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Transcript of doorstop interview: Brisbane: 26 August 2012: Australia’s strong investment pipeline; Tony Abbott’s carbon backdown; Campbell Newman’s cuts to Queensland’s budget; Northern Territory election; mining investment; hunger strike; Mr Abbott’s ‘shocking’ week; Liberals’ proposed cuts to tertiary education; Mr Newman’s threat to raise royalties

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THE HON WAYNE SWAN MP Deputy Prime Minister Treasurer


26 AUGUST 2012


SUBJECTS: Australia’s strong investment pipeline, Tony Abbott’s carbon backdown, Campbell Newman’s cuts to Queensland’s budget, Northern Territory election, mining investment, hunger strike, Mr Abbott’s ‘shocking’ week, Liberals’ proposed cuts to tertiary education, Mr Newman’s threat to raise royalties

TREASURER: Today in my economic note which I produce on a weekly basis, what it shows is that Australia has been a magnet for private business investment in recent years. Since late 2007 there’s been $919 billion worth of private business investment in the Australian economy. Something like $260 billion of that is still to come and that’s at an advanced stage.

So there’s a very big investment pipeline in Australia. We’ve seen $919 billion worth of investment, half a trillion coming in resources of which $260 billion is at an advanced stage. And plenty of that private business investment in resources is in Queensland. All of this as has happened in the face of the ridiculous scare campaign which has been mounted by Mr Abbott and the Liberals over carbon pricing.

Yesterday Mr Abbott torpedoed his own scare campaign. He admitted in Tasmania that that scare campaign was a fraud. What we’re seeing here is Mr Abbott being mugged by the truth.

Mr Abbott should apologise for that campaign. He should apologise to all the businesses, he should apologise to all the pensioners, he should apologise to all of the working families that that campaign has been directed at. Today his credibility is in tatters.

We can also see today further evidence of the impact of the Liberals on our economy, particularly here in Queensland. The sacking of 20,000 state workers and the assault on the Queensland economy by the Queensland Premier when he compared the Queensland economy to the Spanish economy, is having devastating impacts on confidence in the state of Queensland.

Many of us lived through the Joh [Bjelke-Peterson] era, where he ruled with an iron-fist. There’s no doubt that the Premier of Queensland is going down that road and that is having damaging effects on the Queensland economy.

And of course what Queenslanders are seeing here from Mr Newman is just a taste of what they would get if Mr Abbott were to be Prime Minister. And we can see some of that in the papers today as well - the intention of the Liberals to take the axe to funding of tertiary education which would deny something like 130,000 tertiary students over five years a place and put up the cost of tertiary education by something like 25 per cent.

Over to you.

JOURNALIST: Is there a link with Federal Labor do you think with the Northern Territory election?

TREASURER: I’ll just make some remarks about the Chief Minister, Mr Henderson who I think has been absolutely committed to improving life in the Northern Territory for Northern Territorians. Can I also congratulate the winner, the new Chief Minister, Mr Mills.

I think this campaign up there was fought largely around local factors and you can see that in the analysis of the campaign and indeed in the results. I think everybody in Queensland knows what local government reform is like and how difficult it can be and I think that is part of what’s occurred in the Northern Territory.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

TREASURER: The fact is that I don't think there are any implications coming out of the Northern Territory election for Federal Labor. It was largely fought on local factors.

JOURNALIST: Has it got anything at all do you think to do with the Federal Government intervention?

TREASURER: The intervention in the Northern Territory has been pursued by both the Liberal Party under John Howard and by this Labor Government under Julia Gillard. Some of the analysis suggests that may have been a factor. Well that’s been pursued by both sides of politics.

JOURNALIST: Craig Emerson has said Australia is halfway through its mining boom. Is that your take on it?

TREASURER: Well what I’ve just said today, I’ve pointed to the fact that there’s been $919 billion worth of investment in the period that this Government has been in office, and that there’s a resources pipeline of almost half a trillion dollars, of which $260 billion is out at an advanced stage.

There’s a lot of resource investments still to come. But of course prices are coming off a little. We forecast that in our budget. What we are about to see is a surge in exports which flows from investment. That’s the point I’m making today.

