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 July 2012

Interview with CNN

Hony Kong

SUBJECTS: Growth in the Chinese economy; Eurozone crisis; Carbon Price; Gina Rinehart.


Earlier Anna Coren asked the Australian Treasurer, Wayne Swan, whether he was concerned about the fiscal fortunes of that vital trading partner for Australia.


I think that many people assume that when they talk about a slow-down in China this would have a dramatic impact immediately on the rest of the region and the world. But a slowing in growth from eight and a half down to eight would not have a very substantial impact either on the region or on Australia. Because the Chinese economy is growing larger every year and a growth rate of seven plus, or eight per cent is a very substantial growth rate. But should the Chinese economy get to the point where authorities feel it needs some additional policy stimulus, well they're in an ideal position to provide it.


The Eurozone crisis has obviously been dominating world markets and you have said that Europe faces a road of rolling crises and volatility. What do you see as the big obstacle to finding a solution to this crisis?


I was delighted to see that at their recent meeting a week or so ago, they decided to give the power to European bailout funds to recapitalise banks in peripheral countries such as Spain. I saw that as an enormous break through. I also saw as a very big breakthrough their acknowledgment that they need to do more in the short-term to promote growth. The challenge in Europe is that at the end of the day austerity just brings more austerity. There is a requirement also, that whilst they put in place their long-term structural adjustments for fiscal consolidation and bringing spending under control in a host of policy areas, they do need to stimulate growth otherwise they get into a downward spiral.


The Government introduced the highly unpopular carbon tax at the beginning on this month, it was a tax the Prime Minister said she wasn't going to introduce. The Government pushed it through regardless. Why does Australia need to take the lead on this issue, on this problem, when the rest of the world is pretty much ..


Well that is not true and we're not taking the lead in the world. Let me make this point: you can't be a developed, prosperous economy in the 21st century unless you are substantially powered by renewable energy and powered by more energy-efficient practices. It's in the same vein as the reforms put that were put in the 80s and 90s. The bringing down of the tariff wall, putting in place national superannuation, enterprise bargaining. All of these things, the floating of our currency, they made us strong. We're reaping the benefits of that strength now. But the big reforms for the future are always hard, always unpopular, but I tell you what, they pay dividends years down the track.


Mining magnate, Gina Rinehart, who happens to be the world's wealthiest woman, she's trying to seek control of Fairfax media. You've spoken out about the fact that she refuses to sign the charter of independence, describing this as a threat to democracy. It's rather strong language but is there anything that the Government can do?


She has said publicly, and her backers have said publicly, that she wants to gain control of the media so she can install a number of prominent people into positions of power that will run a line which is her political view rather than see editorial independence in newspapers or in parts of the broadcast media. She said that openly and that's why I opposed it. I mean, I believe in the freedom of press. And I believe in the transparency and openness that comes with it, that's what you want in a first-world economy, in the 21st century.