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Hello and welcome to Meet the Hello and welcome to Meet the Press.

Slugging it out. The Treasurer and

his shadow trade verbal blows over

that controversial appointment to

the Reserve Bank board. The whole

episode is tied up in your ham

fisted and pea hearted bid for the

lodge. And it should be disqualify

you from that job. Today, Wayne

Swan is a guest. And free speech

under threat from new sedition laws

aimeded at fighting terrorism. The

view from one of Australia's most

influential newspaper kpwroups. But

first, what the nation's stress

reporting this Sunday December 4.

All the papers report on the body

of executed drug smuggler Van

Nguyen leaving Singapore overnight

accompanied by his grieving mother

and brother. The Sunday age saying

Kim Nguyen has requested that the

funeral of her son be a celebration

of his life and not a political

rally. But his lawyer Lex Lasry

vows to carry on the fight against

State killing. The end of van's

life must not see the end of the

death penalty. campaign against the mandatory

Well this past week has seen the

Treasurer in the curious position

of defending tax halvens he

previously condemned and the

reason? His own hand picked

appointee to the Reserve Bank board

Robert Gerard ran foul of the Tax

Office for using one in what it

believed was a sham to evaed tax

and pursuing Peter Costello over

these bombshell developments is

Labor opponent Wayne Swan. Welcome

back Mr Swan. Good morning, Paul

Before we go to Mr Gerard and

associated issues, what do you

make or what do you think of the

proposal reported in today's

papers s by Peter Costello? The

Treasurer seems to be confused

because payments already go to the

primary carer and the primary

carer could be a grand parent or a

relative or even a neighbour. I do

know the Government has a welfare

reform bill in the parliament now

in the making for five or six

years which punishs sole parents

who move from welfare to work up to

$100 a week , so if the Treasurer

wants to rip up that bill and start

again, and have a constructive

discussion about genuine welfare

reform which invests in the

capacity of people and puts some

incentive in the tax system we will

be all for that. But I suppose the

fact of the matter would be and I

understand that he got the idea for

this on a visit to Cape York, that

if the parents are believed to be

the primary carers but they are

abusing their position that they

shouldn't have payments which they

can misuse or abuse? There's no

doubt that there are deeply

entreched problems in indigenous

communities and we're certainly in

the cart foresome constructive reform there but the giving of

guardianship, the recognition of

that, is in the hands of the States.

If the Treasurer is saying that the

Commonwealth is going to take over

responsibility for that, well,

he'll have to have a discussion

with the States and have to have a

discussion with us and he'll have

to bring those proposals to the

parliament. I just think it's

passing strange we're hear about in

this morning because this Treasurer

has been in office for 10 years and

if he's got a deeply held view

about this why haven't we heard it

before? Do you think it's a

diversion from his problems over

Gerard? There's no doubt it's a

diversion from his problems over Mr

Gerard. Mr Gerard has resigned,

maybe makes the Treasurer look

pretty bad at the end of the week

but u be that should be the end of

the matter? This Treasurer doesn't

know right from wrong. He knowingly

appointed Mr Gerard and he knew

that Mr Gerard was involved in tax

halvens, there are are serious

allegation of tax avoidance. He

did that in the full knowledge of

those events and then this week in

the parliament continued to defend

the appointment. We have a

Treasurer who doesn't know the

difference between right and wrong.

Is there anything left for Labor to

trawl over in this coming week in

parliament? Most certainly. We need

a frank full and truthful

explanation from Mr Costello

surrounding these events. For

example, did Mr Gerard tell him

about these events When, Mr Gerard

says that he told the Treasurer

about these matters, that the

Treasurer said I know that you have

a problem with the tax system or in

the tax system, but I don't have a

problem with. That if the Treasurer

said that to Mr Gerard, that renders him unfit to be the

'Financial Review' which broke the Treasurer of this country. Well the

Gerard story sayings whatever else

about the appointment it shows the

need for a radical change in the

way the board is chosen and

ironically Peter Costello seemed to

add to the argument. Let me remind

you of some of the appointments to

the Reserve Bank board made by

Labor Governments. First of all,

Labor appointed ACTU President Bob

Hawke to the Reserve Bank board.

