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

14 June 2013

Doorstop Interview

Joint doorstop interview with
the Hon Graham Perrett MP
Member for Moreton

Brisbane

SUBJECTS: Mains & Kessels Road Upgrade, National School Improvement Plan, Infrastructure investment Mr Howard Sattler's Offensive Questions, ALP Leadership

PERRETT:

Good afternoon. I'd just like to welcome the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer to my electorate of Moreton. We're at the second busiest road intersection in Queensland. Also it's the busiest bus route that's not a bus way. So I've been dragging Wayne Swan along to this intersection for five or six years now. I just wanted to show him today, the progress that has been made. We are half way through the construction of what will be a great separation. It will free up the south side and a lot of the traffic concerns all the way through to the Gold Coast, all the way through to Beaudesert and particularly the southern part of my electorate.

This intersection has 80,000 to 90,000 movements a day. The construction has been incredible and they have been able to keep the intersection open the entire way through construction. We've got businesses still humming along, pedestrians using it. We've got park and ride, we've got Griffith University people going to QE2 Hospital down the road all the time this intersection has been open and I just wanted to show the Deputy Prime Minister that the $300 million that the Federal Government has invested into this intersection has been well spent. It would have been nice to see the state government come along but obviously the transport Minister got busy at the last minute and wasn't able to see it. Thanks Wayne.

TREASURER:

Thanks very much, Graham. Look it is great to be out here with you to look at the progress on this very important project. Almost $300 million in federal money – largely because of the lobbying efforts of Graham Perrett – out here in here in Morton, because he understands the difference that this federal investment will make to this local community but also to the city of Brisbane and further afar. This is a vital transport link and if you don't get these things right for the long term, then cities suffer with traffic congestion and the impacts upon the quality of life. So we're pretty proud of this fundamental investment here on Brisbane's south side. It's yet another example of why a government committed to nation-building is so important to people who live in the wider Brisbane area.

Also, I think, what's pretty evident today too is the importance of investing in the education of our kids. So Graham and I have been out and about at local schools this morning. I was out at Taigum State School in my electorate and Graham has been out at local schools this morning talking to parents and to teachers about the importance of investing in human capital. It's very important to invest in physical capital such as road and rail. We have a big program here in Queensland. If only the State Government would come to the party and join the Commonwealth in co-investment. They won't invest in cross city rail. They won't invest necessarily in the Gateway North project – another vital transport project. They won't invest fundamentally, in the future of our young people because Essentially Mr Abbott and Mr Newman will cut to the bone in these vital areas that go to the core of our future economic prosperity.

I've also seen a couple of disturbing stories around in the last 24 hours as well. First of all, we had the Benny Hill routine from the Premier yesterday in and out of a state school. When we had the perfectly logical proposition that a Federal Minister that wants to invest more resources in our schools wasn't allowed to actually go in and talk to the teachers and the parents. I think it really demonstrates just how negative the Liberals are when it comes to these vital investments.

And of course, we've seen the revelations on the front page of the Courier Mail today and of course, these allegations of seat shopping for the Premier stink to high heaven. I think we need to see a fairly thorough investigation of these allegations, in particular because a member of Mr Abbott's team is involved in these allegations, Mr Barry O'Sullivan. So I hope they are thoroughly investigated by the authorities here in Queensland because there is a Bjelke-Petersen-era whiff about the antics of the Premier yesterday at the schools, and once again in all of these revelations that we are seeing in the Courier Mail today. Over to you.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Swan, on infrastructure. With the $715 million on the table for Cross River Rail; is there a time limit on that? If Queensland doesn't want that money can you take it off them and give it to another state that does want it?

TREASURER:

Well, I think we want to get this project done and we assumed the Queensland Minister did as well. I mean, the Transport Minister who couldn't suddenly turn up today, just pulled out in the last 24 hours, just like he pulled out on all his agreements with Minister Albanese. I mean really the game playing coming out of the Queensland government at the moment knows no bounds. We are really interested in getting this done because if we don't get Cross City Rail done here, then this city is going to be captured by gridlock in five or six years' time. So it remains on the table and we remain serious about getting it done.

The real threat here isn't even if the Queensland Government came to the party, it would be if Mr Abbott was in power because he's made it very clear that he won't invest in rail and urban public transport. He has said that point-blank. The only chance of getting this done is a Gillard Government working constructively with state governments and we need to see some more common sense out of the Queensland government. We're not seeing a lot of that at the moment.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer is this just a little bit of game playing that you yourself have been engaged in this morning [inaudible] outside schools?

