Wayne Swan Attacks Abbott Government As Partisan And Vindictive; Claims Undermining Of Institutions And Conventions Of Government

The former Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has attacked the Abbott government, accusing it of excessive partisanship and vindictiveness, and of being a government intent on attacking key institutions and undermining important conventions of government.

SwanSwan’s attack came in a speech to the Chifley Ideas Circle, in Melbourne.

Swan attacked the partisanship of the Abbott government. He claimed this began on election night last year when Tony Abbott gloated about the ALP’s primary vote. Swan said he thought: “If he can shrink to this occasion, he can shrink to anything.”

The sacking of the Treasury Secretary, Martin Parkinson, was part of a process of undermining the independence of the Public Service, Swan said. He said the attacks on public servants had “a clear political purpose” to threaten current and future public servants. It was part of an assertion by conservatives of their “right to be the permanent government of Australia”.

Swan said the attacks on the ABC were designed to soften it up for budget cuts and to “repay News Limited for their absurdly lavish assistance” over the past three years.

He said the Abbott government was overturning conventions of government by inquiring into the previous government’s activities and accessing Cabinet records once kept secret, whereas the Labor government had not inquired into the Howard government’s actions over the Iraq war.

Swan said the government’s broken promises and vindictiveness against anyone associated with the labour movement were part of a process of delegitimising progressive policies and discrediting “institutions that deliver power to weaker and more vulnerable sections of society”.

The former Treasurer defended the Labor government’s Budgets. He said there was no spending problem but a problem with revenue downgrades. He described the government as “fiscal vandals”, whereas “we were Keynesians on the way down and remained Keynesians when growth returned”.

Swan accused the Prime Minister of “junior common room political fantasies” and said the government was intent on a “radical right wing manifesto” that is “the very essence of the survival of the fittest mentality identified by Thomas Piketty in his recent book”.

Swan is the member for Lilley in Queensland. He was first elected in 1993, defeated in 1996 and re-elected again in 1998. He served as Treasurer in the first Rudd government and was Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer in the Gillard government. He resigned from the ministry when Rudd was returned to the ALP leadership last June.

  • Listen to Swan’s speech (35m)

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  • Listen to Swan respond to questions (14m)

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Official transcript of Wayne Swan’s speech to the Chifley Ideas Circle.

THE SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST MENTALITY OF THE ABBOTT GOVERNMENT: SHIFTING THE BALANCE FROM WORKING PEOPLE TO VESTED INTERESTS

Introduction

Thanks Michael [Cooney] for that introduction.

It’s great to be here tonight to help launch the Melbourne Chifley Ideas Circle.

In a world of neo-conservative idea machines, there’s no doubt the Chifley Research Centre is a beacon of social-democratic economic sanity. [Read more...]


Reserve Bank Lowers Rates To 2.75%

The Reserve Bank of Australia has cut its cash rate 0.25% to 2.75%, the lowest rate since the 1950s.

In a statement, Governor Glenn Stevens said the RBA’s board “judged that a further decline in the cash rate was appropriate to encourage sustainable growth in the economy, consistent with achieving the inflation target.”

Swan

The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said the economy had strong growth, low unemployment and contained inflation. He said there was no comparison between today’s low interest rates and the emergency rates that prevailed during the global financial crisis.

Hockey

The Shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey, said the Reserve Bank was showing leadership and doing the “heavy lifting” for the government by responding to a deteriorating economy. He said rates were now beyond emergency levels.

  • Listen to Wayne Swan’s remarks (11m) – transcript below

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  • Listen to Joe Hockey’s remarks (6m)

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  • Listen to remarks by Peter Anderson, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (4m)

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  • Interest Rates Since 1990

Text of statement from Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens.

At its meeting today, the Board decided to lower the cash rate by 25 basis points to 2.75 per cent, effective 8 May 2013.

The global economy is likely to record growth a little below trend this year, before picking up next year. Among the major regions, the United States continues on a path of moderate expansion and China’s growth is running at a more sustainable, but still robust, pace. Japan has announced significant new policy initiatives aimed at strengthening demand and ending deflation. The euro area remains in recession. Commodity prices have moderated a little in recent months though they remain high by historical standards.

Financial conditions internationally continue to be very accommodative, with risk spreads reduced, funding conditions for most financial institutions improved and borrowing costs for well-rated corporates and sovereigns exceptionally low. [Read more...]


ALP Leadership Spill: Live Blog

10.30pm – Channel 10 Late News surveys the day’s events.

8.15pm – Ed Husic, member for Chifley, one of the Assistant Whips, has resigned his position. Husic appeared on Sky News and confirmed his resignation. Janelle Saffin, member for Page, has also resigned. Earlier today, Chief Whip Joel Fitzgibbon said he was considering his position. He can be expected to resign prior to the resumption of Parliament in May.

Crean, Marles, Fitzgibbon, Husic and Saffin are the five of the six main victims of today’s leadership fracas. Rudd is the sixth.

Husic

7.50pm – The reaction of most people to today’s events is “WTF”, according to independent Senator Nick Xenophon. He told 7.30 that no-one will support Rudd again. Whilst the May Budget could be a “circuit-breaker”, the voters have the baseball bats out ready. He said Rudd should say he will never accept the leadership under any circumstances. Greens leader Senator Christine Milne says it’s too late now because all the bridges have been burnt. [Read more...]


Wayne Swan’s Speech To The AWU National Conference

The Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has addressed the Australian Workers’ Union National Conference in Brisbane.

Swan’s speech follows Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s appearance last night.

Swan’s speech returned to his familiar theme of Labor values, warned of Tea Party tendencies in the Liberal Party, reiterated the government’s commitment to jobs, and emphasised the importance of the government’s re-election in September.

