Newman: no one should have a lopsided majority and Campbell Newman especially shouldn't have a lopsided majority. And I'd just say to the people of this community: if you want to see balance in the parliament, if you want to see someone who is prepared to stand up and hold a government to account into the future then I need your support tomorrow.

Treasurer:

I've got one other issue that I need to address actually.

Journalist:

Yes, thank you.

Treasurer:

There is some commentary around today from Mr Andrew Forrest. The sort of commentary we've seen from Mr Palmer and Mr Forrest proves conclusively what I've been arguing: that Mr Palmer and Mr Forrest are seeking to have a disproportionate influence in public policy making in this country and a disproportionate say. And that's not a healthy thing for our democracy. And Mr Forrest has proved that yet again today because essentially, Mr Forrest is campaigning against a resource rent tax, which is going to be used to fund tax breaks for 2.7 million small businesses and a big boost to superannuation for working Australians, and he's seeking to actually stop that from happening. And he's proving the point that I made in my essay a month ago.

Journalist:

Mr Swan just on that topic, this morning Martin Ferguson said: `I do not take exception to good profits that Andrew Forrest and others are making'. Is that at odds with the sort of line that you were arguing?

Treasurer:

Of course it's not and if you read my essay, my essay makes the point that we support a free enterprise system in which profitable companies continue to employ and invest. That's not the point I've been making at all. It's not about wealth, it's actually about [individuals] seeking to exercise disproportionate influence in public policy making. You see, the responsible part of the mining industry has agreed with the resource rent tax, but it's Mr Forrest and Mr Palmer that are continuing to campaign against it. And that's the point I've been making.

Journalist:

But no problems with them? I think you called them greedy at one stage?

Treasurer:

I've got no problems with people making healthy profits - that is the essence of a free market system. But the essence of a democracy is that you don't have a situation where people of enormous wealth seek to exercise disproportionate say and control of public policy making. Which is what Mr Palmer has been about, and Ms Rinehart has been about. I mean, they're talking about further investments in the media, further control in that area. I mean, I think what they have done through their behaviour over the past month demonstrates the point that I was making. You see because Mr Abbott is simply their puppet. He agrees with them on resource rent taxation and he's opposing it.