TREASURER:

It's a very serious proposition that we've put to the Queensland Government, an additional $3.8bn dollars over 6 years, the end product of years of policy making. Let's just go through what we've been doing in education. We had the Gonski committee appointed. It had a thorough investigation of the funding model of Australian schools over a long period of time. It travelled the country talking to all of the major stakeholders. It has made its report, we have been talking to State Governments about how we can implement that report. And, of course, some months ago we had the NSW Government sign up to these proposals with the NSW Education Minister saying the deal was ‘too good to refuse'. But what we are seeing here is game playing by the Queensland Government. There's a lot on the line here. Queenslanders want their kids to get the best education possible. We need a new funding model that delivers the additional resources to the classroom in literacy, additional resources in terms of providing the back-up teachers. All of these things are provided for in a comprehensive report which has been the subject of extensive negotiation between the Commonwealth and the States over a period of around a year. I don't think anybody could say anything other than the Commonwealth Government has come to the table with the best possible faith and the best possible preparation. What we've had here is more game playing by Mr Abbott and Mr Newman but not from Mr O'Farrell in NSW.

JOURNALIST:

Are you willing to increase the offer to Queensland considering that's what the Prime Minister did with WA?

TREASURER:

Well the Prime Minister has been talking to each state and we have been having a sensible discussion and negotiation, but apparently – like the Queensland Government has pulled the pin on this visit – like they've pulled the pin on Cross River Rail, like they've pulled the pin on the Gateway North, all of these things have just suddenly disappeared because they're playing a game. Mr Newman and Mr Abbott have got a common agenda and in that common agenda the people of Queensland come last, well behind what they judge to be their immediate political interest.

JOURNALIST:

You control the purse strings though, are you willing to open up them to offer Queensland [inaudible]

TREASURER:

Well we've said we will sit down and talk to Queensland and we're continuing to do that but there's a question over here that I'm happy to take.

JOURNALIST:

Is standing outside the school gate is that really a sign that you're trying to co-operate with the Queensland Government [inaudible]

TREASURER:

Well I represent 40 odd schools in my electorate of Lilley and all of my political life, the whole time I've been the member. I've been a regular visitor to those schools. I go regularly to my schools. I go to their speech nights. I go to their award presentations. I am in and out of those schools, because like Graham, I'm a member of the Labor Party and the reason I fundamentally joined the Labor Party was to get involved in a political party that saw education as the driver of opportunity and prosperity. Many of us of our era got involved in politics because we saw education as the way ahead. It's the reason we're in politics in the first place, to ensure that every child gets the best possible start in life at school, from their pre-school all the way through. And in these Gonski reforms there could be nothing more important to the future of our country so there's nothing new about Graham or I turning up at a school. What is new is that we've been locked-out. So what I found this morning was that I couldn't get necessarily the access to the paernts because ei didn't want to go into the school and have that cause a problem for the school. So, the decision not to allow Federal members into schools is a Bjelke-Petersen era-style approach from Premier Newman that we are now seeing across a whole range of areas. It's a throw back. A throw back to the 70's and that's of course what we're seeing on the front page of the Courier Mail today, a throwback to an era that Queenslanders thought we had left behind. We had a new era for a number of years of accountability where there was a commitment to investigate the sort of serious allegations that we see on the front page of the Courier Mail that are reminiscent of the Bjelke-Petersen era and I think that's a sad thing for Queensland.

JOURNALIST:

What's your view of the recent treatment of the Prime Minister on radio?

TREASURER:

Well I think the Questions from Mr Sattler were disgraceful. They wouldn't be questions that would be directed to myself or any other Minister or indeed have ever been directed to any other Prime Minister. And once again you know I thought this was – this type of behaviour and these type of questions from a broad range of people – not just Mr Sattler – has really been a throwback to an era of crude sexism and intolerance which I also thought we had left behind. And parts of it sadly, have infiltrated parts of the political system particularly into the Liberal Party as we saw last year with the Liberal Party fundraiser and Alan Jones. All of that is regrettable. I thought we'd put it behind us, and of course the Prime Minister treated that, those sorts of questions and the discussions, she handled that with great dignity.

JOURNALIST:

Do you understand the concerns of some backbenchers that they might be going to lose their seats at the election that they might be contemplating a leadership [inaudible]

TREASURER:

Well look I've been reading these reports about all of these matters and look most of them are fiction. But I'm not going to spend my time responding to rumour, innuendo, interpretations of polls that may or may not have happened, which may or may not have had a sample, which may not even have been done if the truth be known. What people like Graham and I are going to do, is what we've been doing today, out there talking about the issues that matter directly to the Australian people. We've got a very big agenda for the future. A big agenda not just to make Australia stronger, in terms of the economy, but smarter in terms of the investments for the future and fairer in terms of the investments in DisabilityCare and that's what we'll continue to do.

Thank you.