Swan

  • Listen to Paul Howes introduce Swan (2m)

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  • Listen to Swan’s speech (26m)

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  • Listen to Swan’s media conference after his speech (5m)

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Transcript of Wayne Swan’s speech to the AWU National Conference.

The Choice of 2013

Thanks Paul for that introduction. I think brothers and sisters of the AWU would join me in saying that your re-election – unopposed as it was – speaks volumes about the respect and appreciation you’ve earned in this room and around the country. There’d certainly be no argument here that the national conversation has benefited hugely from your growing contribution over the past few years. Together with Bill Ludwig – a giant of our movement – you’ve helped the AWU stand tall and unmoved as the first line of defence for so many hardworking Australians and their right to decent pay and fair conditions. And to Bill, mate frankly I reckon you could’ve knocked out another quarter of a century leading the mighty Queensland branch. But I do understand the need for fresh blood and I know you leave it in Ben’s very capable hands. We’re better every day for your stewardship of this great union – our union.

As the PM said last night, I’m just back from G20 Finance Ministers meeting in Moscow over the weekend. These meetings always reaffirm my optimism about the future of our nation. A lot of finance ministers around the table would give their right arm for the resilience of the Australian economy. Yes, we face challenges and we saw some of those tough challenges in the video last night. The higher dollar being one. But we approach these from a position of strength that few developed economies have. Every time I sit in these meetings I think about people like you. I think of the Labor values that go to the core of our party and movement. Jobs first, fair days’ pay for a fair days work – high skill high wage careers. Always putting growth and jobs first, and making sure we’re prepared for the challenges of the future by dealing with dangerous climate change and investing in infrastructure and education. We’re stronger today because we applied these values during the global financial crisis, we saved hundreds of thousands of jobs and small businesses, and in doing that we were opposed every step of the way by Mr Abbott and his Tea-Party style negative tactics. Had Mr Abbott and his slash and burn Tea-Partyers been in charge during the financial crisis, Australia would have gone into recession. [Read more...]


In Barton, Tony Abbott Promises Home-Grown Policy With A Strong Australian Accent

The Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, was campaigning in the NSW electorate of Barton this morning.

Barton is held for Labor by the former Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, with a margin of 6.86%. McClelland has announced that he will not contest the seat at this year’s election. There has been speculation that he may cause a by-election by resigning to take up a judicial post from the NSW government.

Abbott

Tony Abbott was in Barton campaigning with the Liberal candidate, Nick Varvaris. He repeated his standard promise of getting rid of the carbon tax and took questions on Treasurer Wayne Swan’s allegation that the Liberal Party is assuming Tea Party characteristics.

Abbott said: “One thing that we never do in the Coalition is import political techniques and political personnel from other countries. We just don’t believe in imported politics. We believe in a strong, home-grown policy, we believe in strong local candidates and that’s what you’ll always see from the Coalition under my leadership. We will speak with a strong Australian accent. Always have and always will.”

The remark has been interpreted in some quarters as a dig at John McTernan, the Scottish-born UK political operative who now works as Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Director of Communications.

  • Listen to Abbott’s doorstop (9m)

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Transcript of Tony Abbott’s doorstop in the Barton electorate.

ABBOTT: It’s great to be here in Ramsgate in the electorate of Barton. It’s an honour to be here with Nick Varvaris, our candidate who is the Mayor of Kogarah. Nick is doing an excellent job. He’s campaigning hard on the ground. The message to the people of Barton and to the people of Australia is that the Coalition is ready. We are ready. The Prime Minister has named September the 14th but you just never know when the election will be and whenever it is, the Coalition is ready; grassroots candidates like Nick Varvaris are ready.

Just talking to people here in the Ramsgate shopping centre this morning, people here – as around Australia – are concerned about their cost of living. A lot of people are still very angry about the carbon tax. The carbon tax was something that the Prime Minister promised wouldn’t happen before the last election, now it has happened. It is impacting on small business costs, it is impacting on everyone’s bills. It is impacting on the pressure that so many Australians feel on their daily life. [Read more...]


Gillard: I Don’t Comment On Polls

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has doggedly refused to comment on poor opinion poll figures published today.

The Neilsen poll in Fairfax newspapers The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald shows the ALP primary vote on 30% and the Coalition leading the ALP by 56% to 44% on the two-party-preferred vote.

The Coalition’s primary vote in the Nielsen poll is 47%. Tony Abbott’s approval rating is 42%, compared to Julia Gillard’s 40%.

Gillard

The Essential poll published today has the Coalition leading the ALP by 54% to 46%. It has the ALP’s primary vote at 35%.

On the weekend, News Limited Sunday papers published a Galaxy poll of women voters showing the Coalition leading the ALP 53% to 47%.

The polls coincide with renewed speculation about Gillard’s leadership and a possible return of Kevin Rudd. The speculation also centres on the future of Treasurer Wayne Swan who is now increasingly seen as a weak link.

Speaking at Primo Smallgoods in Brisbane today, Gillard said she wanted to focus on jobs and yesterday’s Industry and Innovation statement.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey also commented on the poll figures at a media conference in the ALP’s marginal NSW seat of Dobell. Hockey’s comments are interesting for the way in which he positions his attacks against Kevin Rudd as well as the government in general. [Read more...]


Mining Industry Advertising Campaign Starts Again

The mining industry has turned to advertising to argue its case against increased mining taxes.

The Minerals Council of Australia has placed the advertisement below on page 9 of today’s edition of the Financial Review. It also appears in The Australian.

The advertisement comes as debate over the lack of revenue from the Gillard government’s mining tax gathers pace. It coincides with an interview yesterday with former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in which he laid the blame for the tax at the feet of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan.

An advertising campaign by the mining industry in 2010 played a role in the downfall of Kevin Rudd.

Minerals Council