Notoriously independent when it

came to political matters, Mr Bob

Hawke. Well Mr Swan, do you

undertake now to end the dlony

system of board appointment, no

more big party donor, no more

special friend? We got more

slippery talk from Peter Costello there. He appointed this man

despite the fact there was a 14

year battle with the Tax Office.

That's the issue. It's not that

he's a Liberal mate . The issue is

also his donations but the primary

sin here is that he appointed

someone involved with issues of

tax evation and tax halvens. If he had a system like the

Americans do whereby such important

appointments are scrutinise bid the

congresz , that would have come out.

Shound we have something like that

We need a more transparent and open

system and we need a system where

there are checks and balances.

Peter Costello is still saying -

Put some flesh on that? Peter

was nothing wrong with the Costello is still saying that there

appointment. And that it wasn't his

job to check. You see, there are

serious questions which need to be

answered here by the Treasurer.

What were the circumstances for

example surrounding the leter from

the tax commissioner relating to

his personal affairs rather than

his business affairs? For all of

these reasons a more open system,

one which is publicly accountable, people have talked about

parliamentary hearings, matters

like that, we certainly need a

systemic approach to checking, none

of that's occurred in this sort

sordied affair. That's a long way

from a cast iron guarantee from

Labor that you'd change the system

sth We're looking at all these

issues. We will change the system

and that you'll hear a lot from

Labor about that. Just finally,

it's mooted that Mr Ron walker

could possibly be another appointee

to the Reserve Bank board. Mr

Walker is in good standing in

Victoria certainly. The Victorian

state gft is very graift. For what

he's doing with the Commonwealth

Games? He has been Federal

Treasurer of the Liberal Party. He

has raised millions for the

Liberal Party. It seems to be the

new fall Commonwealth Games is that

you must be a Liberal Party donor.

We think that is entirely

inappropriate and it does not

uphold the high stands required He

is a successful businessman but we

have very high standardtor

appointment to the brerdbofplt they

must be seen to be independent and

of the highest integrity. His

involvement with the Liberal Party

and his funds raising activities

ought to preclude him from that Is

economic management still Labor's Achille's heel?

You're on Meet the Press with Wayne

Swan and welcome to the panel

Jennifer Hewett the Australian

'Financial Review' and Matthew

Franklin the 'Courier-Mail'. While

he was under heavy fire last week

the Treasurer was able to defend

himself with a very bullish report

from the OECD on Australia's

economic management. And

confirmation of ore triple A credit

rating from the international

credit rating agency, Standard and

Poors. It was Labor that ran

Australia's credit rating down and

it was the coalition that ran it up

again. And the consequence of that

of course is lower interest rates.

Now Mr Swan, Labor still not

against that type of attack is it.

According to polls you're economic

management skills are still much

below the Governments. How do you

counter that? We need to put forward positive economic policys

for the future. We need a range of

policies which go through taxation,

infrastructure, skills and

education, and we're out there

talking to the business community

and developing those policies and

releasing them one by one. Kim

Beazley last week made a major

statement on infrastructure. That

is parliament of building the 8

pillars that wee see as the es

sense to future economic growth

When you release thing, one of the

things that's obviously been in the

news has been Mr Gerard. When will

you release your policy on appointments to the Reserve Bank

board. Why not do it right now?

We're looking at all of the

alternativing here. We need

enhanced checks and balances.

