Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer
3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013
SUBJECTS: Joe Hockey's attack on safety net for Australian families, G20 interest in Australia's strong economy, MRRT, surplus and interest rates
What's your response to Joe Hockey?
Well, I think Mr Hockey ought to come clean on what his plans really are because what he's been talking about is punching a huge hole in the social safety net – hitting wages, hitting the pension system, hitting family payments. Mr Hockey ought to come clean about what his plans really are because every Australian ought to know that Mr Hockey wants to cut the social safety net.
Australia's economy is strong compared to other economies like Greece and Spain. In terms of your discussions with G20 and IMF members, has there been any interest in Australia and the region at all?
There's enormous interest in the Australian economy and enormous interest in the regional economy. The regional economy is strong and the Australian economy will outperform every major advanced economy this year and next. So investors I've been talking to and other political leaders all know the Australian economy is strong. It's outperforming other major developed economies and its future is bright.
Is there interest in terms of how you do it, or how you keep our economy so strong?
Well, I think leaders and investors understand that the decisiveness of the Australian Government during the global financial crisis and the global recession has made our economy stronger. Our economy is 7 per cent larger than it was prior to the global financial crisis. Here in the United States they've only just got back to where they were four or five years ago. The British economy is 4 per cent smaller than it was prior to the global financial crisis. The decisiveness of our actions during the global financial crisis has strengthened our economy and now we will outperform every other major developed economy this year and next.
Criticism from mining industry leaders like Twiggy Forrest gets a lot traction overseas. Do you find that that actually impacts on the Australian government's image over here?
Look, not at all. I think investors understand the fundamentals of the Australian economy, that they are strong. Investors understand that mining investment has increased significantly over the past three or four years. Occasionally you'll get a number of disgruntled people like Mr Forrest who will make negative statements about the Australian economy. Our fundamentals are strong and that is understood by investors and other leaders elsewhere in the world.
When I sit around the G20 table or when I go to the IMF, I'm looking at leaders who have got unemployment rates double that in Australia, that don't have the prospect of coming back to surplus in 2012-13, that their children and grandchildren may never see a surplus in some of those countries. It's just chalk and cheese when you're comparing the Australian economy to so many other developed economies that sit around the table at the G20 or the IMF.
In terms of the surplus is it, I mean, figures like Ralph Norris have said stop focusing on the surplus and focus on other things.
The surplus is very important. It's an essential defence mechanism in times of global uncertainty and it certainly gives the Reserve Bank the opportunity to reduce interest rates should they decide to do so.