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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House, Canberra: 5 February 2007: Government water plan costings; climate change & emissions trading; Vanstone song.

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Wayne Swan MP Federal Labor Shadow Treasurer


SUBJECT: Government water plan costings; climate change & emissions trading; Vanstone song.

SWAN: I just wanted to make a couple of comments about the matter that Anthony was just talking about.

If you read the Financial Review this morning, we are told that Treasury and Finance were cut out of the costing of the Government’s water package. Now, where is the fiscal responsibility in that?

In effect, what’s occurred is that the Government has signed a $10 billion blank cheque. We all support water reform, but what we are entitled to have is detailed costings, but on this occasion, John Howard appears to have continued with his past practice. And that is, in an election year, say anything and spend any amount of money to win a few votes.

We need substantial water reform and we need that water reform backed with the power and the knowledge of all of the experts in the country including the Treasury and the Department of Finance.

It just is extraordinary that on this occasion, with a $10 billion package, that Treasury and Finance were cut out of the discussions about its development - absolutely extraordinary.

Journalist: inaudible

SWAN: We haven’t seen the details. If anybody else in the country produced a package like this, with the very slim detail that they provided, people would be questioning what the motivation was.

What we certainly need here is a carefully costed package, but we need all of the figures on the table.

The Government wasn’t prepared to do that because it’s now election year and they’re trying to buy a little bit of environmental respectability which has been sadly lacking in the last decade.

We all know that John Howard is a Johnny-Come-Lately when it comes to commitment to the environment and in particular, a commitment to doing something substantial in the long term when it comes to climate change.

Journalist: Amanda Vanstone’s song - what do you think?

SWAN: Not bad.

Journalist: Do we need an alternative anthem?

SWAN: Well I think the whole country needs some more music from time to time and if that adds to that - fine.

Journalist: On climate change, John Howard has seemed to take a step towards a target emissions trading scheme. Is that a positive?

SWAN: Well it’s positive if he’s genuine about an emissions trading scheme. If he’s taking up Labor’s proposals for an emissions trading scheme, that’s a good thing. But if he’ just out there playing politics again, well it’s not.

Now, if he’s going to support an emissions trading scheme that’s an important part of a long term response to climate change. The problem is he’s sat on his hands for 10 years so people are entitled to question whether he’s serious in putting forward a genuine emissions trading scheme which is an important part of dealing with climate change.

See, we have a narrow window of opportunity in the next 10 years or so, to act. John Howard’s failure to act over the last 10 years has endangered our future prosperity, both economic and environmental.

Journalist: inaudible

SWAN: Well I think we have to protect our future prosperity ……………..inaudible. There’s no question of that. But only a few months ago John Howard was predicting doom and gloom if there was an emissions trading scheme. He has now said it’s possible to have one and protect our great export industry.

Well that’s certainly a huge back flip from John Howard. The question is, is he genuine?

Is he now prepared to put away 10 years of climate change skepticism and policy inaction and complacency and join Labor and Kevin Rudd’s proposals for a climate change summit.

He’s refused to come along and get serious about this question. He hasn’t been prepared to do that for a decade.

Journalist: ……………..inaudible. Labor has a childcare announcement out today. How much will it cost and when will the detail be ………..

SWAN: ………………………………. Inaudible. We’re very serious about providing the detail and we, unlike the Government intend to be very fiscally responsible and we’ll demonstrate that in the weeks and months ahead.

Journalist: ……………..inaudible

SWAN: Well, what’s announced today is a proposed centralised collection of information as part of a wider package which will be developed over time.


Monday 05 Jan 07

Contact Matt Coghlan : 0415 098050