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

11 April 2013

Press conference


Joint transcript with
the Hon Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister

SUBJECTS: Remarks to First B20 Leadership Group Meeting


Can I thank everybody for stepping forward and accepting the invitation to be involved in the B20. I know that this is a room of very busy people with very major responsibilities, and to take on another responsibility is a big thing to ask.

But I did want to say the work will be worthwhile because of the opportunity in front of us; how big that opportunity is.

And it's a big opportunity for us as a nation and for the business community of Australia, and there's a lot we can do working together to shape this opportunity.

To just set the back-drop, of course we are a nation that can say we worked hard together to come out of the global financial crisis well and any time you travel overseas we are reminded of the strength of that achieved.

It is a good time for Australia on the world stage, we have got the endorsement of countries around the globe to be on the UN Security Council; we've got their trust and confidence to take that role.

We have worked to strengthen relationships with so many of our key partners.

If we look around our region of the world, as Prime Minister I've certainly worked to take the next step in our historically deep relationship with the United States as it rebalances towards our region of the world.

I've worked to strengthen our long standing relationship with Japan, and I think we've injected some new warmth into that relationship because I was the first foreign leader to travel there after the tsunami which was very much valued.

I've cleared out of the way some of the difficulties that we had with India and created a strategic partnership there which stands us well for the future.

We continue to strengthen and diversify a good relationship with Indonesia, and now of course, following my visit to China, we have reached a new level in our relationship with China.

Now, all of these things come about because of patient and long-term work.

What we were able to secure in China actually started more than 12 months ago and it's been a day-by-day proposition to shape it, but that work pays dividends.

What is true of those relationships is also true as we shape the G20 being hosted in Australia.

It will take a lot of work but it is a huge opportunity to see the leaders of the world's major economies gather here representing as they do 85 per cent of the global economy, 80 per cent of world trade, two-thirds of the world's population all gathered in Australia.

There's the leader-to-leader dialogue and there are many issues that we need to work through at that level.

The G20 has a strong focus on jobs and growth. It's been a great response mechanism during the depths of the global financial crisis.

It will be part of our responsibility to ensure that there is new impetus in the G20 for jobs and growth as economies around the world move into recovery, some more quickly than others.

And we will have things to do too, like considering difficult questions on protectionism and free trade because the agreed standstill on new protectionist measures comes to an end in 2014, so what agreement we can secure here in 2014 is pivotal for the future of world trade.

So there's a lot to do at the leader level, but I want this to be a genuinely inclusive process that gives the business community a real opportunity to be involved, that the opportunity is also extended to labour, to civil society, to young Australians and particularly young entrepreneurs.

I have participated in a number of multilateral engagements now and bilateral engagements where there are business forums as part of the work.

They can, if they aren't carefully structured, be discussions of platitudes. That's not what I want for the B20.

I don't want it to be a glamorous courtesy call. I want it to be something of real substance.

To achieve that we've got to do the hard thinking now; we've got to be very clear about the priorities of the B20. If we try and put a priority on everything then we may as well have prioritised nothing.

You know that in your day-to-day work where you've got to be very rigorous about the setting of priorities for your businesses – that is true of the engagement in the B20.

For it to make a real difference at leader level, it not only has to be sharp on the priorities but sharp on the perspectives for the future.

What is it that you are asking leaders to do and to take away with them after this engagement – that message needs crystal clear.

As well as thinking about how we prioritise and get the measure to the assembled leaders, there's of course all of the opportunities that come with business-to-business interface.

We will have some of the best and brightest global business leaders here. This is a good opportunity to expand our business network and our set of business opportunities, and how we best seize that of course falls to us working in partnership with this group.

So, I'm really looking forward to it. I'm very enthusiastic about the task.

I certainly come back from China with a real sense of optimism and confidence about what we can achieve as a nation and in this format.

We worked hard to secure the G20 here. We're going to get to showcase our nation. We're going to get to showcase Queensland.

And what better introduction could there be to the Deputy Prime Minister than that, so I'll hand over to him now.


Thanks very much Prime Minister. It's not only an opportunity to showcase our nation and also a chance to showcase Queensland.

But it's also an opportunity, a really important opportunity for Australia to mould a global agenda through the G20.

Those of us who sat around the table almost five years ago – when critical decisions had to be taken, where there was a need for cooperation between the developed world and the developing world – knew a lot was a stake.

And what we got from that for period of a couple of years was a common purpose.

Not just a common purpose between developed and developing countries but also between communities, and most particularly I think between business communities.

So I think there's a real opportunity here for the business community in particular, but civil society more broadly, to input into a broader and better G20 agenda.

As the Prime Minister said before, sometimes if we're doing too many things at the G20, the central purpose gets lost.

We've had I think a very good speech by Christine Lagarde overnight which makes this very important point, and this is what we've been arguing right through the last five years at the G20, and it's more important than ever right now that the G20 must concentrate on an agenda which lifts growth. An agenda which creates wealth, lifts growth and therefore supports job creation.

Because if you look around the global economy at the moment we're doing pretty well here, but plenty of other countries are not.

With very high levels of unemployment around the world the G20 needs to refocus on a growth agenda to support jobs in both the developed and developing world.

And of course at the moment with global growth having a three in front of it, we're not making the progress that we need to make to not only create jobs and develop countries but to lift people out of poverty within countries.

So this is a great opportunity for us at every level – government-to-government, business-to-business, civil society-to-civil society – to try and refocus that agenda back to an agenda of growth.

Growth means jobs and very clearly stating that in a way which people in the street see the benefit of the G20; so much of the discussion gets so technical that it simply gets lost.

But really what's at stake here is jobs through growth and getting that agenda fairly focused through the G20.

So that's what we'll be trying to do and I'm really looking forward to working with each and every one of you in doing that.

There's a big debate, as Christine Lagarde said overnight, about the extent to which fiscal policy, particularly in developed nations, is too tight in the short-term and not tight enough in the long-term.

This has really got to be a debate about lifting growth so we can get jobs, and how we do it in the short-term but as well as the long-term, and all of the structural reforms that drive that, whether it is investments in infrastructure, education, regulatory reform – all of those things.

And given our record of reform as a country over 30 years we are ideally placed to lead that debate and to basically make a very significant contribution and I think we can do that together.