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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House: 11 February 2004: Parliamentary superannuation scheme.

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Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services




SWAN: Well yesterday in the Parliament the Prime Minister squibbed Mark Latham’s challenge. He squibbed the challenge of cleaning up Parliamentary super. Labor’s put forward a fair proposal to clean up the Parliamentary Superannuation Scheme and make it consistent with broader community standards.

You could tell in the Parliament yesterday that the Prime Minister was stuck in the past and irrelevant to the future. He’s had eight years to come up with a change to this framework and yesterday in the Parliament he simply couldn’t respond. I think the Australian people deserve better from their Prime Minister, particularly someone who is the beneficiary of a couple of mansions, a VIP jet and all the rest of it. The Australian people expect better standards from their Prime Minister and they expect him to act.

JOURNALIST: He promised to analyse it though?

SWAN: Well this Prime minister has had eight years to analyse this scheme. What he had to do yesterday was make a simple value judgement like Mark Latham made and he was incapable of doing that.

JOURNALIST: It’s been argued that you need to have an effective remuneration scheme to get effective politicians?

SWAN: Well I didn’t enter politics because of the money, I entered it because I’m committed to community service and I’m committed to the country and I believe that applies to almost all of the people in this building.

JOURNALIST: Mark Latham says he’s willing to give up, up to $2 million of his package. Are you willing to give up some of yours?

SWAN: Well Mark Latham outlined a consistent set of principles to reform the scheme. Most of us in public life make our contributions over time. I will continue to do that.

JOURNALIST: But will you give up any of yours?

SWAN: No because what we outlined yesterday was a winding down of the scheme. I’m not an office holder. The Prime Minister and the other office holders have a framework before them. I believe it’s the correct framework and if I were in that position that exactly what I would do.

JOURNALIST: But you could donate some of your money to charity?

SWAN: well I certainly do. I spend a lot of time as the family and community services spokesperson with the community and I make my contributions like anybody else.

JOURNALIST: indistinct

SWAN: Well it’s entirely different. Paul Keating didn’t live at Kirribilli. This Prime Minister’s standards are very lavish. He’s the first Prime Minister to live at Kirribilli and he doesn’t live full time in the Lodge - that’s one additional house. This is a Prime Minister who uses the VIP jet to travel exclusively between Sydney and Canberra. This Prime Minister’s largesse is extraordinary by any standards.

JOURNALIST: But as Australia’s representative basically to the rest of the world surely he is entitled….

SWAN: And we don’t begrudge him overseas travel or entitlements that suit the office, but this Prime Minister has gone a bridge too far.

JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister has tackled Labor again over Centenary House. Is it proper that Labor look again at this arrangement?

SWAN: This Prime Minister has looked at Centenary House on numerous occasions and those who have been in the Gallery for a while will recall numerous reports commissioned by this Government into Centenary House and they with the use of the bureaucracy have not been able to find any fault in those contracts. So that’s a matter for the Prime Minister. If he’s got some further issues to pursue he should pursue them. We’re not afraid of scrutiny. It’s been there in the past and I’m sure it will be there in the future.

JOURNALIST: What do you think of the read off debate in parliament yesterday?

SWAN: Well Labor has been on about early childhood, early assistance to families and making sure kids from the first day of life get the best start. The Prime Minister and his government have had eight years to commit themselves to early assistance to families and to an early childhood agenda and there is nothing in place. All the Prime Minister could do yesterday was to produce a flimsy document which was part of his Stronger Families Strategy which has a miniscule amount of money committed to these issues. This government is simply barren when it comes to the early childhood agenda and they were embarrassed, you saw that in the house yesterday. The performance of the Deputy Prime Minister was pathetic and lamentable.

ENDS Wednesday 11 Feb 04 Web:

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