In spite of all the talking down of our economy by Mr Abbott there is a very healthy resource sector in Australia. He said that Whyalla would disappear from the map, he said such investment wouldn't occur. I think Mr Abbott ought to apologise for all his talking down of our economy over the last couple of years. We can see that that scare campaign has been torpedoed today by himself where he’s been forced to admit that he was wrong.

JOURNALIST: Do you have a message for those on the hunger strike?

TREASURER: No I haven’t been briefed in full about these matters. I’ve seen those reports today. But I think anybody contemplating getting on a boat and coming to Australia has to absolutely understand that they could well end up in Nauru.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

TREASURER: Well I haven’t seen those reports so I’m not going to make any comments on reports I haven’t seen.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

TREASURER: I’m not going to respond to reports of reports. The fact is that we have been working towards a regional solution and we’ve put in place offshore processing. That is very important to send a deterrence message to those who are contemplating getting on boats and risking their lives.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

TREASURER: I think it was a pretty gusty performance from our Prime Minister last week. There was no doubt that she stood there and answered every single question that could be put to her by the press gallery and I think she did put all of those issues to bed once again.

JOURNALIST: Who do you think had the worst week - the Prime Minister or Mr Abbott?

TREASURER: Well Mr Abbott had a shocking week. He started the week by saying that public education was funded too generously - he said that was an injustice. He then went on to have a debacle on the 7.30 report where he admitted to not reading the comments from BHP as to why they didn't pursue the Olympic Dam project. And of course he’s finished the week now in Tasmania admitting that his own scare campaign has failed.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

TREASURER: I know what I read in the paper today. That the Liberal Party is contemplating taking the axe to tertiary education.

There’s a $70 billion crater in the Liberal Party’s budget bottom line. They’ve got to fill that and the way they’re going to fill it and they’ve told us partly how they’ll fill it today, is they’re going to make very savage cuts to tertiary education. So the sort of approach that Queenslanders have seen from the Liberals here through Mr Newman is the approach that

Tony Abbott is taking to education nationally, and more broadly will take to health and education nationally.

(We’ve seen) big savage cuts here from the Liberal Party and these are the sorts of cuts which Mr Abbott will put in place to fill his $70 billion crater in his budget bottom line, which Mr Hockey admitted on breakfast television on 12 August last year.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

TREASURER: Mr Newman for his own base political purposes publicly said a couple of weeks ago that the Queensland economy was similar and could be compared with the Spanish economy. The Spanish economy has 25 per cent unemployment, 50 per cent youth unemployment.

Those sorts of statements talking down our economy are extremely damaging to confidence and that’s what you can see in the polling published today in the Sunday Mail. That has had a dramatic impact on confidence in the Queensland economy, not just among public servants but also among small business and working people more generally.

Mr Newman has pursued this strategy to try and justify his harsh cuts. His harsh cuts can’t be justified in terms of economics and what he is doing is taking a sledgehammer to the Queensland economy with damaging consequences for employment and for confidence. When what he should be doing is talking truthfully about the strength of the Queensland economy and its budget position.

He told Queenslanders untruths prior to the election and we are now seeing the consequences of this play out in the sackings of 20,000 public servants and all the damaging impacts on economy confidence in that state.

JOURNALIST: Is one option then to raise revenue (inaudible)?

TREASURER: Mr Newman prior to the election made a series of commitments which were unfunded, and because he made those commitments and they were unfunded he is now seeking to cut the budget. That’s the reason cuts are taking place.

Not because the budget estimates have changed from the previous government to this one, but because he made $4 billion worth of unfunded promises and now he’s forcing 20,000 public servants and many other Queenslanders to suffer for the fact that he took to the election proposals which were unfunded.

JOURNALIST: Considering you threatened to take away these mining royalties dollar for dollar (inaudible). Do you think Tim Nicholls can be trusted to deliver a sound budget considering there’s a question mark there?

TREASURER: I’ve already made my views clear about what the Liberals are doing in Queensland. It’s just a taste of what Tony Abbott would do nationally and it’s having damaging impacts on the Queensland economy and on confidence.


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