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

9 July 2012

Interview with ABC24 Breakfast

SUBJECTS: Campbell Newman's challenge to the MRRT and spreading the benefits of the boom; Asylum Seekers; Greens preferences

HOST:

Wayne Swan, your reaction to Queensland now joining this challenge?

TREASURER:

Well it appears that the Queensland Government is prepared to waste tax-payer's money on a futile challenge. A challenge that not even the Premier of Western Australia would entertain because he knew it would be unsuccessful. I think what we're seeing here is the influence of Mr Palmer in the Liberal National Party in Queensland. They're prepared to effectively rob the punters so they can give a very big tax cut to Mr Palmer. Because this mining tax will fund very significant tax relief to small businesses. Something like 500,000 small businesses in Queensland, up to 2.7 million of them nationally. And of course a huge boost to the superannuation savings of the lowest paid workers.

I think what we're going to see here is Mr Abbott, Mr Palmer and Mr Newman in concert trying to knock off this very important measure of spreading the benefits of the mining boom right around our country.

HOST:

Nonetheless the Queensland Government is acting on advice from the Crown Law Department?

TREASURER:

Well that's what they say but we've had a lot of pretty inaccurate statements from the Queensland Government recently. Inaccurate statements about the state of their budget, they conducted an audit report recently which changed the definition to suit their purposes so they could claim that they were in far greater debt than was the case. So they're prepared to really twist the facts to push a very political agenda. This is a very political High Court challenge which is not supported by anyone else in the country.

HOST:

So you're confident your legal argument is very sound. There is no chance this could be overturned?

TREASURER:

Yes, we are very confident in our legal advice. But what you've seen here is political action from the Queensland Government, Mr Abbott and of course people like Mr Palmer who oppose the mining tax which is there to spread the benefits of the mining boom to every corner of the country and of this great state. Not everybody out there thinks that they are participating in a boom. It's very important that everybody in our community has a stake in this mining boom through the mining tax which helps to spread the benefits of the boom to every corner of the country.

HOST:

Wayne Swan, could we just move on to the issue of asylum seekers. The reference group has been formed. When do you expect that will meet?

TREASURER:

Look it won't be long, I don't think we've got a date as yet but we're very keen to get going. As you know we've got the expert group coming together. It's really important that we make substantial progress here so once again it's disappointing to see the wrecking ball tactics of Mr Abbott, who's probably the most negative politician in Australia's history and who's not even prepared to have one of his backbenchers serve on the committee.

HOST:

As you mentioned obviously the Opposition will not be taking part. You are going to have to rely on the Greens aren't you to make some concessions, unless you make further concessions yourself?

TREASURER:

What we've got to do is work with the expert group. That's why the Prime Minister set up the expert group.

People are drowning at sea. We saw the cowardly performance yesterday of Mr Abbott who wouldn't confess to the fact that he didn't have the guts to actually raise this issue with the President of Indonesia. So we're getting a pretty pathetic performance from the Liberals at the moment. So what we do need to see is people coming together in the national interest to see if we can stop these drownings at sea. Mr Abbott once again wants to score political points and doesn't want to participate.

HOST:

Can't you see though from the public's point of view this is viewed as somewhat of a cynical exercise and just simply more talk. If you haven't made some sort of an agreement with the Greens and others and independents by now, what more talk is going to help?

TREASURER:

The Government has bent over backwards to try to accommodate the views of the Opposition and of all the minor parties in the Parliament. We will continue to do that because getting a resolution here is just so important to the future of our country. Saving lives is important, stopping the flow of people coming on the boats is absolutely critical. The Government is prepared to make every possible effort, but when you've got someone who's as negative as Mr Abbott, who's prepared to put a wrecking ball through any proposal, that makes it all the more difficult.

HOST:

Amid all this talk is speculation that the Labor Party will put the Greens preferences last. At least that's the mood from the New South Wales branch of the Party. Is that something that you support?

TREASURER:

Well that's a matter for the branch of the party in New South Wales and the various branches of the national executive of the Labor Party. I don't think we can be declaring that a final decision's been taken there on those matters and there won't be one taken for some time.