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

11 May 2012

Doorstop Interview

Brisbane

SUBJECTS: Battler's Budget, economic growth, Peter Costello and Tony Abbott's economic illiteracy, Craig Thomson, interest rates

TREASURER:

This is a battler's budget that goes in to bat for the millions of low and middle income earners that aren't in the fast lane of the mining boom. That's why it was so good to get through the Parliament the Schoolkids Bonus yesterday, opposed by Mr Abbott and the Liberal Party in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.

The Labor Party understands the importance of spreading the benefits of the mining boom across our whole community and we also understand that families are under cost of living pressure but all we could see from Mr Abbott was no. He just can't stop saying no. So last night, he said no to a surplus, he said no to a Schoolkids Bonus, and he said no to having costed policies for the future.

What the Government is doing here is economically responsible, coming back to surplus so we can provide a buffer against international uncertainty, providing room for the Reserve Bank to cut interest rates should it decide to do so, and most importantly making sure that we spread the benefits of the mining boom across our whole country and ensure that people on low and middle incomes wherever they live have got a stake in our future prosperity.

JOURNALIST:

Is the Budget about class warfare?

TREASURER:

No this is a Budget about looking after the battlers, about making sure we can do something extra for those on low and middle incomes who aren't in the fast lane of the mining boom. It's Mr Abbott who's engaging in those sorts of tactics.

Fancy this, standing up in Parliament and voting no to the Schoolkids Bonus when he knows that families face enormous cost of living pressures when their kids are at school. The older they get, the more they cost. Mr Abbott's up there saying no to this very practical, affordable assistance to low and middle income earners. That's Mr Abbott conducting class war.

JOURNALIST:

Can you guarantee that the money won't be spent on the pokies?

TREASURER:

What I can guarantee is that I understand the very good sense of parents in this community who want for their children the best possible education they can get.

JOURNALIST:

Some of them aren't going to be responsible. You must admit that.

TREASURER:

I actually find those sorts of characterisations from Mr Abbott quite offensive. I also find it quite strange that he would seek to make those characterisations now when he has in the past actually supported payments like this. So he's got himself in a dreadful position. He couldn't indicate last night whether he would support the increases in Family Tax Benefit Part A which come from revenue from the mining tax. In the past he said he wants to abolish the mining tax so he can give a tax cut to Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart.

The Labor Party is absolutely behind the battlers. Mr Abbott is behind the billionaires and their Bentleys.

JOURNALIST:

What's in the budget for economic growth?

TREASURER:

This was another strange thing that we heard from Mr Abbott last night. Somehow the economy isn't growing. I mean, this just shows that he is not up to it when it comes to basic economics. The fact is that yesterday Australia recorded an overall unemployment rate of 4.9 per cent because our economy is growing and because our economy is growing around trend, and because we've got a strong investment pipeline, and because we've got contained inflation, and because we've got solid consumption, we're going to continue to grow. But Mr Abbott seems to be unaware of this fact and seeks to run down our economy every time he stands on his feet and all he can say is no.

JOURNALIST:

Have you any thoughts on Mr Costello's reported career ambitions?

TREASURER:

Well, one thing we know about Mr Costello is that he's got a very clear view about Mr Abbott. He said he can't be trusted with the economy. He has said that he's not economically literate.

So this warfare that has broken out in the Liberal Party, I think, has got a lot to do with the fact that the current members of the Liberal Party and Mr Abbott's team in the Parliament have simply wrecked any economic credibility the Liberal Party ever had.

JOURNALIST:

The HSU says it is considering suing Mr Thomson, and considering no-one is paying his legal fees now and they could possibly claim up to $500,000 and no sitting member can be bankrupt, how concerned are you that you could lose your majority?

TREASURER:

Well, these are matters which will be dealt with in the appropriate forums. Thank you.

JOURNALIST:

The ANZ Bank are due to make an announcement today on interest rates. What have you got to say about the banks and the way that they're not passing on the full amount of the rate cut?

TREASURER:

I think their customers will be very angry if they choose not to pass on this rate cut in full. Thanks.