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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House, Canberra: 21 March 2007: Santo Santoro; Michael Johnson; Qld Liberal Party; PM's knowledge; Pyne investigation.

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Wayne Swan MP Federal Labor Shadow Treasurer



SWAN: The Government is showing all the signs of disarray and decay this morning. Once again Peter Costello, true to form, is out there blame shifting, out there blaming the states.

Look, it’s about time Peter Costello accepted some responsibility for what’s going on in the national economy. Clearly inflationary pressures are out there putting upward pressure on interest rates and it’s pretty clear that Peter Costello doesn’t understand the new interest rate reality which is that Australians are paying a higher percentage of their disposable income than at any time in our history.

Peter Costello has stolen Paul Keating’s interest rate crown and what we need to see from the Government is some urgency to put downward pressure on inflation and downward pressure on interest rates.

So, let’s see the Government get back to the main game because they are so internally preoccupied that Australians themselves are going to feel the brunt of their complacency.

Journalist: What’s your reaction to the claims this morning that Michael Johnson ……………… (inaudible) ……………… under investigation?

SWAN: Well it’s pretty clear there’s a sickness in the Queensland Liberal Party and people who have watched the Queensland Liberal Party in recent years can see it very clearly.

And the Prime Minister is directly linked to this because the Prime Minister has been effectively personally running the federal operations of the Liberal Party in Queensland.

Warwick Parer, the President of the Liberal Party in Queensland, was the Prime Minister’s personal choice and of course, as everybody knows, Santo Santoro has been there for years because the Prime Minister has been his patron.

So the Prime Minister is directly linked to the problems in the Queensland Liberal Party and that Queensland Federal Liberal Party has now let down the state of Queensland. So it has been John Howard’s sponsorship of all of those federal members that have let down Queensland and resulted in the situation that Queensland’s not getting good representation from its Federal Liberal members anymore and that’s not good enough.

I think John Howard and the Federal Liberal Party will be held to account for that at the next Federal election.

Journalist: Are they turning on each other do you think? Are the Libs leaking on each other?

SWAN: There’s absolutely no question as any journalist can tell you, either in Canberra or in Brisbane, that the Federal Liberal Party is tearing itself apart in Queensland - members out there sinking other members.

Look, it’s sad what has happened to Santo Santoro for him and his family but accountability absolutely demanded that result. The question mark for Australians today is ‘how did this come about so late’?

The Prime Minister ran the ruler over Santo Santoro 3 times over a 12 month-plus period and gave him the clean bill of health. People ought to be asking questions about the Prime Minister’s standing in all this.

Journalist: Does this blunt Labor’s probing of the Prime Minister’s knowledge of ……………………. (inaudible) ?

SWAN: I don’t believe so at all. There are big questions to be answered about the activities of Queensland Liberals including unresolved questions about the activities of Mr Howard’s former Minister and personal choice for the Ministry. There’s a lot more questions to be answered here.

How was it that the Prime Minister over 12 months or more ran the ruler over Santo Santoro and found nothing wrong, found him squeaky clean? There’s plenty of questions for the Prime Minister to answer including the fact that he appears to have known about some of these events last December.

Journalist: Should someone in his office be sacked over this?

SWAN: Look, the buck stops with the Prime Minister. The buck stops with the Prime Minister. It’s not a question about what’s happened with someone, or one person in his office. The buck stops with the Prime Minister.

Journalist: Chris Pyne was out here earlier this morning saying he would be examining his predecessor.

SWAN: A junior woodchuck is going to investigate his predecessor. Fair dinkum. It’s an inside job. If they’re serious they’ll have a decent investigation and get somebody senior to do it.


ENDS Wed 21 Mar 07

Contact Matthew Coghlan: 0415 098050