Treasurer Swan Urges Greater Participation in Policy Debate
29 March 2012 at 12:45 pm
Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan addresses the 2012 ACOSS Conference in Sydney. Photo: Jackie Hanafie
The Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan has opened the Australian Council of Social Service’s 2012 Conference by highlighting the importance of Australians to have a stake in the policy debate and economic success of the country.
Addressing the more than 200 delegates in Sydney, Swan said: “We can’t allow the national debate to be monopolised by the most privileged 0.01 per cent… they don’t speak for the national majority.”
Swan said that the need for vigorous debate in Australia was vital and that all Australians should have a stake in the country’s economic outcomes.
He rejected accusations however, that having a say was the ‘politics of envy’.
“It’s not envy to expect to have a stake in the nation’s future. It’s not envy to expect to be included in a national debate. It’s not envy to expect to have a decent shot at a decent life for everybody in a country like ours," he said.
“It’s not about being anti-business or anti-wealth, it’s about how we decide what kind of society we want to be; what kind of future we want and who gets to be part of that process.”
Swan said that his determination was to see more Australians will enjoy the benefits of the’ Asian century’ and that the biggest question in politics was what we use our prosperity for.
“A strong economy only matters if we use it to make a strong community,” he said. “And we can’t create strong communities unless we have a strong economy.”
Speaking about the importance of Australians having a stake in the country’s economic success, Swan said that a core priority for the Federal Government was to ensure that every Australian has a stake in the great opportunities that come our way as a consequence of growth in our region in the years ahead.
“The view that if we don’t grow together, we will grow apart is what motivates all the calls our government has made,” he said.
However, Swan said that in the government’s attempt to return the budget to surplus, funding to some government programs will be cut.
He said that the government’s budget management is about making social improvement possible and sustainable over time.
“In this budget we will do our absolute best to continue to provide a helping hand to those that need it most,” Swan said.
Meanwhile ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie said that returning the budget to surplus was the right approach to take but that surplus shouldn’t be the absolute outcome of the budget.
“We need to look at the way we are raising and spending money to have the best social and economical outcomes for the economy,” Goldie said.
Goldie said that it was important there is a strong focus on how an increase in payments for those most vulnerable can be secured.
“The time has come to lift the rate. $35 a day is just not enough,” she said.
Goldie said that ACOSS had recommended a $50 per week increase in the Newstart and Youth Allowance payments.