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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House, Canberra: 22 June 2004: Polls, government advertising, family payments.

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Wayne Swan MP Member for Lilley Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services



SWAN: I think people have seen through this appalling waste of public money on blatant political advertising and it shows that people won’t be bribed. I mean, look at what happened last weekend. The government spent tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money on blatant political advertising, and many families did receive a cheque in the bank. Yet Labor came back with a lead in the polls. It’s narrow - but it shows that the electorate in this country will not be bribed and they will not be treated by John Howard as if they are a never-ending source of funds for the Parliamentary Liberal Party. They simply will not be in it.

JOURNALIST: How much of this do you think is from the Peter Garrett effect?

SWAN: Look, I think it’s a combination and there’s no doubt that Peter Garrett has delivered a positive effect but I think the people of Australia have seen through the dirty tactics of John Howard. They’ve seen through the appalling waste of public money. Last weekend, the television screens were full of paid ads for the Liberal Party financed by the taxpayers of Australia - you couldn’t look at a free-to-air television, you couldn’t look at Fox news, you couldn’t watch the races, you couldn’t do anything.

JOURNALIST: Are you confident that the Labor Party will maintain a lead going into the election?

SWAN: I’m confident we are in this election with a very good chance, but elections in Australia are always close. But what I derive great, great faith from is that this poll result shows the government’s tactic of wasting taxpayer’s money on blatant political advertising has been rejected by the electorate.

We are also now getting evidence of the government throwing these family payments to families in such a way that many of these payments may well be inaccurate. We are beginning to get evidence of overpayments, of payments to people who are not entitled to the money. In their obscene rush to win this election the Government has thrown good public policy out the window and we are now seeing further evidence of overpayments in the family payments system which will leave many families with a debt or a headache into the future. And this Government is racing to the polls so they can avoid the families of Australia who are incurring those debts.

JOURNALIST: Do you feel that the Prime Minister may call an August 7 election?

SWAN: This Prime Minister will say anything or do anything to win an election. I mean look at his performance on free trade. The US Congress has not even passed the Free Trade Agreement as yet. It’s not been through the processes in this Parliament. But this Prime Minister will say anything or throw any amount of public money at the electorate to try and steal an election.

JOURNALIST: Most Australians won’t receive their $600 per child until…

SWAN: No, no. Most Australians will have already received the $600 per child and in the government’s obscene race to try and steal an election many people have been overpaid - yet another example of their flawed family payments system which leaves one in three families in this country with an average debt of $1,000. And they’re doing all this so they can camouflage the clawback that’s built in to the legislation where the $600 increase is clawed back from all families within five years. That’s why this government is racing to the polls.

JOURNALIST: Will a Labor government back the FTA to open up…(inaudible)…

SWAN: Look, this Prime Minister has put the “con” back into conservatism. There is no race for anyone, anyone in this country to give the Free Trade Agreement a tick. It is not even yet been approved by the US Congress. All of these things from the Prime Minister are simply tactics and tricks to try and create a case for an election, and good public policy is simply thrown out the window.

JOURNALIST: But you still have to decide.

SWAN: Of course we have to decide. We will have to take our decisions based on the evidence unlike this Prime Minister who is simply racing to an election trying to pump up issues so he can camouflage the flaws in his family payments system and the obscenity of his tax cuts which simply don’t go to people earning under $52,000 per year. That’s what all of this is about, a gigantic smokescreen to cover for the fact that most Australians have missed out from this government. This is a government for the few and not the many.

JOURNALIST: What do you make of the AC Nielsen survey which shows that 40% of Australians believe that the US alliance would be weakened if Labor were elected?

SWAN: Well you can read the survey that way or you can read it the other way. What I make of all of the opinion polls is that Labor has its nose in front despite the government’s expenditure where it has spent well in excess of one hundred million dollars of taxpayer’s money on blatant political advertising. I think that’s a pretty good result.

ENDS 22 June 2004 Web:

Contact: Wayne Swan on 0418 795 329

Matt Linden on 0407 430 613