WAYNE SWAN MP
MEMBER FOR LILLEY
SKY NEWS – NEWSDAY WITH LAURA JAYES
TUESDAY, 10 JULY 2018
SUBJECTS: Mark Latham; Jenny Macklin
LAURA JAYES: Live to Brisbane now; Labor Party President Wayne Swan joins us live. Mr Swan, is Richo [Graham Richardson] right?
WAYNE SWAN, MEMBER FOR LILLEY: Well I think what all this demonstrates is what a fractured mess the conservative side of politics has become. And yes, of course Mark Latham ratted on the Labor Party, but that’s not the important point here. What we are now seeing is the extremism on the right of politics. Who would’ve said two years ago that Pauline Hanson would be voting for Malcolm Turnbull 90 per cent of the time and backing in 17 billion dollars’ worth of tax cuts for the banks? And now, Mark Latham comes along and gets in the extreme trickledown cart with Mr Turnbull and Pauline Hanson. It is simply extraordinary.
JAYES: Does it say something about the Labor Party though, Mr Swan, that its one‑time leader is now identifying with Pauline Hanson? He was once the hope of the side for you guys, and now he’s in that cart as you say.
SWAN: Well, I was never a supporter of Mark Latham at any stage, and certainly never voted for him for anything but, all political parties from time to time have people who leave and take different paths. Mark Latham’s path is particularly destructive and there have been people like that before on the Labor side of politics and there have been people like that on the Liberal side of politics.
In fact, there was Billy Hughes who went through every party except the Country Party. Well I think Mark Latham is going through just about every party and there is no party too right-wing for Mark Latham. And apparently now, no party too right-wing for Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party who have taken this extreme trend to the right with extreme trickle-down economics.
JAYES: How are you getting that link there, between Mark Latham having a pretty almighty barney with Richo last night about doing robocalls with Pauline Hanson and then slamming that home to Malcolm Turnbull? I mean, Mark Latham is no fan of Malcolm Turnbull either.
SWAN: What we’ve got is a by-election in Queensland where One Nation is backing Malcolm Turnbull. We’ve had a situation in the Parliament where Pauline Hanson has backed the Liberals 90 per cent of the time, including on cuts to penalty rates, including on these very big cuts to corporate taxes, which are going to rip money out of health and education. This is very relevant.
The radicalisation of the conservative side of politics by this extreme tea party virus – of which Mark Latham is part and Pauline Hanson is now part – is a feature of Australian politics and it unfolds daily.
JAYES: But what responsibility should you take? You are now the ALP President; you’re a representative of one of the two major parties. Mark Latham is not alone in wanting to vote for a minor party. He is not alone in thinking that. Millions of Australians are doing the same. So more generally, what are the major parties doing so wrong that millions of people want to vote for parties like Pauline Hanson’s?
SWAN: Well I think the Labor Party has demonstrated that we’ve learnt the lesson of unity and of also clear purpose when it comes to policy. And what we’ve seen over the past five years has been a pretty good performance from the Labor Party having learnt from mistakes that we have made over the last decade or so. And one of those mistakes of course, was Mark Latham! And you could well argue that his rise to leadership was the start of problems with instability in the Labor Party.
We have learnt from those. And of course, through that period, people have become disillusioned. So the Labor Party, we’ve been back to basics. Particularly with our policy which puts the interests of working people first. And that is what is being contested now in this by-election.
So for Mark Latham to come in behind One Nation, who have come into the by-election behind the Liberal Party, and to back in some of these extremely right-wing policies, which are going to benefit the wealthy at the expense of ordinary working people, is entirely relevant to the events that occurred on your channel last night.
JAYES: If what you’re saying is true, that the Labor Party has gone back to basics, winning Longman should be a fait accompli for Labor, shouldn’t it?
SWAN: Not at all, and we don’t take it for granted. But let me make this point Laura, we have only held this seat for five years out of the last twenty-two.
JAYES: But you say you’ve been unified for the last five years, so all those people who voted for One Nation at the last election should be coming home to the Labor Party?
SWAN: We’re out to do everything we can do to win, but no one should be under any allusions that this is a terribly close seat. If you want to have a look at the opinion polls – people quote them all the time – we’ve had this narrative that’s emerged from the Government about how well they’re doing, until you see the three‑month aggregations in the paper yesterday, and they show the Labor Party’s in good nick. But this is one of those seats, even in good times, we have always found difficult to win. So we are going to put our best foot forward. What we get from the Prime Minister is a torrent of abuse of the Leader of the Opposition and now we get that with Mark Latham and Pauline Hanson.
JAYES: Mark Latham will be loving all of this won’t he?
SWAN: He certainly would. And I don’t think he deserves that sort of prominence. So he decided at the behest of One Nation to inject himself into a by-election in Queensland where there are a lot of people who are doing it really tough. There are a lot of people up there, for example, who have had their penalty rates cut. There are a lot of people up there suffering because money has been cut from the Caboolture Hospital. I think they resent the use of Mark Latham in this way by One Nation.
JAYES: You say you’ve never been a fan of Mark Latham; this is the last question I am going to ask about him. You’ve had an up-close view of his journey through the Labor Party, and joining the Liberal Democrats, and now doing voiceovers for One Nation. He seems to have a visceral hatred of the ALP; why do you think that is? What’s shaped his views to now?
SWAN: Well I think, as was pointed out in that exchange last night, the Labor Party gave him everything he ever had and he seems to resent it. I can’t explain that. I think it’s pretty poor form, but that’s just the way he is.
JAYES: Let me finally ask you about a very different character, and that is Jenny Macklin. She’s bowing out of politics after a decade of service to public policy. Much has been said about Jenny Macklin over recent days since she announced this decision. I think that she has been a quiet achiever, not always grandstanding for her own personal benefit, but getting a lot done behind the scenes. Do you think she would’ve made a good leader?
SWAN: She’s a very good leader in every way. A role model, I think, for many people in politics, and someone I’ve always looked up to. We worked really closely together both in Shadow Cabinet and in Cabinet over six years. There probably were no two people who were closer in our relationship. And I have the highest regard to her, and I always look up to her political and policy judgement, as do many people in the Labor Party. She was particularly front-and-centre when we were putting together our stimulus packages that saved the country over the Christmas of 2008-2009 from recession. She was centre of the second stimulus package. She was there for Paid Parental Leave. She was there for the big pension increase. She’s just been a real engine room of policy, but a terrific person as well.
JAYES: Wayne Swan, thanks so much for your time today. We’ll speak soon.
SWAN: Thank you.
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Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra