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

6 April 2013

Doorstop Interview

Joint Doorstop Interview with
Bronwyn Taha
Labor Candidate for Dawson
Mackay

SUBJECTS: Labor investing in Mackay; Tony Abbott's Tax Hikes and Negativity; Superannuation; NBN

TREASURER:

It's great to be here with Bronwyn Taha, the Labor candidate for Dawson. It's terrific to be here today to see the plans for the future for Mackay basketball. It is fantastic to be briefed on what is happening here. This $6 million rebuild of this place is going to make a huge difference in this community and this is yet another example of a Labor Government delivering in the Dawson electorate.

We made a commitment some time ago and we are carrying through that commitment and you can see it in the construction site outside. It really warmed my heart to talk to the local officials here and see what a difference this $6 million upgrade is going to make. It will mean that the teams here will be able to host interstate teams, interstate competitions, sporting teams – everybody is going to benefit from this expansion. In fact if you stand outside and look across to the Virgin football stadium you can see what has happened over there. Everybody is a buzz with the concert that happened here a few weeks ago, well bigger events can occur here with this upgrade. You've got something like 1,000 basketballers who are members here, you've got something like 1100 netballers who are involved here as well. This is going to make a very big difference to the hard working people over 40 years that have worked hard to put together these facilities, that hard work is now recognised and rewarded with this $6 million upgrade to the facilities here which will make a big difference because sport is so important to a growing community. To have kids actively involved in team sport is the foundation of a strong community which is why we are so proud of what has been achieved here and what this investment will do for the future. That is already building on some significant commitments that have been made in this community and that are coming down the track as well. Whether it's the commitment to the Mackay Ring Road feasibility study, or whether it's our commitment to the $120 million upgrade of the Peak Downs Highway, they are all very big commitments to this local community – in addition to the ones that have already been made, such as the investment over at the Virgin Stadium as well.

But it's not just about infrastructure, it's also about helping local families get by with the cost of living and to make sure that families have the resources to do the best for their kids well into the future. One of the reforms that Bronwyn and I are most proud of is the fact that, in recent times, the Labor Government has tripled the tax-free threshold. That is: you don't pay a dollar of tax until you earn $18,600. People on low incomes, many of them women, are very significant beneficiaries of that reform and of course that reform is now under threat by Tony Abbott who is going to rip that tax cut out to all of those low paid workers in our community. I've also been talking in recent days about the importance of building up and strengthening our superannuation system. Our superannuation system is the foundation for piece of mind for people who are looking forward to dignity in their retirement. There has been some comment around in the newspapers today about the superannuation reforms that were outlined by myself and Mr Shorten yesterday. It appears that some vested interests and newspapers are more concerned about what is happening with a very small number of very wealthy people who have millions of dollars in their superannuation accounts than they are with the superannuation savings of millions and millions and millions of Australian workers.

This Labor Government has put in place a very significant benefit worth up to $500 a year for 3.6 million low paid workers in Australia, to build up their superannuation, 56,000 of those workers live in this electorate; they're getting that very significant benefit to their superannuation and Tony Abbott wants to raid that benefit, he wants to rip that out, that's the war that Tony Abbott is waging on low paid workers in Australia, 3.6 million of them, worth $4 billion over the forward estimates and hitting 56,000 workers in this electorate. So we're pretty proud of what we're doing to build up super, to build it up for all Australians, to make it bigger, to make it stronger as our system matures. That's what the reforms were about that we announced yesterday and there was absolutely no change at all to payments. Superannuation payouts are still tax-free, they were tax-free yesterday, they're tax-free today – anyone who says the opposite is simply telling a bald-faced lie.

I also wanted to say a couple of things about Bronwyn, she is a community champion. She's a mum, she is involved in a range of community organisations. She's lived in the area for well over 20 years. She understands the importance of payments like the Schoolkids Bonus for families in this area; yet another payment that Tony Abbott wants to rip out and take away from average working people. So Bronwyn is badly needed in Canberra. We need someone who will stand up for the area, who will fight for the area in Canberra, and build on the achievements that this Labor government has already put in place in this local area. We are absolutely committed to this electorate and to making life better through our investment in infrastructure but also assisting local families with the cost of living. Over to you.

JOURNALIST:

Do you stand by the $120 million dollar Peak Downs Highway if Labor's returned (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

We absolutely stand by that commitment to the Peak Downs Highway. We have always supported it and we understand its importance to the life blood of this community but also its importance to safety. I know a lot of people in this area, and I know that road can be very dangerous. We made that commitment and we are going to deliver on that commitment. And because we understand the stresses and strains that come from rapid growth, that is why we committed ourselves to the Mackay Ring Road feasibility study. We've got to get that done. We've got to get the planning in place for the future of regions like this which is a very big part of the Australian economy, a real engine room for growth in the Australian economy and that means good planning now.

