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

19 February 2013

Doorstop interview

Gold Coast

SUBJECTS: Christine Milne's National Press Club Speech; MRRT; the Parliament

TREASURER:

As the Prime Minister indicated last night, we are the Labor Party, and we always put jobs and growth first.  The Labor Party and the Greens are cut from a different cloth.  We don't pander to special interests on our left or on the right.  But most importantly I think, if you look at the operation of the Parliament over the last two years, I don't think you'll see this decision of the Greens today, practically, have a great impact on the operation of the Parliament.  The Greens have opposed quite a few Bills during the last two years but the Parliament has functioned very well, and I believe that the Parliament will continue to function very well.  In terms of the Government, we will continue to put policies forward which support hard-working Australian families and we'll get on with the job.  

JOURNALIST:

Have you sold out to the mining companies by not being willing to go back and fight the mining tax?

TREASURER:

I think the whole issue associated with mining, mining growth, taxation and jobs demonstrates some fundamental differences between Labor and the Greens, and Labor and the Liberals.  The Greens want to abolish the mining industry, that's right over on the fringe, this has been the traditional position of the Greens, they don't see the importance of mining to our economy.  They don't understand the role it plays in jobs and growth.  And then of course on the far right, you've got the Liberal Party with all of their Tea Party elements who argue that mining billionaires shouldn't pay their fair share for the resources that the Australian people own 100 per cent.  So you've got a very clear contrast.  We don't pander to extremists on the fringe - be it the left or the right. 

JOURNALIST:

Has the Prime Minister been in touch with Senator Milne this afternoon to get a verbal or a written reassurance that she will have confidence and supply?

TREASURER:

 I don't think there's any doubt that there will be confidence and supply, that has been a core of the operation of the Parliament over the last two years, and my information is that will continue.

JOURNALIST:

Some in the Labor Party have been calling for a long time for the Labor Party to actually distance themselves from the Greens because they are extremists.  Is this actually potentially good news for the ALP?

TREASURER:

As I was saying before, there are extremes to our left and extremes to our right.  Take the Liberal Party; they are increasingly going down the road of the Tea Party in the US. I note that Mr Abbott has made some comments about this today. You know, you can't put lipstick on a pit-bull and call it a blue heeler.  The fact is that the Liberal Party is dominated by a right-wing that have fashioned their policies on the Tea Party in the United States.  Policies which say give tax cuts to really wealthy people in preference to looking after hard-working families.  And that's the approach we've seen from the Liberals when it comes to the mining tax and more generally.  I mean, at the moment the Liberal Party wants to abolish the tripling of the tax-free threshold for the lowest paid workers and hack into superannuation of the lowest paid workers.  So they're Tea Party-type policies currently being espoused by Mr Abbott.

JOURNALIST:

On the mining tax, would you reconsider your position as Treasurer?

TREASURER:

Well my position is one where I will continue to ensure that we get the big decisions right for the Australian economy as we have over the past five years, and as we will for the next five years.

JOURNALIST:

The Greens and the Coalition are now combining to call for a Senate enquiry into the mining tax and particularly your handling of that.  What's your general reaction?  Do you think you have anything to fear from a Senate inquiry?

TREASURER:

No.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

No, I don't have anything to fear, I'll just make this point: I fundamentally believe that resource rent taxation is essential for the future of our country, to fairness, to economic growth. There have always been vested interests that have opposed resource rent taxation. Now, it just so happens that it's politically inconvenient that in the second half of last year commodity prices crashed and that had a dramatic impact on revenues and that occurred more generally. But these are the facts of life that responsible economic managers take into account. Thank you