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Transcript of doorstop interview of the Shadow Treasurer: Parliament House, Canberra:13 September 2005: Petrol prices; Peter Costello; Telstra.

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Wayne Swan MP Federal Labor Shadow Treasurer



SUBJECTS: Petrol prices; Peter Costello; Telstra

SWAN: Well, Australian families deserve a Treasurer who takes the pain of high petrol prices seriously. Yesterday in the Parliament the Treasurer laughed and smirked his way through an answer on petrol prices and didn’t take it seriously. He was going on about the international price. Nobody disagrees that the international price is one of the primary reasons why the price of petrol is up but there are things the Treasurer can do and there are things he refuses to do. He’s just simply sitting on his hands. For example, he could have the ACCC formally monitor petrol prices. He could do something about the unpreparedness of this country when it comes to a domestic fuel industry. He could do something about putting the competition blowtorch to the industry. These are things where he is sitting on his hands and he won’t take the pain of Australian families seriously. After nine long years Australian families deserve some serious consideration from the Treasurer, not smirks and laughter.

Journalist: The Treasurer says the ACCC’s had enough inquiries already.

SWAN: I’m not talking about an inquiry. I’m talking about formal price monitoring by the ACCC which he could instruct them to carry out. He does not. He refuses to do that. You’ve seen reports of price gouging over the last 4 or 5 days. What’s going on? Why doesn’t the Treasurer take these issues seriously? I mean it’s a bit like Telstra. He’s rushing the legislation through to have a fire sale. He won’t sit back

and take the Australian people into his confidence.

Journalist: The ACCC says it is monitoring petrol prices.

SWAN: The ACCC could have a formal monitoring role on petrol prices. It currently does not have one. It has broader powers to deal with collusive behaviour. We think that the powers, in terms of competition, ought to be strengthened. We think there ought to be something done about predatory pricing. We think section 46 ought to be strengthened. The ACCC may be out there but it does not have a formal monitoring role.

Journalist: What about reducing the GST on fuel?

SWAN: Well tax is in the mix but we’re not going to make any irresponsible promises in that area. It’s part of a total consideration.

Journalist: On Telstra, Steve Fielding saying no to the sale. That must be encouraging for Labor.

SWAN: Well it certainly is because Senator Fielding has obviously taken the time to consider all of these issues seriously. The Government wants to rush this bill through, it wants a fire sale, it wants to get it through the Parliament before others in the National Party and the Liberal Party change their minds, like Senator Fielding.

Journalist: Barnaby Joyce says that not delaying or not increasing the inquiry actually gives him more power later on in negotiations. Do you see that?

SWAN: Barnaby Joyce made a promise to the people of Queensland to oppose the sale of Telstra. He ought to keep that promise. What we’ve seen is that he’s been sold a pig in a poke, and that services are not up to scratch. It’s crystal clear. He ought to keep his promise to the people of Queensland and not be bullied by the likes of Peter Costello and Bruce Scott. We saw it all in the Parliament last night. There was Treasurer Costello talking to Bruce Scott over there with Costello’s cockies, over there duchessing the National Party.


Tuesday 13 September 2005 Contact Jim Chalmers 0417 141 676