Transcript - Doorstop Interview (Parliament House, Canberra) (1)



SUBJECT/S: US Election, Economic Inequality

WAYNE SWAN: I just wanted to make a few points about the Presidential election result in the States because I think there is a warning, there's a lesson for democracy throughout the western world in this result. Essentially over the last forty years growing inequality of wealth and income distribution has poisoned our political system.

The power of vested interests has been deployed to put in place policies best described as trickle-down economics which has meant that the rich get richer, the middle class gets hollowed out and armies of working poor are created. That's precisely what has happened in the United States, where so many working people feel they have no say or stake in the prosperity which has not been fairly shared and is going to the top one, two, three, four or ten per cent. So from the Australia perspective we've not gone down that road in Australia. In this country we've done a better job over a longer period of time of sharing the fruits of our prosperity and we’ve had a much more stable and prosperous economy and a much more stable and prosperous society but all of that's under threat if we continue to see policies which exclude working people from the gains of their hard work and that's the one lesson that comes out of this American election result.

Working people felt that they had no say or stake in prosperity they felt they had nothing to lose by voting for populist solutions and of course when populist solutions happen all of those, all of those matters which agitate people in society who feel insecure, who feel threatened by people of different race or sexual orientation, they're all brought to the fore so in this country we need to be absolutely certain that we continue to put in place policies which fairly share the fruits of our prosperity and don't leave so many working people like they have in the united states. If you have 19th century economic outcomes we get 19th century politics and that’s what I think we've been seeing in the United States. We have to respect the result there but we have to learn the lessons and the lessons for Australia are powerful. Don't go down the American road of trickledown economics where economic policy seemingly delivers huge tax cuts and benefits to the top and fleeces the rest.

JOURNALIST: Do you have concerns for the Australia-US alliance post the result?

SWAN: Oh look I think we should you know just settle down and see how President Trump proceeds from here, the American alliance is very important to Australia and I would hope that it would be recognised in the United States but it’s not just important to Australia it’s important to the stability of our whole region. It’s not just Australia but it’s the whole of the Asian region that needs the Americans as an instructive part in our arrangements in this region.

JOURNALIST: How will Mr. Shorten work with Mr. Trump?

SWAN: Well I think there's a lot of unease across our political system we've seen it in members of the government and we've seen it for many across the political system who fear that we will see polarisation that flows from this I hope that doesn't happen and certainly President Trump has made reassuring messages since his election, let’s see how that plays out.