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Treasurer-designate discusses election result; and portfolio allocation.

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WAYNE SWAN MP Federal Member for Lilley



SUBJECTS: Election, portfolio allocation

FAINE: Mr Swan, congratulations.

SWAN: Good morning Jon. Thanks very much.

FAINE: How does it feel? I asked Alexander Downer how the Prime Minister was feeling. How are you feeling?

SWAN: Well, it’s an exciting time for all of us in the Labor Party and we take our new responsibilities very seriously so yesterday we got down to work. I spent yesterday afternoon receiving briefings from Treasury, so there’s a lot of work to do and we’ve got to get stuck into it.

FAINE: You’re one who doesn’t have to worry about the job that he’ll be allotted but there are plenty of others jockeying for position. Can you confirm Thursday the portfolios will be allocated?

SWAN: No I can’t confirm that but I think Kevin will certainly get down to this task pretty quickly.

FAINE: Are you able to tell us on what basis the jobs will be distributed? Is there some argy bargy between factions, between states and the like? Will first time members - Greg Combet, Bill Shorten- will they be given the chance as parliamentarians to be ministers?

SWAN: I think Kevin Rudd made it very clear that he’s going to allocate the portfolios based on merit. We’ve got a very talented front bench at the moment and we’ve got plenty of talented people coming into the Caucus, so we’ve got an exciting range of people to choose from. But Kevin’s going to put all of that factional rivalry aside and choose a front bench based on merit and based on performance.

FAINE: And gender?

SWAN: And gender, yes. We’ve got a range of women out there. It’s very exciting for example to have the first female Deputy Prime Minister. We’ve got people like Jenny Macklin, Nicola Roxon, Penny Wong, Tanya Plibersek. We’ve got a great bunch of women out there who will make a very significant contribution to our front bench.

FAINE: The extent of the swing and the extent of the win - did that surprise you?

SWAN: I think it’s been clear for a long time Jon that there’s a very strong mood for change out there and it certainly came through in spades on the night right across the country and even Victoria the swings were still strong because as you know, we’re at a high level of support

already in Victoria and to see those strong swings down there I think confirmed, yet again, the strong mood for change right across the country.

FAINE: My head is so full of figures, and percentages and swings and the like but I’m fairly confident that somewhere I saw that the Labor Party recorded its highest primary vote in Victoria.

Why are the Victorians more Labor-oriented than anywhere else in the country I wonder?

SWAN: Well it’s a very interesting question but it’s been the case I think for a long period of time now. Certainly the last 10 or 15 years Victoria has been very strong for Labor at both a State and Federal level.

FAINE: Have you been in touch with your opposite number, Peter Costello?

SWAN: No I haven’t as yet but I certainly wish Peter well for the future. I mean politics is hard on people and it’s hard on families, so people do take the opportunity to move on from time to time, so I wish him all the best for the future.

FAINE: Were you surprised that he decided he didn’t have an appetite for the Leader of the Opposition?

SWAN: Yes I certainly was surprised because over the last 11 years Peter has taken the opportunity to lecture a lot of people in the Parliament on courage and on strength and I was a little surprised that he decided not to take up the job as Leader of the Opposition given the sorts of things he’s had to say in the Parliament, particularly about a number of people on the Labor side over a long period of time.

I thought it would be something he would take on with enthusiasm.

FAINE: Do you care who it is that leads the Opposition now?

SWAN: No. I think it’s just important we do have a strong Opposition. I think strong Oppositions are always healthy in this country.

FAINE: As Alexander Downer just said - one day you’ll be the ex-Treasurer, one day Kevin Rudd will be the ex-Prime Minister.

SWAN: Well there’s no doubt that nobody has a grip on these jobs for life. What is important is that we have a very competitive political environment like we have a very competitive economy.

FAINE: It’s going to be crucial Wayne Swan, to the longevity of this Rudd Government, whether you’re a one-term wonder or you can sustain office for longer than that, that you avoid some of the mistakes that the Howard Government, I think we can start to say, did make which was to stop listening to different lobby groups and constituencies and give supremacy to one group over another. And I’d suggest that part of the Howard Government’s last term in office problem

was to listen very much to some people in the business community and some of the more ideological group of people in the business community rather than governing for all Australians as every in-coming Prime Minister always promises.

SWAN: There’s no doubt about that. They became disengaged not only from the people but also I think from large sections of the business community as well. I mean they couldn’t appreciate or have the foresight to deal with the skills shortages, the skills crisis, infrastructure bottlenecks and so on and large elements of the business community had no success either in

convincing the Government how important it was to solve these problems, particularly to deal with inflationary pressures in the economy.

So our number one priority really will be fighting inflation and that’s terribly important because the Government has not for a long period of time been making those investments to deliver the productivity growth that we require to put downward pressure on inflation and downward pressure on interest rates.

FAINE: Well then the looming Achilles heel for an in-coming Labor Government I’d suggest to you Wayne Swan will be the large number - as we’ve been told through the campaign - the large number of trade union people coming in whose natural inclination and whose personal and well as professional networks consist not exclusively, but primarily, of trade union contacts - your Greg Combets, Bill Shortens. I mean, all these people coming in, Richard Marles, just to mention a few who do not sit comfortably around the table with business leaders.

SWAN: I don’t accept that proposition at all. I think all of those people that you mentioned before understand the need to build a strong economy, understand the competitive pressures in the economy, understand the need to lift productivity if we’re going to put downward pressure on inflation and downward pressure on interest rates, and most importantly understand the need to create wealth in this community.

I think they all share the aspiration of lifting living standards in this country and they understand the importance of productivity in that.

I think they understand that very clearly.

FAINE: Good luck. A lot depends upon it. I look forward to speaking to you from time to time and again congratulations.

SWAN: We certainly will. Thankyou.

ENDS Contact: Matthew Coghlan 0415098050