JOURNALIST:

Are you expecting more love for infrastructure out of the Federal Budget coming next month?

TREASURER:

Well I don't speculate about the outcomes of the Federal Budget. But I will tell you one thing. We have delivered for this region in spades, we will continue to deliver for this region. It is an economic powerhouse in the Australian economy its growing strongly and it is a government that has been actively engaged here. And we have been actively engaged here as we have right up and down the Queensland coast, because we understand who important this region is for the future of our great country.

JOURNALIST:

In terms of the Queensland campaign, you spoke last night at Bronwyn's campaign launch last night about jobs, will you be raging a war against Campbell Newman as well as Tony Abbott?

TREASURER:

Well there is no doubt that Tony Abbott has been to Queensland and given every one of Campbell Newman's cuts the big tick. So what Queenslanders are seeing when Campbell Newman has slashed 20,000 jobs is just a foretaste of what Tony Abbott will deliver right across Australia. Tony Abbott was off with all the Liberal royalty the other night at an event sponsored by an organisation called the IPA, The Institute of Public Affairs. An extreme right wing think tank who argues that there should be massive cuts to health and education. They don't believe in the social safety net. They don't believe in Medicare. They don't believe in in the equality of opportunity. They don't believe in a broad middle class. What they do believe in is making sure that the powerful in our community grab everything and the working people in our community don't get a fair go. And at that function the other night, Tony Abbott sat there at the IPA of all the liberal royalty and Rupert Murdoch and basically ticked off the IPA agenda. And the IPA agenda is the Campbell Newman agenda of slashing investment in health and education, bringing back Workchoices and getting really tough on low paid workers.

JOURNALIST:

What do you think of Bronwyn's opponent George Christensen?

TREASURER:

I don't think he makes much of a contribution in Canberra. You know he waltzes around a bit, he makes a few statements here and there, but he doesn't deliver. Now let's take one local example here. The new headspace here; this is a fantastic achievement for the area. Difficult to get, but one has been located here. Mental health, everyone here knows, anyone involved with young people here know that mental health issue are very high priorities for families and young Australians. He did nothing to do with securing that here. It was secured here by the hard work of the Labor Government working with local people like Bronwyn. He's out there and rubbished the commitment we made to the Peak Downs Highway. He obviously doesn't understand the importance of upgrading the Peak Downs Highway. What this community needs is a true community champion, in Bronwyn, they've got one. We are here today talking about what can be achieved and we can do a lot more.

JOURNALIST:

Do you expect the Opposition to support any of your superannuation measures?

TREASURER:

Well I've got no idea. They are so negative, they are so destructive, they go out every day and talk down our economy. Mr Abbott went out the other day and described our economy as being like Cyprus. How reckless, how destructive, how irresponsible can anybody be. We have an economy here which is 13 per cent larger than it was prior to the Global Financial crisis. We have come through the Global Financial Crisis in the best shape of just about the best shape of just about any developed economy in the world. Yes we have some challenges, we've got a higher dollar, we've got some real challenges to deal with, but we deal with those challenges from a position of strength. And why we are stronger than the rest of the world now is because this Labor Government had the courage at the height of the Global Financial Crisis to support jobs, and since that time 900,000 jobs have been created in Australia. Around the world millions and millions of people have lost their jobs. And you know what that wouldn't have happened if Tony Abbott had his way because he opposed the measures that we put in place to get this country strongly through the Global Financial Crisis. Our plan for the future is to continue to build on those strengths and one of the ways we do that is to reform superannuation and again here we are, Mr Abbott, recklessly negative, totally irresponsible, playing the most venal politics. Using the most destructive language, talking down our economy every minute, of every hour, of every day, over every week, in every year.

JOURNALIST:

The NBN been rolled out to Mackay at the moment, do you know about the Coalitions NBN policy launch yesterday is a bit of a backflip?

TREASURER:

Well they will rip it out won't they. We understand the importance of the NBN to regional areas. Every time I have come here, been, whether I've been to the Chamber of Commerce, wherever I've been, they all want the NBN, even if they're Liberals they want the NBN, because the NBN is the equivalent of the railways of the 21st Century. We need this to connect the country, to connect us to the world and lift our productivity to make sure we are really competitive in the Asian century.