Greater transparentsy, for example

in the United States there are

congressal hearings. You'll here

from us in good time Why not commit

yourself? You'll here from us in

good time. Good time will be when

we release those details. Why

should anybody believe you? Every

party in opposition in history

always says they're going to clean

this up and they never do? We

committed ourselfs to the

independence of the Reserve Bank

board in that period 1tment 94,

956789 we think it's it served the

country well. The independence of

the board has been put in doubt by

the appointment oMr Gerard. Someone

involved in a 14 year tax battle

with the Tax Office and the

Government. We think it is

important to clear it up and you'll

see from Labor positive

alternatives So we'll have to wait

till next year? You'll see positive

alternatives. On industrial

relations Kim Beazley said a number

of times he thinks that this will

possibly be deliver Labor

Government? The at the same time

you've been trying to improve

Labor's links with the business

community. So, just when the

election campaign comes how do you

not alienate business with a

proposal to unscramble the

industrial relations net There's

not strong support in the business

community for this unfair

proposals that have been put

forward by the Government. There's

not a productivity agenda in these

proposals. They are simply an

unfair attack only wages and

working condition of Australians

with no benefit all in terms of

productivity. The Treasurer won't

release the Treasury modelling on

this because it doesn't support his

claims of higher wages and more

jobs, so these proposals are not

seen in a positive light by large

sections of the business community.

We need a broader based agdy which

comes to wipblgs, working

conditions, skills of the workforce,

addressing the skills crisis,

positive proposals in term of

infrastructure, this is part of a

much broader agenda for growth and

protecting our prosperity How can

you see there's not much support in

the business community. From the

BTA is movarious business groups

they've all supported them In BCA

has a fair wider agenda and if you

look at their taizing, they're

talking about national leadership

on infrastructure, National

leadership, when it come to skills

and education. Real initiatives in

terms of dealing with the

regulatatory burden. We need a

broad based ambitious aagda for

the future. Not the narrow one from

John Howard But also one that

doesn't exclude IR reform. Many in

the business community are at best

am biflent about these reforms and

do not see them as making any significant contribution to improving productivity in the the

Australian workforce and doing

something about our declining

international comifness Are you

going to abol I shall the system

once it's in place. Go back to a

State based system? Kim Beazley

and Stephen Smith have been talking

about the alternative frame work

and have made it very clear an alternative frame work will be

announced during the next year and

that's entirely the responsible

thing to do. These bills only

passed the Senate last week. We

will look at alternative positive

frame work and people will see that

well before the next election.

Kim Beazley likens the industrial

relationings issue to a termite

infestation in a house. If the

economy stays strong the bad

effects that you predict may not

become apparent in time for the

next election? There's no doubt

that these proposals undermine

fairness in the work place.

Completely undermine it. As the

economy remains strong, you may not

necessarily see immediately large

number of people receive

substantial reductions in term of

their beiges and conditions but

they will begin to eat their way

over the next couple of years. We

need tout out there our alternative

economic framework. We'll be doing

that including our I a approach to

industrial relationings What about

tax. There's obviously the

Government will move the agenda to

tax. You were out outflank odd than

this year. Will you give for

example relief to high income

earners as some people in the

Government and the Labor Party have

suggested you need to do? We've

made tax reform a very high

priority and what we say is we

should have fewer and lower

marginal rates, in can be done,

including the top marginal rate

but this can be done responsibly,

it can be done in a rev knew

neutral way. If we look at all the

other systems, the condition

session, compliance and so on. Tax

reform is urgent to enhance our

productivity and put some incentive

into the system, particularly for

those low and middle income earners

hit for six by John Howard and

Peter Costello. So will we have to

wait until after the Government's

put out their tax policies again?

Well Jenny, we will produce an

alternative framework and people

will know where Labor stands on tax well before the next election. It's

a moving feast. Peter Costello now

says his priority is to deal with

97% of people he he left out of the

last two budgets. We'll put out the

principle it is framework and people will see poof people will see poof Labor

alternative. Just on that Peter

Costello, the Liberal Party

leadership will become an issue in

inn ceasingly. Isn't he within of

Labor's better hopes? Peter

Costello's leadership prospects

have hit a brick wall Matt. A brick

wall called Robert Gerard. But then

the every is John Howard who's

beaten Labor three times. Isn't

that a problem pore you as well? We

say same tea pot, different cosy.

