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

3 August 2012

Doorstop interview

Adelaide

SUBJECTS: National Disability Insurance Scheme, Opposition paper on foreign investment, media reports in The Australian, John Button Lecture

Treasurer:

Coming here to Kilparrin is one of the most inspiring visits you can ever make. As we've walked around the school this morning, we see the tremendous work that's done here by the dedicated teachers teaching children with profound disabilities and making sure that they get the best possible start in life. Really, that's what the National Disability Insurance Scheme is all about.

Because sadly, too many Australian children and too many Australians with profound disabilities haven't had the best start in life and don't get the services that dignity demands they have. The National Disability Insurance Scheme is about putting in place a fundamental long-term reform which will rectify the wrongs of the past and make sure that Australians with disability receive the services that they deserve.

That's why it is so pleasing that South Australia from the very beginning offered to be involved as a launch site working with the Australian Government, the Gillard Government. Because the Gillard Government is absolutely committed to putting in place this reform, because this week we've been talking a lot about equality of opportunity, making sure that people in Australia get the best start in life and that has to start with people with disabilities and particularly people with profound disabilities.

Here in South Australia there will be a launch site which will concentrate on kids under 15 and it is good to come here today and acknowledge the importance of that initiative because the services provided here, not just in this school but the outreach services right across the State that come from here, are precisely the sort of services that we need to see become uniform over time through a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

I know Steve has been a regular visitor here. He's very familiar with the work and it gives me great faith and great heart that as we roll-out the National Disability Insurance Scheme, South Australia will be leading the way. They have been leading the way, their Premier Jay Weatherill has been one of five political leaders from across the political divide that has come together with the Commonwealth to get this important initiative started from 1 July next year.

Over to you.

Journalist:

There was some suggestion some levy could be introduced?

Treasurer:

No. The Prime Minister dealt with that last week. What we're doing is that the Commonwealth has already put a $1 billion on the table for the launch sites. That's how we will fund the roll-out of these launch sites over the next couple of years. The South Australian Government is also contributing to the launch sites in South Australia. This has to be over time a joint project funded jointly by the Commonwealth and the States. As we go forward, we'll have further discussions with the States as to how we move forward with the scheme.

Journalist:

In relation to another issue, what's your reaction to the Opposition's paper on foreign investment, the discussion paper?

Treasurer:

It is a dog's breakfast. They are all over the shop. You've got Mr Reith out there today calling it a dog's breakfast. You've got Mr Hockey who said only a couple of days ago that they wouldn't be changing their policy. We've got a range of possibilities canvassed in this paper that just send very confusing messages about what the Liberal Party stands for.

It now appears that Barnaby Joyce is running foreign investment policy in the Coalition. He's opposed by Mr Hockey and by others like Mr Reith and the consequence is a paper today that's simply a muddle. The truth is that the Government has a very strong set of national interest guidelines which govern state-owned enterprise investment in Australia and from the first dollar that investment is screened in Australia and subject to our national interest test.

This Government got ahead of the game, when we came to government we put in place guidelines and principles to govern the screening of and the examination of investment from state-owned enterprise, not just from China but from right around the world.

Journalist:

Do you think China could be a bit nervous about such policies?

Treasurer:

Mr Abbott made a complete hash of this in China last week. He made some announcements which he walked away from in his paper today. This is really damaging stuff to have the Opposition all over the place on such a fundamental issue which goes to the core of our future prosperity.

We've got a national interest test in place worked through with our Foreign Investment Review Board. A new set of guidelines starting in 2008 which govern investment by state-owned enterprises and they're a good set of guidelines. The Government has also said we're examining the feasibility of making sure we can get some form of register of agricultural land which is foreign-owned as well.

Journalist:

Do you think there's a need to tighten the level of foreign investment in Australia given the concerns some people have?

Treasurer:

I've just made the point we screen and apply our national interest test to the first dollar of state-owned enterprise investment in Australia. I do that now as the Treasurer. There's some concern about agricultural land and Government is looking at the feasibility of a land register. We think that's worth having a good look at but the sort of messages coming out of the Coalition aren't consistent with a policy which supports the economy and protects the Australian interest. They're just a dog's breakfast representing a whole range of different views within the Coalition and it is sending a very confusing message to the world.

Journalist:

On a completely different matter - we've seen a former AWU member come out and say that he's willing to make a statement about events that occurred quite some time ago. Are you concerned that such statements could be detrimental to the Labor Party?

Treasurer:

Not at all. I don't think there's anything in this issue that's been raised in the past, it's gone nowhere. In fact it's been raised in some embarrassing ways by those who raised it in the past. I'm not interested in it and I don't think it's got any significant implications whatsoever.

Journalist:

A spokesperson for New Jersey's Governor has mocked your Bruce Springsteen's speech as simplistic and ignorant. What is your reaction?

Treasurer:

The Republicans in the US, particularly the Tea Party, are in the pockets of billionaires in the United States. I'm not surprised they would be making that sort of commentary. Thank you.