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

8 July 2012

Doorstop interview

Joint interview with
The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister of Australia

SUBJECTS: Carbon pricing, Australian Greens, asylum seekers, poker machine reform


It's a great pleasure to be here in Queensland with Deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan and particularly to be in the federal electorate of Petrie with our local member, Yvette D'Ath. People today are enjoying a barbecue out here in this beautiful part of the world.

It's a week now since carbon pricing started and it's very clear that the sky hasn't fallen in; that Australians are going about their usual Sunday. And it's also very clear that the ridiculous claims made by the Opposition in the lead up to carbon pricing are simply not true.

People were told that a Sunday roast was going to cost $100. They were told that Whyalla would be wiped off the map. They were told that a great resources state like Queensland would no longer be mining coal. All of these claims are clearly untrue.

And Australians now have the opportunity to judge for themselves. Seven million Australians are going to see a tax cut in the pay packet that they're getting this week or the next week.

A tax cut to help them with cost of living pressures, and to help them with any flow through from putting a price on carbon. But with a debate that has been the subject of so much fear and so much doom saying, it's important to remind ourselves what it's all about. 

We live in a beautiful part of the world. We live in a wonderful nation; a great continent. We are a continent exposed to the effects of climate change. We have got great parts of our nation, great parts of Queensland, like the Barrier Reef, to protect.

And what that means is that we've got to play our part in combating climate change. We've got to cut the amount of carbon pollution that we're generating.

We've got one of the most carbon intensive economies in the world. And in order to change that economy, so we can seize a cleaner and greener future, we have to put a price on carbon.

All of the experts say that's the cheapest and most effective way to cut carbon pollution, and by putting a price on carbon on 1 July as we have, we'll see carbon pollution reduced by the equivalent of 45 million cars on the road in 2020.

So, we're playing our part in tackling climate change, while keeping our economy strong and whilst making sure that Australians get a hand through tax cuts and pension increases and family payment increases.

I'll go to Wayne Swan for some comments.


Thanks very much Prime Minister.

It's great to have you here in Queensland because there's probably no state which will be impacted by dangerous climate change more than Queensland.

Our beautiful Barrier Reef, our coastal developments up and down the coast; this means that we do have to deal with dangerous climate change to protect and preserve our environment. But also to protect and preserve our economy.

It's a great thing that with the introduction of carbon pricing, there is very substantial tax cuts which will go to many people on low and modest incomes, particularly here in Queensland. And of course, what we have provided is additional payments to families to assist with the cost of living, the Schoolkids Bonus. All of these initiatives are good news for Queenslanders.

Bust most particularly, what's not good news for Queenslanders is what Mr Abbott intends to do with all of these benefits that we've put in for Queenslanders and for Australians.

There this morning was Mr Abbott looking very, very shifty. On the Insiders this morning we saw why he won't go out and do long interviews with journalists. Because he couldn't answer the most basic questions about what he would do if he were in charge of our nation.

We know for example that he would abolish the mining tax. The mining tax is going to deliver tax relief to up to 2.7 million small businesses. Half a million of those small businesses in Queensland; that's going to be ripped away.

He's going to rip away the tripling of the tax free threshold. That's a very big benefit to many people on low incomes, those who work part-time, self-funded retirees, millions of Australians will benefit from that. But he's going to rip it away. But he was just being shifty about that this morning.

But what was worse was he continued to talk down our great nation. There he was this morning spreading fear and lies about the future.

He said again, he said again that it wasn't safe for companies to invest in Australia. How unpatriotic for the Leader of the Opposition to make those sorts of statements.

The fact is that foreign investors and domestic investors are investing record amounts of money in the Australian economy in recognition of its underlying strength. But there was the Leader of the Opposition, talking down Australia. Devaluing the hard work of people in small business. Deliberately trying to undermine confidence in our economy.

What we have put in place through carbon pricing, what we have put in place for the Schoolkids Bonus will make our economy strong for the future, will continue to generate jobs, particularly here in Queensland, and make sure we look after families with cost of living pressures.


Do you support preferencing the Greens last in the next federal election?


I'm happy to take your question, but I did want to say one thing following Wayne Swan's comments first.

I too saw the interview this morning with Tony Abbott on the ABC's Insiders program and I'd endorse the words of the Deputy Prime Minister. It was a truly remarkable performance.

And amongst the many things that were remarkable about what Tony Abbott said today, on Insiders today he confirmed he was too much of a coward to raise with the President of Indonesia, his so-called plan to turn back boats. And when pressed on details of how this place would work, he was simply unable to give them.

