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

21 September 2012

Doorstop interview

Sydney

SUBJECTS: IMF's vote of confidence in Australian economy and Australian fiscal policy Standard and Poor's re-affirms Australia's AAA credit rating; Tea-Party tactics of the Liberal Party; Public Service.

TREASURER:

It was very pleasing to get the vote of confidence from the IMF overnight - a vote of confidence in our solid economic fundamentals in this country; solid growth, low unemployment, strong investment pipeline, lower interest rates, contained inflation. It's really pleasing to see the IMF's assessment.

Over to you.

JOURNALIST:

The IMF raised concerns that the Australian dollar is overvalued. Do you share those views?

TREASURER:

I don't comment on the value of the Australian dollar.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

The picture I've painted has been consistent with the IMF and consistent with the assessment by Standard and Poor's earlier in the week. I know there are people who will go out there like Tony Abbott and talk our economy down and behave in a Tea-Party fashion. But the fact is that the fundamentals of the Australian economy are strong. Yes, there are challenges in the global outlook and I spoke extensively about those this morning, and they do flow through to the Australian economy, no doubt about that. But we have to build on these strong fundamentals and part of building on these strong fundamentals in the Australian economy is for political leaders like Mr Abbott to stop talking down the Australian economy.

JOURNALIST:

Some of these people like Bernie Brooks from Myer who are saying that consumers are nervously worried, they're not spending.

TREASURER:

There are cautious consumers. A cautious consumer is partly a product of events overseas, particularly in Europe. But what Australian's can be sure of is that our economic fundamentals are rock-solid. We need to build on that as we go forward, we do have uncertainties elsewhere in the global economy but I'm an optimist about our country and our region. We've got to see the glass as being half full not half empty. It doesn't help when irresponsible political leaders like Mr Abbott trash our economy and use the tactics of the Tea-Party in the US for political advantage.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, has politics trumped the authority of independence of the public service? Do we need reforms as suggested by the Business Council and Terry Moran?

TREASURER:

I've read those reports overnight and I simply reject them. I want to make a couple of points about that. This is a Government in politically difficult circumstances that's taken on long-term reform. That's what we spent two years of our Government doing – taking the hard decisions for the long-term. Our eyes are very fairly focused on making sure we get the long-term settings right for the future. I have nothing but the highest regard for the professionalism of the public service that we work with and that's something I respect.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, we've got consulates warning that citizens in Australia to be careful this weekend because of possible violence. Is that a bad look for the country?

TREASURER:

We should all condemn violence in any form, anywhere, anytime.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, have you or your office ever used the public service to undertake political work?

TREASURER:

What I've said before is I respect the public service, I work very well with them and I have the highest regard for public servants that I work with and my office works with.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer the IMF said you should abandon your surplus pledge if the global economy slows down sharply.

TREASURER:

I think you put the caveat in there. It's not been quite reported in that way. If you read the IMF report they've endorsed a return to surplus and the reasons for it. It sends a message to the world about the strength of our economy, gives maximum flexibility to the Reserve Bank to adjust monetary policy, they then later on in the report put a caveat in, in different circumstances, but they've strongly endorsed the Government's fiscal approach.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, you called parts of the Republican Party crazies. Aren't those quite inflammatory comments given the US election is weeks away?

TREASURER:

I think it's pretty inflammatory to see a country default and that was the point I made. That would have very serious implications for the global economy. That's precisely what actually happened around 12 months ago. It's the last thing the global economy needs.

JOURNALIST:

You spoke about the Asian Century (inaudible)

TREASURER:

I'd just refer you to my recent trip to China. The progress that we made in terms of convertibility from the dollar to the RMB. There's a whole range of activity going on in those areas and that will continue to go on. We've also got the Asian Century White Paper coming.