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

28 May 2013

Doorstop Interview

Canberra

SUBJECTS: The Coalition's $1 billion hit on Mortgage Holders and Small Business Owners; Coalition Refusing to Support DisabilityCare Funding; National Security; Public Electoral Funding

TREASURER:

I just want to make a couple of points, and then of course I'm happy to take questions. Yesterday we've seen more evidence of the impact of Mr Abbott's unfair and very expensive paid parental leave scheme. It's going to impact to the tune of $1 billion a year on lenders and therefore push up interest rates for borrowers. Of course, these aren't just estimates of the banking industry, the banking industry has said between 10 and 25 basis points. Mr Abbott has said himself this, he said: "Well, obviously businesses do pass on costs and if there was a levy that was to fund something, yes that would be a cost."

Of course, Mr Hockey has backed him up. So, essentially they've admitted that their paid parental leave scheme, unfair and expensive, will push up interest rates on lots of people out there with mortgages, just at the time when interest rates are at record lows and people are making big savings. So he's going to push up the cost of living for many families with mortgages.

And also today, we've got in the papers a spokesperson for the Liberals saying they're now going to oppose some of the PHI legislation, which is an essential saving to fund the national disability insurance scheme - DisabilityCare Australia. We've had a lot of chest beating from the Liberals about they were going to front up for big saves, but [what they're] indicating now today in the papers, threaten the funding of DisabilityCare Australia. I think that just demonstrates what a shambles they are when it comes to the Budget.

JOURNALIST:

What would these mortgage movements mean to the average home?

TREASURER:

Well it's 10 to 25 basis points, essentially at the moment, people are making very big savings every time rates have gone down, I wouldn't put an exact figure on it, but it would cost some dollars per week.

JOURNALIST:

If the Budget is so tight, why is it appropriate for extra public funding for elections?

TREASURER:

The Government has reached agreement with the Liberal Party to put forward a compromise bill which will provide for disclosure and of course update public funding. Those matters are still being discussed and those matters will be out there once those discussions are concluded. But I'll just make this point: having a transparent electoral system is a very important thing for our country, particularly when it comes to political disclosure, the impact of donations, it's important that they're disclosed. That's part of the bill. There are discussions regarding public funding as well and those matters will be dealt with as we go through the normal legislative process.

JOURNALIST:

John Faulkner has described it reportedly as disgraceful, taxpayers will foot the bill will they?

TREASURER:

I wouldn't use those words at all when it comes to making sure that donations are disclosed, it's very important – we've got to make sure that we've got a political system that is open and which is transparent and the public can clearly see who is funding political parties and, of course, there has always been in our system now for many, many decades, a system of public funding as well as private donations [and it's] very important that private donations disclosed. So, those discussions are going on, there is an agreement with the Liberal Party, we're working our way through the legislation, we will be talking to you about all those once that is all concluded.

JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible) it doesn't match what you promised after the election though?

TREASURER:

I'm sorry, we're working our way through the process of getting a bill through the Parliament. Particularly when it comes to disclosure, there is an urgent need to get an updated figure for disclosure which makes sure our system is seen to be open and transparent. To do that, we've got to get a compromise with political parties. That's what the Government is working on, in good faith.

JOURNALIST:

Speaking of Budget pressures, in regards to, is that the reason why, what are the reasons why the ASIO building has done on over-budget? Is it because of reports that Chinese hackers have allegedly found the plans to the building, can you confirm that?

TREASURER:

No, I cannot confirm that. The fact is that these matters are handled by the Attorney-General. We're dealing with matters of national security here, I don't comment on those matters and neither does the Attorney-General.

JOURNALIST:

Is it embarrassing?

TREASURER:

Let's just take a step back here. When we're talking about espionage, cyber-espionage, these are all very serious matters. They are matters that the Government takes very seriously and has set up a centre precisely to deal with this in recent times. But over and above that, we don't deal with the operational details and no serious person would expect us to do that in public.

JOURNALIST:

Is this extra electoral funding just because the ALP is so cash strapped?

TREASURER:

No it's not. There has been a process ongoing here of trying to reach agreement with the Liberal Party about levels of disclosure and public funding.

JOURNALIST:

So you wouldn't do this if the Liberals (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

We've got to get a bill through the Parliament. People feel passionately, for example, about disclosure of donations. I've been passionate about disclosure of donations for a long period of time. If you're going to have disclosure regimes you have to have an element of public funding as well. This bill has been in discussion between the parties for some time. It needs to be concluded. Transparency in the electoral system demands it and the Government is working its way through those issues with agreement with the Liberal Party.

JOURNALIST:

It's a lot more money though?

TREASURER:

Let's just go through the issues. Public disclosure and public funding are linked. If you're going to have disclosure in private donations you have to have an element of public funding.

JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible) savings are undermining national security?

TREASURER:

I don't agree with those at all. There have been increases in the budgets of our national security agencies of some significance during our period in Government and that is entirely appropriate. Naturally, when we make savings, they are made across the board and the national security agencies are part and parcel of that process.