This is Tony Abbott that goes around the country with a slogan ‘stop the boats'; who says to anyone who will listen in Australia that he wants to turn boats back. But when he's got his opportunity to argue for that plan with the President of Indonesia, he's too cowardly to do so.

And when he's on TV this morning and he's got the opportunity to explain how that plan would work in detail, he's completely unable to do so. Mr Abbott's slogan from today on is a completely hollow one. He simply can't explain his plan.

So now is the time for Mr Abbott to put the politics to one side and to work with others across the Parliament including the Government, to get an effective solution to asylum seeker questions and the effective operation of offshore processing.




Well Mr Abbott clearly didn't have the guts to raise it, so you need to put that question to him.

How is it that he can stand at interviews like this one and answer questions from journalists and talk about turning around boats, but when he's got the opportunity to put it squarely to the President of Indonesia, it's completely obvious from this morning's interview he failed to do so.


He said he wouldn't be part of the parliamentary reference group on asylum seeker policy. Will the reference group go ahead anyway?


The reference group will go ahead. But given Mr Abbott can't explain his policy to turn back boats, lacks the guts to put it to Indonesia, he really should stop the politicking and should work with others in the Parliament through the reference group to get an effective solution for our nation.

He should have the decency to put the national interest first, particularly when he can't explain to the Australian people what his policy is.


Did you really want him in the group?


Certainly. Absolutely.


Are you confident that the group will still be able to be properly representative of Australian opinion without the Liberals involved?


Let's be very clear about the process that I've set up. I've asked three eminent Australians; Angus Houston, the former Chief of the Defence Force; Michael L'Estrange, a foreign policy expert; and Paris Aristotle, an expert in refugee and asylum seeker issues to provide the nation with advice about what we should do from here.

The reference group of politicians is there to meet with the panel, to give the sense of views across the Parliament.

It's a genuine attempt to find an outcome, to find a solution and that's why it would be so disappointing if Mr Abbott, who hasn't got a plan he can explain, hasn't got a plan he's prepared to put to Indonesia, refused to participate in this process.


Prime Minister, would you support the policy of turning the boats around?


I've been very clear. We've received advice, during the time that the Government's been elected, we've received advice and it's been out there publicly. I've had it, you've had it, we've all had it.

We've received advice from some of the people who have served our Defence Force at the most senior levels, that it will put the lives of Navy personnel at risk and put the lives of asylum seekers at risk. Now having received that advice crystal clear, I am not prepared to risk the lives of Navy personnel.


Why do you insist on continuing an alliance with the Greens when several key Labor figures are so clearly against it?


Well I'd refer people to the speech I gave at the Whitlam Institute last year, which fully describes my attitudes and views on all of this.

We are the Labor Party. We're more than 100 years old. We are our own political party with our historic mission for working people. We come to the Australian Parliament driven by those values; to run our economy in the interests of working people, to share the benefits of a strong economy with working people, to shape the future so that it's stronger and fairer.

We are a Labor Government governing in that tradition.

Of course I work with others in Parliament to get things done, but what we pursue in Parliament is Labor Party values, Labor Party policy.




Look, questions of preferences are for the organisational wing of the party.


Are you disappointed that Mr Dastyari and Mr Nash didn't come to you with their concerns before raising them publicly?


Look I've dealt with all of this, you know, the best part of a year ago at the Whitlam Institute.


But these comments were made – they made them over the weekend.


Well they did that in circumstances where my views are well-known.


What's your response to Mr Wilkie's suggestion you've been dead on the pokies reform issue?


I've seen these comments today. There is a suggestion about work that was being done for government that was brought to an end. The suggestion about the reasons for ending that work is completely untrue.

Government did commission that work. When we were satisfied we had what we needed from that work, the work was brought to an end.


Prime Minister, are you worried your relationship – your alliance with the Greens will be damaged by this recent (inaudible) in the Labor Party?


I think we've got to be very clear about the nature of arrangements in the Australian Parliament.

The people who sat and voted together the last day that Parliament sat were Tony Abbott's Opposition and the Australian Greens.

They sat on the Senate benches together to stop our nation having offshore processing. That's the last significant thing that happened in the Australian Parliament.

For this Government, which I lead, we will always pursue Labor values and a Labor vision. We will be prepared to work with others who will help us enact those Labor values and that Labor vision.

Thanks very much.