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Transcript of radio interview with Fran Kelly: Radio National: 26 August 2010

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Transcript: Wayne Swan Radio Interview with Fran Kelly Wayne Swan posted Thursday, 26 August 2010

KELLY: Treasurer Wayne Swan joins us in our Parliament House studio. Wayne Swan good morning.

TREASURER: Good morning Fran.

KELLY: Do you support the Independents’ request for access to economic advice from Treasury and briefings from

Defence and Finance?

TREASURER: Well, we’re certainly determined to ensure the Independents get all of the information that they need to take a

decision in the national interest. So the Prime Minister has sought advice from the head of the Department of Prime Minister and

Cabinet about how that is best facilitated.

We think that this is the basic respect that they are due. They do need to know what the impact of Government policies and

Opposition policies is on the Budget bottom line. I think that’s vital information that they would require to take a decision in the

national interest.

KELLY: Okay, vital information, but access to economic advice from Treasury like this, is usually reserved for the

incoming Government. They get either the Red Book or the Blue Book from Treasury. Why should the Independents see these

documents if Tony Abbott or Julia Gillard haven’t seen them?

TREASURER: Well, I think it’s critical that they get independent information from the public service about the impact of

both Government policies and Opposition policies. This is a unique situation. As you’re aware Fran, normally all of this

information would be available through the Charter of Budget Honesty processes. And indeed, all of it is available in terms of the

Government. We’ve submitted our policies to the Charter of Budget Honesty process, almost all of those have been assessed,

some that went in late have not been assessed, but the Opposition chose not to participate in that process.

So now there is this very legitimate request from the Independent Members for information from the public service, particularly

the Treasury and the Department of Finance…

KELLY: That’s the point though, isn’t it? Treasury doesn’t have it. Tony Abbott says Treasury officials aren’t in a

position to give advice or understand Opposition policies, and as it stands that’s true.

TREASURER: No it’s not true; it’s not true at all. Although the Opposition did not participate through the Charter of Budget

Honesty fully, the fact is that the public service would be aware of the commitments of both the Government, as well as the

Opposition. They do a lot of work in preparing for the election and the election outcome. They do prepare information on both

the impact of Government policies and the impact of Opposition policies. But that information is not available to the Government,

that is why the Prime Minister has asked the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to provide advice as to how

this could best be achieved, how these goals could be achieved.

KELLY: Okay, but two things there. As you say, it’s not available to the Government. Just briefly on that point,

because we’re going to hit the news soon, but briefly on that point, if the Independents do end up seeing these Treasury

documents, shouldn’t Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard also see them so everyone is working with the same information?

TREASURER: Well, we have asked for advice from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. We have not received that

as yet. As the Prime Minister indicated yesterday, when that advice is available we will of course make it public.

What we are responding to here, I think, is a legitimate request from the Independents. They are seeking information for the

impact on the Budget bottom line of both Government and Opposition policies. I think in the circumstance we are in, that is

entirely legitimate.

KELLY: And Tony Abbott’s argument, I think, is that well, he’s happy to give them costings of his policies, but not

ones done by Treasury because they don’t have the full information. They’ve got a better understanding of Government policy

and the costs of that than they do of Opposition policies. So he’s happy to give them the assessment done by the independent

accountancy firm.

TREASURER: Well, I don’t think that’s legitimate at all. I mean, the fact is that he has had an accountancy firm from

Western Australia associated with the Liberal Party pursue his costings. The fact is that the public service prepares material on

both the impact of Opposition policies and Government policies in the normal order of business, and the fact is they are the best

qualified to assess the impact of those policies on the Budget bottom line.

KELLY: Just another question too - Julia Gillard is promising to commit to a full three year term, how can you make

that commitment under the Constitution?

TREASURER: Well, I think what the Prime Minister has said to the Independents, and indeed to the country, is that we want

strong and stable Government for a three year period. We are determined to achieve that. Of course there could be some

exceptions which would come along such as the departure of a Member or whatever, but we are determined to put in place a

framework for strong and stable Government. The Government has been a very strong economic manager. We do live in

challenging economic times, I think it’s very important that that certainty is provided and that’s what the Prime Minister has done.

KELLY: What about a commitment to not rolling a Prime Minister? Can you commit to that?

TREASURER: The Prime Minister has made that commitment. We are in very difficult…

KELLY: She can’t make that commitment.

TREASURER: Come on Fran, the fact is that we have a strong, stable Government in place for three years; the Prime

Minister has made that commitment. I think it’s a very important commitment.

KELLY: Treasurer, thank you very much for joining us on Breakfast.

TREASURER: Thankyou.


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