Asia-Ready People, Asia-Ready Policies: Wayne Swan Speech

This is the text of Treasurer Wayne Swan’s address to the Australia in China’s Century conference in Sydney today.

Wayne Swan

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Speech by Treasurer Wayne Swan to Australia in China’s Century conference.

Asia-Ready People, Asia-Ready Policies

Can I start by thanking you, Paul for that introduction, thanking you all here for that warm welcome, and especially acknowledging The Australian and The Wall Street Journal for putting this event together. The rise of China, and especially the stupendous growth in its middle class, sits alongside the Global Financial Crisis as one of the two defining economic events of our lifetimes. Both are transforming the world. Indeed, China’s return to pre-eminence in the global economy is the most momentous development since the industrial revolution re-shaped the Western world over 200 years ago. So what China’s rise means for our place in the global superstructure is certainly a big enough topic to warrant this high-quality gathering today. I’m thankful for the opportunity to offer some thoughts and then to discuss them with my distinguished colleagues on this panel. I know that by this stage you don’t want me to go over too much of the same ground or recite the same stats. Instead, I want to offer the personal perspective of an Australian Treasurer whose seven trips to China mean I’ve probably visited there more times than all my predecessors since federation combined. That’s not a perfect statistic, but it does illustrate the shifting focus of Treasurers since the second world war, from markets in London, New York and Tokyo towards Shanghai and Hong Kong today. [Read more…]

National Accounts Show 3.7% Annual Economic Growth

The National Accounts figures released today show economic growth of 0.6% in the June quarter. The annualised growth rate if 3.7%.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said the figures showed that Australia’s economy grew faster than every single major advanced economy, not only in the June quarer but over the year to June.

Australia has now completed 21 years of consecutive economic growth.

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Media statement from Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Today’s National Accounts reaffirm Australia’s position as one of the strongest economies in the world, and shines a light on our ongoing resilience in the face of significant international headwinds.

Gross Domestic Product rose by a solid 0.6 per cent in the June quarter, which builds upon exceptional growth in the March quarter, revised up to 1.4 per cent. This takes Australia’s growth performance to a robust 3.7 per cent through the year.

The National Accounts show the Australian economy grew faster than every single major advanced economy both in the June quarter and over the year to June, and has successfully completed a stunning 21 consecutive years of economic growth – a feat not matched by any other advanced economy over this period.

Australia’s economic performance in the June quarter was even more impressive against a backdrop of worsening global conditions, including a contraction in the euro area, moderating growth in the United States and the return of financial market turbulence. [Read more…]

Macklin Announces NDIS Trial For NSW Hunter Region

The Commonwealth and NSW governments have reached agreement for a trial of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in the Hunter region next year.

Jenny Macklin

The decision was announced today by the Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin, and her counterpart, the NSW Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance.

The Hunter trial arises out of the backdown by the NSW and Victorian governments last week.

The announcement today was overshadowed by the media’s coverage of Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan’s speech on Bruce Springsteen and Labor values.

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Joint media release from the federal Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin, and the NSW Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance.

Launching a National Disability Insurance Scheme in the Hunter

People with significant and profound disabilities in the Hunter region of NSW are set to benefit from a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) next year, after the Australian and NSW Governments today reached an agreement on arrangements for the Hunter launch site.

From next year about 10,000 people with significant and profound disabilities, their families and carers in the Hunter will have their needs assessed and will start to receive individual care and support packages. [Read more…]

Land Of Hope And Dreams: Wayne Swan’s John Button Oration

This is Treasurer Wayne Swan’s John Button Oration, delivered tonight.

Wayne Swan

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Text of Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan’s John Button Oration.

LAND OF HOPE AND DREAMS

One of the aspects of my job I enjoy most is speaking to different parts of our community about so many different facets of our economy. In roughly eight years in the Treasury portfolio I’ve made hundreds of speeches on economic topics, which is of course no great surprise particularly given the whiteknuckle ride the global economy has been through in recent times.

But tonight I want to do things a bit differently. Tonight I want to talk to you in a very personal way about some of the values that have underpinned these speeches and about some of the influences that have shaped those values. In particular I want to talk to you about the ends of economic policy: what sort of society we want, and the sorts of lives we each aspire to lead.

