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Transcript of doorstop: Kedron State School, Brisbane: 7 February 2009: Nation Building and Jobs Plan; assistance for Queensland floods victims.



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PRESS

RELEASE

Treasurer

www.treasurer.gov.au

TRANSCRIPT

of

THE HON WAYNE SWAN MP Treasurer

DOORSTOP

Kedron State School, Brisbane

7 February 2009

E&OE

SUBJECTS: Nation Building and Jobs Plan; Assistance for Queensland Floods Victims

TREASURER: I’m here with Ben Thompson, who is the President of the Kedron State School P&C, and I’m going to talk to him about what the biggest school modernisation program in Australia’s history means practically here at this school. Now, what it means for this school and thousands of other schools around the country is new facilities and jobs. This school modernisation program provides vital support for community facilities, but most importantly, it supports Australian jobs.

Now, overnight we’ve had the biggest fall in [US] employment numbers since 1974. What that demonstrates is the power of this global recession and the threat to jobs that this global recession poses.

And what it means here in Australia is that it’s time for the minor parties, it’s time for the Liberal Party to let the Government deliver this vital jobs package which is in Australia’s national interest, and in particular, it’s vital for the Liberal Party to stop playing party politics and back the national interest, because this is not a time for dithering. It’s not a time for delay. It’s not a time for half

measures. The jobs plan, the Nation Building and Jobs Plan, is in Australia’s national interest because we have a global recession which threatens jobs at home. That’s why the Government has moved so decisively. It’s a time to end all of the politicking from Mr Turnbull and the Liberals. It’s time for the minor parties and everybody to get on board and support Australian jobs.

Now, overnight it appears that even the Republicans and the US Senate have come to an agreement to pass the stimulus package. If they can act in their national interests, surely the Liberal Party in Australia can act in Australia’s national interest.

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It’s absolutely critical that this package, the Nation Building and Jobs Plan, passes as soon as possible, give a vital boost to (inaudible), a vital boost to employment. That’s why we’re acting in the national interest.

Over to you.

JOURNALIST: Have you spoken with the Greens yet?

TREASURER: I’ve had a discussion with the Greens. As I indicated yesterday, we will talk constructively with the minor parties in the Senate, but it’s no guarantee that all of the minor parties will necessarily support our Nation Building and Jobs Plan.

There’s one way we can be absolutely certain that this plan passes - and that’s for the Liberal Party to show some common sense and support it. I mean, Mr Turnbull has already said that he would go into debt, that he would borrow in these circumstances. He’s already said that he would go into debt to borrow to make up for the fall in revenues caused by the global financial crisis. He said that he will have a stimulus package. So, he should stop quibbling with the fine detail and back the national interest. It’s very important to get this through. He should stop playing politics with the jobs of Australians, because every day that Malcolm Turnbull dithers, every day he plays politics, Australian jobs are at risk.

Now, just here at the school, I thought I might just throw to Ben about what practically it means at a relatively small school like this which has got what?

BEN THOMPSON: About 280 students.

TREASURER: 280 students. It’s a very big impact here. What would it mean, Ben?

BEN THOMPSON: It’s basically, really, it’s going to be a godsend for schools like us because it’s so hard to get funds to upgrade buildings. I mean, immediately we’ve been told that we can get access to $125,000 to do things like refurbish classrooms for the kids.

TREASURER: And of course, that’s jobs straightaway.

BEN THOMPSON: And in the longer term, we’ve got access to up to $2 million to build a multi-purpose hall for the kids, for the community to use, and of course, that’s even more jobs, as Wayne said.

JOURNALIST: Is that enough for your school, or do you need a lot more?

BEN THOMPSON: It’s more than we could ever dream of.

TREASURER: Can I make this point. If Mr Turnbull has his way, none of this will flow. He’s not supporting it.

JOURNALIST: Have the Greens raised their demands or wishes with you?

TREASURER: I had a constructive discussion with Mr Brown, and we’ll continue to talk with the minor parties. But there’s no certainty that all of the minor parties will support this package. It’s just not easy to predict what all of them will do. The only way to deliver certainty is for the Liberal Party to back this in the Senate, to show some common sense and to get behind practical action, because, after all, Mr Turnbull has said that he would borrow. Mr Turnbull has said that he would have a stimulus package, but because this isn’t the package he wants, he wants to play politics and stand in the way of Australian jobs.

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JOURNALIST: During your constructive discussion with the Greens, did they raise their demands?

TREASURER: I don’t think it’s fair to say that Mr Brown made any demands. I think it’s fair to say he raised some issues with us.

JOURNALIST: What sort of issues?

TREASURER: One of the issues he raised was bikeways. That was one of the issues he raised, and we’ll have at look at that. It’s in everybody’s interests that we have the full support of the whole community, the whole of the Parliament, and all of the Senate behind this package, because as you can see from the seriousness of the figures overnight, not just in the United States but also in Canada, it’s not a time for half measures. It’s not a time for dithering. It’s not a time for delay and it’s most certainly not a time for political point-scoring over the nature of the package that Mr Turnbull is engaging in. He’s just being so hypocritical. He admits he would borrow to make up for the shortfall of revenues imposed on this country by the global recession. He admits he would borrow for a stimulus package. So, why won’t he support this one?

Just one other thing I need to do. This is quite important. As you’re aware, we have very substantial flooding in North Queensland and of course in Far North Queensland. I’m announcing today that there will be payments, through Centrelink, for eligible adults of $1000 and $400 for eligible children, payments available through Centrelink for those people that are in pretty extreme distress at the moment. These floods are having a huge impact, as we’ve seen every night on the television, up in North Queensland and Far North Queensland. And being a Queenslander and having been around at a few of these events, these payments, I’m sure, will be sorely needed and they will be delivered by the Commonwealth Government. Thanks.

JOURNALIST: When will people have access to that money?

TREASURER: Almost straightaway.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

TREASURER: It will be people that are in severe distress. What happens in these events is that people can’t go to work. They get trapped in their houses. They haven’t been to the bank. They may not even be able to get to an ATM. So, what we’re trying to do is for those that are eligible and assessed as being eligible, to provide some immediate relief.

Thanks very much.

ends