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

Doorstop interview

Brisbane

SUBJECTS: Campbell Newman using taxpayer funds to challenge the MRRT in the High Court, the Liberal Party talking down the economy, the Greens

TREASURER:

We've got an extraordinary situation today because Campbell Newman says he hasn't got any money, therefore he's got to sack thousands of workers in Queensland. But he's got enough money to fund an expensive High Court challenge which will be futile and which would ultimately deliver a tax cut to the likes of Clive Palmer.

So what we see here are the twisted priorities of the Newman Government.

Essentially Mr Newman, Mr Abbott and Mr Palmer have opposed the mining tax. The mining tax is there to spread the benefits of the boom to every corner of our great state and every corner of our country.

Something like 500,000 Queensland small businesses will benefit from the instant asset write-off. 1.4 million Queensland workers will benefit from the boost to superannuation. And of course there is investment in infrastructure which flows directly from the revenue of the mining tax. This is opposed by the Liberals and the biggest beneficiary will be people like Mr Palmer.

It's really essential in our country that we spread the benefits of the boom to every corner of the country. Many people feel that there's a boom on but it's not their boom, they're not directly benefitting from the mining boom. That's why the mining tax was important and that's why the Government is absolutely determined to spread the benefits of the boom with the revenue from that tax now opposed by Mr Palmer.

Effectively what Mr Newman wants to do is to rob the punters and pay Mr Palmer.

JOURNALIST:

How do you say it's both futile and is designed to help Clive Palmer? How can it be both?

TREASURER:

Well the challenge is futile. Even the Premier of Western Australia has said that a challenge will be unsuccessful. But the LNP in Queensland is prepared to fund a futile challenge because they owe people like Mr Palmer so much. After all he owns the LNP in Queensland.

JOURNALIST:

The Attorney-General says that it's only going to cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars because they're only intervening, it's not their challenge..

TREASURER:

The Attorney-General didn't give that impression in The Australian this morning did he? He went in there and said there's going to be a full-scale intervention in this case. That's pretty costly. Anyone familiar with the workings of the High Court knows that you spend a lot of money intervening in a High Court case.

More importantly, what's at stake here is how we spread the benefits of the mining boom around our great state and right around our country. It seems to be the priority of both Mr Newman and Mr Abbott to give a tax cut to Mr Palmer and other super-profitable mining companies. And to give that at the expense of punters, to give it at the expense of workers, and to give it at the expense of many small businesses that aren't in the fast lane of the mining boom.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Bleijie says that he's standing up for punters in Queensland taking this action so the Federal Government can be stopped (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

I heard Mr Bleijie on the radio this morning and he talked down our economy. Like Mr Abbott talks down our economy on a daily basis. The fact is there's a record amount of money being invested in resources in Queensland. And only last week we had an expansion of another LNG project in Gladstone.

The fact is that investors, both domestic and international, are investing in our resources sector. But all we get is people like Mr Bleijie, Mr Newman and Mr Abbott constantly talking our economy.

The fact is that the resources pipeline is strong and it's only fair that those people who own these resources 100 per cent, the people of Australia, the people of Queensland, have a fair share. That's why the mining tax has been put in place, so we can give tax relief to small business, so we can boost the superannuation savings of workers, particularly those that are low-paid and so we can invest in infrastructure, particularly in mining regions.

That's why it's so extraordinary that a priority of the Newman Government in Queensland is to intervene in a High Court case to knock-off this tax so they can give a tax cut to Mr Palmer.

JOURNALIST:

Can you explain why you're so confident that a challenge won't fail?

TREASURER:

Our advice from our legal advisors is that we will succeed in this case. We are very confident about that. If you look at the opinions which have been expressed by prominent legal advisors, if you look at the statements from the Premier of Western Australia – they all indicated that the grounds for the Commonwealth here are very strong.

JOURNALIST:

Have you been in negotiations with the Greens in the last couple of weeks?

TREASURER:

No I haven't. I haven't been in any negotiations with the Greens in the last couple of weeks.

JOURNALIST:

What do you think of statements by your colleagues regarding the Greens and the power of the Greens?

TREASURER:

The Labor Party's been around a long time, well over 100 years. The purpose of the Labor Party is to have a prosperous economy and to spread the opportunity from that right around all of our people. So that in our society there's a degree of fairness.

The Labor Party stands up for the fair go. Throughout history there's always been Parties to the left of us and Parties to the right of us. We'll always pursue the national interest, and we will work with other Parties in Parliament to make sure we get a fair go for the Australian people. From time to time we will agree with minor Parties on both sides of the political divide. From time to time we'll disagree.

JOURNALIST:

Do you agree that they are loopy and extremists?

TREASURER:

Well with some issues we disagree with the Greens. For example the Greens and the Liberal Party voted in the Senate in the last week of sitting to knockout offshore processing for asylum seekers. The Liberal Party was pretty loopy about that as well.

JOURNALIST:

So the Greens are loopy about that too then?

TREASURER:

It certainly was a view that wasn't acceptable to us. We've seen extremism from the Liberal Party on this occasion. For example their opposition to the mining tax is pretty loopy.

The fact is that it makes common sense that when we have super profitable countries that the Australian people that own the resources 100 per cent should get a fair share and fair return. We've got a situation now where the major mining companies of Australia support the mining tax, yet it's being opposed by Tony Abbott and Mr Newman. There the ones that have been extreme in that debate.

JOURNALIST:

Is it a conscious political strategy though that Labor have realised the only way it can win the next election is to distance yourself from the Greens?

TREASURER:

We're having a discussion at all levels at the moment. But these are matters for the party organisation – I'll leave it up to them.