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 September 2012

Doorstop interview

Brisbane

SUBJECTS: Condolences to the Prime Minister, Petition to urge Campbell Newman to sign up to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Queensland Health, Queensland State Budget, LNP's slashing jobs in Queensland; Education Reform, Liberals' $70 billion budget crater

TREASURER:

It's good to be here with Jenny Macklin and also Annastacia Palaszczuk to meet with all the families today.

But before we talk about the whole issue of the NDIS, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, I did want to say something about the very sad passing of John Gillard. I think we all know it's gut-wrenching to lose a parents but when it's unexpected and when you're half way around the world, it's more so.

Julia had a really close relationship with her dad. She was really proud of him and he was really proud of her. He taught her the values that she's lived by all of her life - the commitment to a fair go, looking after those who get left behind, those were the values that John Gillard stood for. It's a very sad passing for the family. I know many Australians are thinking of Julia and her mum and her sister at this sad time and our thoughts are certainly with the Gillard family at this very, very difficult time.

I'd also like to say a few things about the National Disability Insurance Scheme. You can see here today all of the families that are here caring with children in particular, but more broadly with relatives with very severe disabilities. The unmet need in this area has been growing for years and years and years. The time has come for a very substantial national response to this critical issue to deliver fairness to all Australians with a disability. That is why we in the Federal Government put $1 billion in our last budget to put in place the essential trial sites for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. But we can't do it on our own. We've got to work with the states and also the community sector and all of the parents and supporters that are here today to make this work.

Sadly in Queensland we have not had the support of the Queensland Premier and the Queensland Government, and we need that. People with disabilities need that, and that's why these petitions have been signed by so many Queenslanders over a very short period of time. This is an issue which should be above politics. The Federal Government has come to this issue with a commitment to put in place this critical national reform. A reform to social policy in Australia that is as every bit as big as the introduction of Medicare. It won't be easy, but we need everybody on the same page. We absolutely need state governments working with the Federal Government to get this done. So with those few words I'll throw to Jenny Macklin then we'll talk to Annastacia.

MACKLIN:

Thanks very much. First of all I'd like to thank the Treasurer very much for being here with us at this community event today and it's great to be joined also with Annastacia Palaszczuk. Like the Treasurer, I'd like first of all to pass on my heartfelt sympathies to the Prime Minister and her family on the very sad passing of her dad. It doesn't matter whether you're the Prime Minister or anyone else, when you lose your dad it's a very, very hard time so we're thinking of her today.

We are very pleased to be able to receive this petition - 10,000 Queenslanders have signed this petition and they're saying to the Premier of Queensland: we want you to be part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Queensland is already spending a lot less than any other part of Australia on care and support for people with disability. In the Federal Parliament we want that to change. Wayne Swan, as the Treasurer, announced $1 billion extra for the care and support of people with disability. We want Campbell Newman here in Queensland to meet his fair share and 10,000 Queenslanders also want the same. So on Tuesday when the budget comes down here in Queensland we want to see extra money going into support for people with disability.

PALASZCZUK:

Thanks Jenny. I'd like to also share with Wayne and Jenny and thank all the families and friends who have come a long today talking about the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This is something that Queensland must be part of. As a former Minister for Disability Services, I understand the incredible pressure out there, the daily pressure that families are facing in looking after their loved ones. Queensland must step up to the plate, Queensland must be part of this national reform. This is one of the biggest social reforms that we'll ever see in our lifetime. New South Wales has signed up, Victoria has signed up, and now the Premier of this state must show some leadership and he must step up to the plate, sign up to the National Disability Insurance Scheme and be part of it.

I also want to make some brief comments about health. Today we saw published in The Sunday Mail an article which basically says that an extra $800 million was going to be invested into Queensland Health over the next financial year. Well this is not new news. In fact it is old news. Because the former Labor Government had already budgeted an increase of not 7 per cent to Queensland Health, but 7.3 per cent to Queensland Health. Also over the last five years, the former Queensland Labor Government committed to employing 5,000 extra nurses, doctors and allied health professionals. What the Premier and the Health Minister have done today is rub the noses of all those health professionals who are now facing the sack, On Friday we had the Health Minister announce close to 3,000 people would lose their jobs, 3,000 people. And what we're going to see on Tuesday is going to be a very sad day for some over 14,000 families who are going to find out that they are without a job. This is not a caring government, this is not a compassionate government. They don't care about jobs, they don't care about the National Disability Insurance Scheme, all their about is slashing and burning simply to pay for their unfunded election commitments.

JOURNALIST:

Will you retain the Acting Prime Ministership when Ms Gillard returns or will she go straight back into the job?

TREASURER:

The Prime Minister is returning late this afternoon. She's going to spend time with her family grieving. How long that will go on I'm unsure at this stage. I will continue to act in the role of Prime Minister for the next couple of days.

JOURNALIST:

Do you have an approximate idea of when she might be back in the job? Has she asked for privacy during this time?

