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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House, Canberra: Tuesday 9 September 2003: family tax benefit, John Anderson, Bill Ludwig.

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Wayne Swan MP Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP INTERVIEW, PARLIAMENT HOUSE CANBERRA, TUESDAY 9 SEPTEMBER 2003 - E & OE - PROOF ONLY SUBJECT: FAMILY TAX BENEFIT, JOHN ANDERSON, BILL LUDWIG SWAN: Yesterday Senator Vanstone was out saying what a jolly good fellow she is because she was going to allow an extra year for people to claim their top-ups in the family payment system. But the truth is most families can’t afford to wait until the end of the financial year to get their payments. Well there is one figure she wouldn’t talk about yesterday, and that’s the $1 billion worth of debts for Australian families in the first two years of the system’s operation. And the other figure she didn’t mention was that for those two years, families still owe $373 million. So that’s a huge financial burden for Australian families, which won’t be affected by Senator Vanstone’s announcement. So what we have to do is change the system, get rid of the debt trap in the family payments system, get rid of the financial squeeze that’s hitting Australian families, reform the system, get rid of the estimation process, so Australian families can get their payments when they need them. I was just going to make a couple of comments about John Anderson. We’ve been through the farce about whether he’ll go or whether he’ll stay. I think this process just sums out what is absolutely wrong with the Howard Government. It has become arrogant and it has become lazy. John Anderson himself has been weak. He has not stood up for regional Australia; he hasn’t stood up for those families in the regions hit with these family payment debts. He’s not stood up for our national security - he’s done nothing for airport security as we saw in the parliament yesterday. What we’ve now got is a complacent, arrogant and lazy government and that’s what this process with the leadership of the National Party really demonstrates. JOURNALIST: indistinct… SWAN: Well what about reform for the battlers in the bush? What about fixing up the family payments system? What about all those pensioners who live in regional Australia who are now getting debts of $10,000 and $20,000 because the Government has bungled its administration of payments to pensioners. These are people who deserve some attention. But the Government is not out there listening to people, not dealing effectively with bread and butter issues - that’s the problem - we’ve now got a very lazy, arrogant and incompetent Government across the board. Its not just John Anderson. Take Senator Vanstone. She is a classic example of how arrogant and out of touch this Government has become. 1

JOURNALIST: Should Bill Ludwig be saying that Kim Beazley should come back?

SWAN: Well Bill Ludwig like anyone else in the labour movement is entitled to his opinion. Now some months ago we had a debate about who should be captain of the team. Simon was re-elected. The job for each of us, whether we’re playing full forward or half back, is to get in there and beat the Howard Government. That’s what we need to do, that’s what we’re doing in the parliament and each and every one of us on the frontbench has to shoulder our share of responsibility and get out there and take the fight up to the Howard Government.

JOURNALIST: Do you disagree with Bill Ludwig’s latest statement?

SWAN: Well I think that what we have to do is back our leader, be a team in the parliament, put forward the alternative policies, take the battle up to the Government in the parliament and that’s what we’re doing. That’s the course of action we decided upon some months ago.

JOURNALIST: Are you concerned you might lose your seat? The internal polling that was out yesterday said all Federal Queensland ALP members could lose their seats?

SWAN: No I’m not concerned that I might lose my seat. All I can do as a local representative in the Federal Parliament is work as hard as I can both in my electorate and in the parliament that’s what I do and its not a question of whether I win or I lose my seat. Its a question of how can we defeat the Howard Government so we can rebuild Medicare, get equality of opportunity into the educational system and lift the financial squeeze on low and middle income families. Go out there and ask Australian families if they are any better off than they were seven or eight years ago and most would say they are not.

JOURNALIST: I mean selling those messages are held up enormously by speculation from the likes of Bill Ludwig aren’t they?

SWAN: The labour movement is a broad movement and people are entitled to their opinion. But here in the Federal Labor Party Caucus we had a decision on that question some months ago. Simon was re-elected as our captain. All of us on the team have a responsibility to get out there and do our best to win. That’s what we are doing, that’s what we have be doing in the parliament, and that’s what we will continue to do.

JOURNALIST: Would you welcome Bob Carr to the Federal Labor ranks?

SWAN: Well absolutely. I think anyone who’s interested in

winning would welcome Bob Carr to our team. Simon’s said that. All of our frontbench have said that if he wants to come down here he is welcome.

JOURNALIST: indistinct

SWAN: Bob Carr? Well he’s not in the Parliament so that’s a bit


JOURNALIST: Indistinct



SWAN: I don’t know whether he could become the leader. He is

certainly not in contention for the leadership in this election cycle - no way in the world. He’s not in the parliament yet. Bob Carr is welcome as is anyone else who can make a significant contribution in the Parliament, be it from the backbench or the frontbench. I mean we are all interested in building the strongest possible team we can to get behind our captain Simon and deliver for Australian families who are under enormous financial pressure.

I was talking to a bloke at my mobile office on Saturday. He had paid $180 to go to the doctor for himself, his wife and his two kids. No bulk billing - $45 a pop. People like that are under significant financial pressure. We’ve got plans to rebuild, reconstruct Medicare to do things for that man’s family. That’s what it is all about. It’s not about whether I win my seat or whether Bob Carr comes to Canberra, it’s about doing something for those people.

ENDS Tuesday 09 Sept 03 Web:

Contact: Wayne Swan on 0418 795 329 Matt Linden on 0407 430 613