To answer those questions we need to broaden our debates beyond the usual parameters of economic argument and policy-making. Most importantly, we need to talk about culture. Because it is culture perhaps more than anything else which influences our values, which in turn shape the type of society we want to build and the sorts of lives we want to lead. [Read more…]

Hockey: Springsteen Not A Basis For Sound Public Policy

The Shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey, has castigated Wayne Swan for being inspired by Bruce Springsteen.

“We might as well have Glenn A. Baker and Molly Meldrum running the country,” Hockey told a media conference.

Joe Hockey

“This is another ‘look at me’ speech… this is the clown trying to run the circus… it says everything about this government that it’s guided by the principles of a rock singer rather than any enduring philosophy that builds a stronger nation… I see rock and music as entertainment, I don’t see it as the benchmark of guiding principles for the destiny of a nation…”

Mr. Hockey said he was inspired more by Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, or “a Menzies who said we should be a nation of lifters not leaners, or a Howard who says the things that unite us are far bigger than the things that divide us. Or a Teddy Roosevelt who said it’s far better to dream mighty things, to seek glorious triumphs even though chequered by failure, than to be amongst those poor souls who neither suffer much nor enjoy much because they live in the great twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

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[Read more…]

Wayne Swan And Bruce Springsteen: Born To Run

It’s not every day the front page of the Financial Review features Wayne Swan and the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen songs.

Financial Review frontpage

Treasurer Swan will tonight deliver the annual John Button Oration.

In extracts of the speech published today, Swan pays tribute to the power of Bruce Springsteen’s music, especially his 1975 song, Born to Run.

Swan renews his attack on Clive Palmer, Andrew Forrest and Gina Rinehart, saying his only regret is “not going in hard enough”. Swan reiterates his argument “that a handful of powerful people not only think they have the right to a disproportionate share of the nation’s economic success, they think they have the right to manipulate our democracy and our national conversation to gain an even bigger slice of the pie.”

This is a video Swan released today in which he discusses John Button, Bruce Springsteen and politics:

Extract of Wayne Swan’s John Button Oration, as published in The Age.

My inspiration has always been music. Bruce Springsteen, “The Boss”, was and remains my musical hero. And not just mine. He’s the favourite musician of the Prime Minister and many other members of the government.

Like Springsteen, I and many caucus members came from working-class families. We are in many ways the Springsteen generation. And if our generation has an anthem, it is Born to Run.

It was released as a single in August 1975, and it’s the song we listened to during the Whitlam dismissal in November of that year and the bitter election campaign that followed. The song has never left me. I still crank it up loud on budget night and after our family dinner parties. It’s about trying to stay young when the carefree days of youth are coming to an end. It’s a song about realising that big and daunting responsibilities are just around the corner. But it’s also a song about a way of life that was just starting to disappear.

Springsteen never let the success of Born to Run go to his head or make him forget where he came from. He never stopped singing for the people he grew up with: the blue-collar workers of New Jersey and the midwest. [Read more…]

The Case For Carbon Pricing – Treasurer’s Economic Note

Every Sunday, Treasurer Wayne Swan publishes an Economic Note dealing with issues of the day.

Today’s Note deals with the carbon pricing scheme that begins operation next weekend. It’s a well-argued piece that highlights the abject political failure of the government to prosecute its case with the electorate.

By all accounts, former prime minister Kevin Rudd was prevailed upon by Swan and Julia Gillard to drop the Emissions Trading Scheme in 2010. Since then, Gillard’s unconvincing meanderings on the issue, of which the alleged carbon tax ‘lie’ is just one element, have seen the government’s credibility on climate change issues destroyed.

Despite attempts to blame Opposition Leader Abbott and the media, the failure is a political one by a government that lacks the personnel with the political skills to build community support for its programs.

