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Transcript of a doorstop interview of the Shadow Treasurer: Parliament House, Canberra: 15 November 2004: Access Economics budget monitor, Telstra, Speaker [of the House of Representatives]. industrial relations.

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Wayne Swan MP Federal Labor Shadow Treasurer



SWAN: On the Access Report, it is pretty clear from the report that this Government is very good at taxing and very bad at spending. What Access Economics is saying is this Government has failed to make the necessary investments for the next generation of productivity growth. And they get even stronger than that, they claim this Government may have muffed a last opportunity to cement prosperity for the future.

What Labor has been saying is that we need to invest in the growth economy for tomorrow, just not today.

What this Access report really shows is that the Government spending spree, $66 billion since the Budget, has weakened our capacity to invest in the economy of tomorrow and Access is extremely critical of the Government for that. Essentially what they are saying is that future surpluses may not be as large as the Government had predicted at the time of PEFO for a variety of reasons, one of which of course is the Government’s short-term spending spree. So essentially, this report says the Government is putting the short-term political interest of the Liberal party before the long-term economic interests of the country - and in that sense it is very critical report.

Secondly, we’ve got the National Party up there in the Senate flexing its muscles, claiming it is really the balance of power, while in Queensland we’ve got the Liberals and Nationals saying that they are going to merge. So it appears in Queensland the plan of the National Party is to make themselves completely subservient to the Liberal Party. So I think what we really have got to have a look here and see what is the attitude of the Leader of the National Party in Canberra to the merger proposals in Queensland. And indeed, what is the attitude of the Prime Minister to the merger proposals in Queensland given that today a Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Entsch, has come out in favour of the merger as have two other Federal Liberal members of Parliament in Queensland.

REPORTER: Would you become concerned about the sale of Telstra because of the merger…?

SWAN: It is obvious to just about everyone that the Nationals are not going to stand up for the bush, certainly when it comes to services. Indeed in Queensland we have the National Party wanting to become subservient to the Liberal party with this planned merger that is coming from their Parliamentary leader in Queensland. So I think we should be asking the Deputy prime Minister what his attitude to the merger is and while we are at it we ought to ask the Prime Minister as well.


REPORTER: Who is your tip for Speaker?

SWAN: Well, I hope we put the interests of the Parliament first, so I think someone like David Jull or Bruce Baird would be good for the Parliament. But it is the Liberal Party in charge now, unfettered power, they could do anything.

REPORTER: Will the Labor Party support the Government’s industrial relations Bill?

SWAN: Those are matters for our spokesman in the area, Stephen Smith, but I will just make this point. The Labor party will stick to its principles, and we’ve already voted against a number of things which have come to the Senate before and we see no reason to be changing our attitude on those things that have been presented before.

We are currently engaged in a policy review which we will do in our own time, at our own pace and on our own terms. We are going to have a constructive review of a number of aspects of policy, but the one thing we are not going to do is walk away from our principles and we’ve established those in the case of the Bills that are before the Senate at the moment. So I will leave further questions to Stephen Smith.

REPORTER: On the Access Report, you put a decent spin on it…

SWAN: I think everybody should have a very close read of the Access Economics Report. It says absolutely clearly that the Government may have muffed a last opportunity to cement prosperity into the future.

Then when you go into the figures you see that of course there is a revenue surge. I said in my remarks earlier we have a Government that is very good at taxing but very bad at spending. What Access Economics is saying is that the Government’s $66 billion spending spree since the Budget has weakened our capacity to invest in a productive economy for the future, and they say that is not a good thing.

ENDS Mon 15 Nov 04

Contact: Matt Linden 0407 430 613