On the other hand, Labor's great hope that Peter Costello actually

becomess the leader. Oof called him

pea hearted. Do you think that's

likely to happen now. We can't

predicate our political and policy

strategies based on whether it's

Peter Costello or John Howard. We

have to put... The Labor are doing

that? I'm not doing that because

what we have oto do is win in our

right putting forward a positive alternative with Kim Beazley.

That's what we'll do. We'll

campaign against the unfairness of

the their workplace relations laws,

the unfairness of the welfare

system, the unfairness of the tax

system but through all of that

people will see a positive Labor alternative across all of those

areas. Is it frustrating for Labor

that although recent polls showed

you're ahead in two party preferred

terms, Kim Beazley's personal

rating continues to be in the

cellar? Can Labor win with Kim

Beazley as the leader? Absolutely

Labor can win with Kim Beazley as

leader. He's been very clear. Be

all the way with John Howard on terrorism but he's certainly

against John Howard in termings

over his war on the work place Does

it worry you that he doesn't seem

to be exiting the electorate I

think's doing well. We are ahead in

the polls. Polls go up and down but

Kim Beazley has put news a winning

position and I believe that he he has the confidence of the

Australian people when it comes to

these key area of national security

and economic system. Is there any

doubt he'll lead Labor to the next

election None whatever Thanks for

joining us today Wayne Swan.

Coming up, Bruce Wolpe still has

concerns for a free press despite

Government assurances. In the

cartoon of the beak Nicholson in

the 'Australian' has this take on

the Gerard appointment. Peter

Costello asks 'Anything I should

know about your tax afares" Robert

Gerard answers "Absolutely not. His

thought bubbles continues, just a

few things you shouldn't know."

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You're on Meet the Press. Last week

a delegation from Australia's

leading media organisations went to

Canberra to argue against the

sedition laws in the new

anti-terror bills. At stake in

their view was a core value of a

free society. The ability of the

media to report on the activities

of a Government and its agencies

and to hold them accountable. Bruce

Wolpe from Fairfax newspapers,

mirbers of the take, 'Sydney

Morning Herald' and the Australian

'Financial Review'. He joins us .

You weren't alone in your concerns

Liberal Senator George Brandis

shared them but believes his party

room committee has saved the day.

That the argument about decision

was an argument about freedom of

speech. The most important

amendment to the bill the

Attorney-General and the PM

announced last night was the

inclusion of an absolute defence to

protect freedom of political speech

freedom of reportage and commentary.

Now that's what the argument was

about and that's what's been

achieved You're still not

satisfied, why? Sedition and a free

press cannot safely and peaceibly

co-exist and sedition is just

hostile to the notion of a free

press. We lost the fight to take

sedition out of the bill but

because of what Senator Brandis,

Malcolm Turnbull and because the

Attorney-General listened to a

concern, there will be an amendment

to provides for a defence a much

stronger defence, for publishing,

matters of public interest in good

faith. That is comfort but you

cannot be comfortable with a

sedition rejeem Can politicians be

trusted not to abuse these sorts of

laws in a democracy, doesn't it

require, absolute transparency? It

does. There is one further not

safeguard but a condition of the

bill. The Attorney-General has to

approve every prosecution under

this bill. This son his watch and

we're going to see how he uses this power.

Putting aside the issue of sedition

these laws contain a provision that

limits what the media can report

about terrorism suspects under

these control orders. What's the

danger in such reporting? We

believe this is a very series

concern ffrpl you can't report on

how someone is being detained, the

conditions under which they're

being detained in then situations

like grab grab can not be reported

a so abuse cannot be reported. When

you report about terrorist offences

and people of trr, most people in

the community want law enforcement

so they come forward and they aid

the police, reporting actually is

law enforcement tool. If you gag

the media about what that can

report about terrorism and

detention you're undercutting law enforcement.

