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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 16133

Joint Doorstop Interview with the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, Brisbane

Photo of Rudd, Kevin

Rudd, Kevin

Period of Service: 03/12/2007 to 24/06/2010

More information about Rudd, Kevin on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 21/09/2008

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 16133

PM: Well welcome to welcoming the babies in Wayne Swan's electorate here in Brisbane and it's great to be with Wayne at this community event which he's run here on Brisbane's north side for nearly a decade. It's great to be part and parcel of community life.

One or two things about the economy, the global economy and also what Wayne will speak to is measures to assist working families.

The core to our plan for the nation's future is responsible economic management. That means ensuring we have a strong budget surplus, it also means that we have a total comprehensive engagement with the global and national financial regulators at this time of global financial crisis.

Of course part and parcel of our response to the global financial crisis is to make sure we have strong economic management at home and that rests in a strong budget surplus and this Government stands by the surplus it delivered through the budget and it's important to deliver that surplus with integrity.

Why, Australia needs that as a buffer for the future. If you look at some of the other economies around the world at present who are affected by the global financial crisis, there are very few who can boast a budget surplus at a time like this. We have, and we have got it for a deliberate purpose and that's for Australia to have a strong buffer for the uncertain times which lie ahead globally.

The other thing I would say is beyond the budget surplus itself, Australia has been actively engaged with our national and international financial institutions in a coordinated response to the global financial crisis. At home that has involved measures that we put in place some time ago concerning Commonwealth Government securities, concerning also our proposals for a financial claims scheme, concerning also other measures that we are engaged with the global financial institutions on in order to provide the best global response possible to what is a global financial crisis. Australia is not immune, Australia must act nationally, Australia must act internationally. It's core business for the future.

The other part of the Government's plan for the future is to bring forward practical plans to assist working families, pensioners and carers under financial pressure and that goes to working families struggling with housing affordability. And today what Wayne is going to talk to is important practical work he has been doing with Australia's banks to introduce First Home Saver Accounts for working families saving for their first home so that we can make that great Australian dream of owning your own home still a reality for the future.

Over to you Wayne.

TREASURER: Thanks Prime Minister. Look there is fantastic news today and the news is that two of our biggest banks have signed up to the First Home Saver Accounts. There have been building societies, there have been credit unions of significance sign up to the account, but we now have two of our established banks sign up to the account .

So from the 1st October, for the first time in our history Australian's saving for a first home will receive a significant Government contribution to help them accumulate a bigger deposit, because we all know there is a real fear out there that our children and that our grandchildren will not be able to get a foothold in the housing market and this First Home Saver Account with the Government assistance is going to assist a lot of people over a significant period of time to accumulate a bigger deposit for their first home.

A very significant initiative and that's why it is such great news that two of the established banks have signed up along with building societies and credit unions. And the other good thing about this account and its design is that parents or grandparents can also assist the first home owner to save.

I am sure if you go over there today and talk to some of the grandparents, some of the parents, they will be pretty keen on helping their children get a toehold in the housing market, or a foothold in the housing market, via this First Home Saver Account.

So there will be a listing of all of those financial institutions that have signed up to the First Home Saver Account and it can be found on the APRA website which is apra.gov.au

I urge everybody to get all of the details of this account. This will be for the first time in our history a significant Government contribution to assist first home buyers accumulate a bigger deposit.

It's one of the measures that both the Prime Minister and I are extremely proud of, it was an election commitment that we gave and its starts on the 1st October.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

TREASURER: No I haven't, this requires new systems to be put in place. You can't just click your fingers and put a new account out there into the market in a short period of time.

I believe all of the financial institutions that are participating are doing so enthusiastically. I believe more financial institutions will sign up as time goes on, but we have a significant number including a couple of the very big banks signing up on the 1st of October. That's great news.

PM: Prior to the last election only 10 months ago we promised to have First Home Saver Accounts, 10 months later that's delivered and they will be out there in the marketplace and with the banks on board it's terrific.

JOURNALIST: On the subject of global financial turmoil, did you consider using any part of the surplus (inaudible)?

PM: The key to Australia's response to the global financial crisis is responsible economic management and that means a strong budget surplus. A $22 billion surplus which the Treasurer and I and other Ministers worked so hard on for the May budget.

Secondly we've indicated that we want to invest as much of that surplus as possible into productive potential for the economy long term. Our roads, our ports, our infrastructure, and our high speed broadband.

On top of that practical measures like we have announced today to assist working families also under financial pressure. Can I say on the status of Australia's financial institutions - through the regulators and the Treasurer was meeting with the regulators as recently as Friday, we have been in close contact with them, closely monitoring the balance sheets of Australia's principal financial institutions and the good news for Australia is that based on the advice that we have receive the balance sheets remain in good order.

There is a difference between the status of Australia's leading financial institutions and the health of their balance sheets against what we see off shore. And we need to speak positively and strongly about that because that's the factual advice that we have received.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: I think the key thing is to at a time of a global financial crisis, what is necessary for a global financial crisis in dealing with it is a global response, and that is dealing with global leaders because we know that Australia is not immune.

A global financial crisis by its definition is global and therefore if you are going to respond to it effectively it means that high levels of coordination with leaders from abroad and that means dealing with the regulators as the Treasurer and I do both at home and abroad on a regular basis. It also means dealing with Heads of Government because a lot of the decisions that need to be taken are in fact very much at the discretion of the political leadership of the countries concerned.

We have a direct interest in what future actions are going to be taken by various Governments around the world. It is therefore our responsibility to engage with them, it is the responsible and right thing to do. In fact it's irresponsible to head in the reverse direction.

TREASURER: Can I just add to that and then we are going to have wind up because we have 160 babies down there waiting. In relation to the comments from the Opposition Leader this morning, $6 billion is a lot of money and that's what the Opposition is opposing in terms of our budget measures in the Senate. If they are serious about responsible economic management they should pass that $6 billion worth of measures.

At the moment $6 billion worth of measures in the Senate and a further $14 billion worth of spending measures is what the Opposition is going to raid the surplus for, if they were in Government. That is not responsible economic management.

At a time of global economic uncertainty we do need a strong surplus as a buffer against that uncertainty. The Government will certainly put in place and keep in place all of those measures which deliver the responsible outcome that provides the buffer for Australia in these uncertain times.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) about the Broncos?

PM: I think all of Queensland is in mourning, at least all of Brissie is and many parts beyond Brissie.

TREASURER: Well I was there last night and I was in the middle of thousands of Bronc's supporters and they were all pretty deflated and you can't say anymore.

But they put in a big effort you know it was a tough game. It was a great game of rugby league and unfortunately someone has got to lose.

PM: And it just didn't quite break our way.

Transcript 16133