TREASURER:

I think everybody really understands that when you're in public life there are some events that occur which are intensely private. So I think all Australians do respect the need for the family to have privacy as they grieve. So I will remain Acting Prime Minister for the next couple of days. The Prime Minister will return to work after that.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think Tuesday's budget is going to be transparent revealing to Queenslanders exactly what the books said when the Newman Government took over?

TREASURER:

I throw to Annastacia but I might just make a couple of remarks about that. You can't sack 3,000 workers on Friday and then turn around on Sunday and claim you're increasing the budget. I mean this is very cynical politics from the Liberal National Party in Queensland. You just can't sack 3,000 people on Friday then pretend that the budget is increasing on Sunday and I think that's how Queenslanders will see that story today. Annastacia has already made the point that the claims about increased funding are dubious.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer do you think the Greens have reached their peak support?

TREASURER:

Well I'm not sure of why you've asked the question but if you're referring to some opinion poll, I don't comment on opinion polls. What I do is spend my time doing, and what Jenny spends her time doing and what Annastacia spends her time doing is arguing about the very important policies that we need to put in place for the future of the country. And there's none more important than the National Disability Insurance Scheme. That's what I focus my attention on

JOURNALIST:

Mr Swan, Christopher Pyne says that he might not repeal your education reforms if they match Coalition policy. Are you heartened that that could mean one less wrecking ball through a Labor policy?

TREASURER:

Everything that Christopher Pyne has said so far has been opposing the very essential reforms that we intend to put in place in delivering some fairness to all Australian students in the education system. The Liberal and National Parties, whether they're in Queensland or whether they're elsewhere in the country, are intent on putting a huge wrecking ball through education and health services. The Liberal Party nationally has a $70 billion crater in their budget bottom line and they're not intending to tell the Australian people how they will fill it. But we've had a sneak preview of how they'll do it nationally which is the way Campbell Newman did it here. Campbell Newman made $4 billion worth of unfunded election promises, didn't tell the Queensland people how he was going to fund them and after the election set about filling that gap by slashing health and education and refusing to commit to vital policies like the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I think the Liberals nationally are intent on putting a wrecking ball right through health and education services because it's the only way they will fill that $70 billion crater in their budget bottom line.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

Well we'll have to wait to see what they do in their budget on Tuesday, but I think as I've already explained and as Annastacia said, they made $ 4 billion worth of unfunded election promises, that's why they're sacking 14,000 workers in Queensland - and that's the minimum. And leaving a very dark cloud over the heads of thousands of workers in the public sector. But it's broader than that. The programs that are being axed are also affecting employment through a whole range of services. So how they can possibly claim that there'll be no impact on front line services is simply absurd.

PALASZCZUK:

Just following up from what Wayne said, what we've seen is programs like Skilling for Queenslanders for Work axed. This is a program that was actually out getting long-term unemployed people back into jobs. It was so successful that Deloitte came out and talked about how positive this program was. Let's be very clear here, the Premier and his Treasurer have one single aim in sight and that is to fund their $4 billion worth of unfunded election commitments. There's a lot of fear, there's lot of uncertainty at the moment. I've just come back from Cairns, I've been up in Townsville, I've been visiting and talking to the nurses and the allied health professionals. They were never told before election that their jobs were on the chopping block. And as I said the former Labor Government had a good track record of increasing our services. Increasing our services in health, in education and in transport. And what we've seen that this Government is intent on doing is winding back the clock, winding back Queensland to a place where we want to go back to. Where we don't have the services, we're not catering for the growth. The budget on Tuesday is simply about the Premier and the Treasurer funding their unfunded election commitments.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

PALASZCZUK:

That's correct. We had budgeted over the next financial year $860 million - that took into account the growth in Queensland Health plus the funding to the statutory board including an increase into the Institute of Queensland Medical Technology.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

PALASZCZUK:

No, because there were never any job cuts factored in. And like I said previously, what the former Labor Government did and what we were committed to was increasing our health professionals. So over the last four to five years we saw an increase of 5,000 nurses, doctors and allied professionals. And with one stroke of the pen what we saw on Friday was essentially the Health Minister taking the axe to some 2,750 health professionals. But not only that, when you take into account the temporary contracts that have been slashed it's up to 6,000 people. If you don't think for a moment that this is going to have an impact on health delivery in this state you've got another thing coming.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

PALASZCZUK:

It was a 7.3 per cent increase that the former Labor Government had projected to. What they are saying is that they will increase it by 7 per cent.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

PALASZCZUK:

That's fine because the former Labor Government was actually going through and looking at these partnerships anyway. So it's nothing new, it's nothing startling, it's actually old news.

JOURNALIST:

When the Labor Government was initially looking at this policy, did the LNP oppose it at the time?

PALASZCZUK:

I'm not quite sure. I'll have to find that out for you.

TREASURER:

Ok thanks very much.