Treasurer’s economic note

I’ve always believed that markets offer the most effective way to create prosperity across the economy. Individuals and businesses make their own decisions about what to buy and what to sell, how much to spend and how much to invest, and where their time, energy and money is directed. This is the best way to encourage investment, drive growth and generate jobs. But of course markets are far from perfect. They don’t always work as they should. That’s why we need laws and regulations to try to make markets work for everybody. One example is pollution. At the moment, big polluters in Australia can release as much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as they want. They don’t pay a cent. The real cost of this pollution is borne by all of society. And ultimately – without necessary action – it will be a cost paid by our children, grandchildren and future generations. [Read more…]

Gillard-Swan Open Letter To G20 Leaders

This is the text of an open letter from Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan to G20 leaders.

The G20 met at the Los Cabos resort in Mexico. Various reports suggest the letter was not well received by other leaders.

The G20 is the “Group of Twenty Finance Minister and Central Bank Governors” from 19 countries plus the European Union. The countries are: United States, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, India, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, China, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea.

Dear colleagues,

The G20 Los Cabos Summit comes at a challenging time. Risks in Europe have intensified significantly in recent weeks.

Increasing concerns over Greece and the stability of the Spanish banking sector are adversely affecting global financial markets and moving us quickly into crisis management mode. [Read more…]

Unexpected 1.3% Economic Growth Rate In March Quarter

National Accounts figures released today show a 1.3% economic growth rate in the March quarter.

A growth rate of around 0.6% was predicted by most economists.

A beaming Treasurer Wayne Swan told a press conference that the nation should have a bounce in its step today and described the result as “stunning set of numbers”.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey awkwardly told his press conference that the economic situation would be even better, “if only we had a good government”.

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Text of media release by Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Today’s National Accounts paint an extraordinary picture of exceptional growth in the March quarter, and showcase the rock-solid economic fundamentals which put our economy in a league of its own, despite ongoing global turbulence.

Gross Domestic Product rose by a stunning 1.3 per cent in the quarter to be 4.3 per cent higher through the year, underpinned by a broad-based surge in business investment and strong growth in household consumption.

This is a remarkable outcome and reaffirms Australia’s position as one of the strongest economies in the world, with the Australian economy growing faster than every single major advanced economy in the March quarter. In through the year terms, this result is the fastest growth in over four years, which have been the most turbulent in the global economy since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

These figures come at time when many advanced economies are struggling to grow at all, with a number of economies already in recession and suffering crippling levels of unemployment. Europe faces profound economic challenges and this continues to cast a shadow over the global outlook. Despite these global challenges, the contrast between many advanced economies and the Australian economy could not be more stark.

Household consumption grew by a strong 1.6 per cent in the quarter and 4.2 per cent through the year, which is above its long term trend. Consumption growth was broad-based in the quarter, with continued strength in the consumption of services, but also of goods, with consumers taking advantage of price discounting by retailers. At the same time, households continued to strengthen their balance sheets, with the household saving ratio remaining high at 9.3 per cent in the quarter, supported by strong growth in household incomes. [Read more…]

Reserve Bank Cuts Cash Rate By 0.25%

The Reserve Bank has cut the cash by another 0.25%.

The reduction follows the 0.5% cut last month. The cash rate is now 3.50%.

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  • Table of interest rate changes since 1990

Statement by Glenn Stevens, Governor: Monetary Policy Decision

At its meeting today, the Board decided to lower the cash rate by 25 basis points to 3.50 per cent, effective 6 June 2012.

Growth in the world economy picked up in the early months of 2012, having slowed in the second half of 2011. But more recent indicators suggest further weakening in Europe and some further moderation in growth in China. Conditions in other parts of Asia have largely recovered from the effects of last year’s natural disasters, but the ongoing trend is unclear and could be dampened by slower Chinese growth. The United States continues to grow at a moderate pace. Commodity prices have declined lately, though they are mostly still high. Australia’s terms of trade similarly peaked about six months ago, though they remain historically high.

Financial market sentiment has deteriorated over the past month. The Board has noted previously that Europe would remain a potential source of adverse shocks. Europe’s economic and financial prospects have again been clouded by weakening growth, heightened political uncertainty and concerns about fiscal sustainability and the strength of some banks. Capital markets remain open to corporations and well-rated banks, but spreads have increased. Long-term interest rates faced by highly rated sovereigns, including Australia, have fallen to exceptionally low levels. Share markets have declined. [Read more…]