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 October 2012

Doorstop interview

Tasmania

SUBJECTS: Three Capes Track; Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation; Budget forecasts; interest rates; Alan Jones

ALBANESE:

This is an iconic project for Tasmania, this will support some 300 jobs and 70 direct jobs here on the Tasman Peninsula when the Three Capes Track is fully operational. This will attract visitors to Tasmania from all around Australia, but importantly also from all around the world. I congratulate all those who've been involved with this first stage, there's more to be done, but it's a great example of Federal-State cooperation.

JOURNALIST:

Would you say this has the potential to be one of Australia's best tourist attractions?

ALBANESE:

There is no doubt. That is why it was identified as the number one priority by the National Tourism and Transport Forum in terms of iconic tourist projects. That's why the Federal Government has contributed more than $12 million along with the State Government - a total of $25 million - because this has been identified as an absolutely iconic project for the nation.

TREASURER:

It's also great to be here to be working with the Tasmanian Government and with the local council to support jobs in Tasmania and that's why we're here for Community Cabinet as well, to talk to Tasmanians about our plans for the future to support jobs, and particularly to support jobs with projects like this which does require a lot of cooperation with the State Government. Of course, to talk about the future, because one of the threats in Tasmania is the threat from the federal Liberals to change the distribution of GST revenue to the States, and if Mr Abbott has his way and the Liberals have their way that could be a threat to the state of something like $650 million.

From Labor's point of view we stand for providing support to the State Government where and when they need it, using the formula that we've used for over 100 years. We don't want to change that formula. Mr Abbott does however want to change that formula, and it would have a dramatic impact if the Liberals were in government and they put in place that withdrawal of funding to the State Government and that would ricochet right through the community. It would certainly hit jobs.

I'd also like to say that the rate cut announced yesterday from the Reserve Bank is going to be welcomed I believe not just by households with a mortgage but by tens of thousands of small businesses right around the country and in particular here in Tasmania because there's a real concentration of small businesses here. So that's a rate cut which is very welcome, which is why it was so puzzling to see yesterday Mr Hockey whingeing about it. The fact is, a rate cut is welcome, it is good news for the country and I can't understand why the Federal Opposition is just so negative about everything all of the time.

JOURNALIST:

Have banks passed on the cuts in full?

TREASURER:

Mr Hockey I think said on television last night, he gave the banks a wink and a nudge not to pass it through in full. The Government's view is it should be passed through in full, but it appears to be the view of the Liberal Party that it is okay if some of the big banks try to hold some of that rate cut back. I don't think that's fair.

JOURNALIST:

What's your advice to consumers if their bank doesn't pass it on straight away?

TREASURER:

Well we've put in place new arrangements to make it far easier for people to change their bank. So what I say to Australians if they're not happy with their bank: walk down the road and get a better deal. Since we've abolished mortgage exit fees there's something like an additional one million people who no longer have exit fees on their home loan. That makes it easier for them to walk down the road and get a better deal, and we've also put in place a new tick and flick system to enable people to change their deposit accounts in a really easy way. So I say to those people not happy with their financial institution, walk down the road, there's better deals there.

JOURNALIST:

How many people are doing that?

TREASURER:

We've abolished mortgage exit fees and there's now something like an additional one million people out there who no longer have mortgage exit fees on their loan. So it is far easier because we've abolished mortgage exit fees, but it's also easier because we've put in place a new tick and flick system from the 1st of July that makes it really simple for people to change their deposit accounts and move to a better bank and to get a better deal.

JOURNALIST:

What will the Government do if banks don't pass on the cuts in full?

TREASURER:

What we've been doing is putting in place a series of reforms to make it easier for people to change their financial institutions.

JOURNALIST:

Do you have any control over the banks though (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

What we have done is put in place a tick and flick system, we've abolished mortgage exit fees - all of those things make it much easier for people to change their financial intuitions, walk down the road and get a better deal. But of course, when you've got prominent people in the Liberal Party like Mr Hockey saying it is okay, it is not too bad if the banks hold it back, then I think that's a bit of a problem.