The US is obviously a terrorist

target and yet it has no such

reindustrial relationss because of

its freedom of speech karpbtst

guarantees. Do you think haus

Australia has the wrong end of the

stick. Should there be any case at

all for any types of laws about

what you can print? America has the

first amendment which is just a

pillar of freed yoch of speech and

association. Australia will work

out its own constitutional

processes as it should. The country

needs to have free expressionings.

It's in common law and, but there

are even limitation in the United

States. You not shoud fire in a

couted theer. You have criminal

laws about incitement to violence.

That's where they can come in and

do you think the Government is provide a law enforcement tool Why

pushing this so hard? You've said

there's no operational reason. What

is the reason? There was no evidence in the Senate committee

for operational terms. ACO

testified. There was no operatal

severe challenge the Government evident given N a time ofteror and

wants all the tools in its arsenal

to go after extremist speech, that

maybe seen as inciting violence

but our belief is first get these

laws right, they're rushing tone

act them eeven recognising that they're through aed. They're going

to the law reform commission even

before they're enacted and they're

proceeding with grate haste. Mr

Wolpe, Tanberg in the age summed it

up this way he had John Howard

saying we won't be locking up

cartoonist, if editors don publish

their work in does seem to be a

problem here. Self-censorship. They

say we're not going to charge you,

there will be public interest but editors could become very timid

couldn't they? They could. But I do

think that the defence being

provided in the bill will provide

comfort to mainstream press. I

believe it pwhai tested again. Whether the Attorney-General uses

his authority. It's something. It's

better than nothing, better is

better but still yesing there is a

grave concern over sedition. One 30

second history lesson. The first

use of sedition in a democracy was

with a another country, in Iraq.

There were beheadingment frpbs in

the 17930. The decision act of - he

used it to close down 25 newspaper

and jailed editors but the good

news is he lost the election of 1800 because if people thought it

was an overreach of power Do you see newspaper organisations as

being overactive on this? Yes, all

of the media. I'm here but news,

West Australian news AAP, free

television aurbgs commercial raid

yes. ABC, SBSing never been so

uteed to come together on an

important issue this and they have

Why is the Government just in the

listening? I know Brandis has

claimed a lit bit of victory but

it's a very hodest victory. You

have to talk with them. My sense

from talking with them is they want

everything possibly, if these laws

came in after the bombing in London,

that's the again sis of them and I

think the Government says we are

not going to be daugt short if

something horrible happens here and

we want on the books everything in

the arsenal to combat. The PM said

in other circumstances I would

never have sought these additional

powers but we live in dangerous and

threatening times. I think that's

the reason for these laws Do you

think that the public is concerned

about these laws or is it really just the media and nobody else

really cares that much? I think

people love freedom and I think

they are very worried when the

state abuses power to muzzle the

press or association or speech. We

haven't seen it yet, but I think

people in their hearts like freedom

Do you think that perhaps feeding

public concern might be the view

that the media generally are all at

faut for not being responsible

enough? No, I think, in fact our

newspapers we have withheld

publication on stories from the and

on operational issues here . Enwhen

the authorities come to us and say

don't publish lives are at stake,

we've withheld publication. It is a

fine line but you can't have the

Government control it. People have

to act in the interestings of

society and be good citizens and

the press is a good citizen Do you

think Australians are as alert as

Americans to the right to know? Yes.

Look at the question that goes on

in every matter in Government and

transprpbtsy is crucial to

functioning of a democracy. Thank

you very much for joining us to

today, Wolpe and thnks to the panel,

Jennifer Hewett and Matthew

Franklin. That was our final show

for the year sound till next year,

Supertext Captions by the goodbye and a happy fastive season. Australian Caption Centre