JOURNALIST:

Just on your point about the GST. You guys wanted the review are you saying Tasmania's going to be quarantined?

TREASURER:

Sorry, you're confusing two different things. What you're confusing is the fact that the Liberals have said publically that they no longer support Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation. And as a consequence of that, they want to move forward with a formula which provides a per capita grant and an equal per capita grant. That would cost Tasmania a hell of a lot. The review we've got in place doesn't go to the core of Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation at all. It is the Liberals out there that have decided they want to trash 100 years of history in this country where we've always supported the smaller states and given them a hand where they need it, and they're talking about trashing that whole principle.

JOURNALIST:

The RBA says the whole resource investment boom is going and that has implications for you. How many billions do you have to find to meet your surplus promise?

TREASURER:

Well first of all let's just get it into perspective what's happening with resources. Yes, prices have come off and they've been coming off for a while. So the prices boom has come down when it comes to resources, but there's still a really big investment pipeline out there in resources which over time is also producing increased exports. So we need to have a perspective on this, that resources and investment in resources is a big source of jobs and wealth creation in Australia for a long, long time to come.

JOURNALIST:

Could it be the case again that high income earners have to help you out of the black hole?

TREASURER:

First of all I said a couple of weeks ago that because commodity prices are lower now and they're lower than we expected back at Budget, that would have an impact on our Budget. And what I've also said is that we're determined to bring the Budget back to surplus in 2012-13 and that we will find savings in the Budget to make up for the fact that there's been a hit to revenue caused by lower than expected commodity prices.

JOURNALIST:

Just a couple of questions on Alan Jones. Would you appear on his show?

TREASURER:

I think I've made it very clear that he shouldn't be on the air and I believe that ought to be the outcome of the debate that we're having at the moment. Mr Jones is aggressive, he attacks people, and he is an agent of the Liberal Party when he's on air. I mean, listening to an interview between Mr Jones and Mr Abbott is like attending a branch meeting of the Liberal Party. The fact is that Mr Jones made his remarks at an official meeting of the Liberal Party. He is a strong supporter of them, and over the past couple of years he has injected an enormous amount of poison and bile into our public debate. For that reason, I wouldn't appear on his program, but I don't think he should be on air in the first place.

JOURNALIST:

Can I ask Mr Albanese a question on that. Has Labor been guilty of being over the top playing politics around this Alan Jones thing?

ALBANESE:

Not at all. The comments that were made about the Prime Minister's father were vicious, were nasty, were just extraordinary in terms of reaching a new low and they follow the premeditated decision of the organisers from the Sydney Uni Liberal Club including Alex Dore, the last Liberal candidate for Grayndler against myself at the last election, to auction a chaff bag coat signed by Alan Jones that was bought by Alan Jones which was a reference to the extraordinary comments about how the Prime Minister should be put in a chaff bag, taken out to sea and dropped in the ocean. There is no place in Australian politics for that. Now, some politicians could be intimidated by that. Alan Jones has been a powerful person. I say that there comes a point in time whereby people have quite rightly said Alan Jones, enough is enough, you've crossed the line.

TREASURER:

Can I also add to that. Mr Abbott has also been engaged in this sort of activity. I mean he said of the Prime Minister that Julia Gillard won't lie down and die. He also said the Prime Minister has got a target on her forehead. So Mr Abbott and Mr Jones are certainly in this together.

JOURNALIST:

What are the economic benefits would you say of this walk?

TREASURER:

I think they're enormous. To begin with, you've got the economic benefits that flow from the construction. All of the work that has been done here has created jobs, not just in terms of the people that are laying the rock and making the path, but it is creating jobs and demand in the aviation industry and all of the suppliers. But ongoing, what this means is that it is a permanent source of employment for people who are doing all sorts of things in small business, whether it is providing transport, providing accommodation – the list goes on and on.