29 October 2012




DOYLE: Penny Wong, good morning.

WONG: Good morning. Good to be with you.

DOYLE: You too. I want to ask you about the Asian Century White Paper in just a tick, but, first up, will there be a challenge against that decision to drop you from the top spot on the South Australian Senate ticket in favour of Don Farrell?

WONG: I was pre-selected on the weekend again and I’m very honoured. Because it’s always an honour to be pre-selected by the Labor Party. In terms of internal party processes, you’d be unsurprised that I will say that I’m really not going to engage in public commentary about those matters.

DOYLE: Alright, well my last question on it though that Bruce Hawker just said then: this goes to the heart of what is wrong with the internal structures of the Labor Party. Are you humiliated?

WONG: (laughs) I’m always very honoured to get pre-selection. I’ve been pre-selected now, can you believe it, over a decade, representing Labor and South Australia in the federal Parliament. But, look, I’m the Finance Minister and I think I need to focus on doing that job and on talking to you about the Asian Century White Paper which the Prime Minister released yesterday.

DOYLE: Alright, a very elegant answer, I must say. We’re hearing more details about Kevin Rudd and what happened in 2010. Do you think he should be quiet now?

WONG: I agree with Bruce. I think we’ve got to focus on the future, rather than the past. It’s certainly the way I try and approach politics and I think that’s more important and so that’s where my focus is and I think that’s where the party’s focus should be and that’s where the Government’s focus certainly is.

DOYLE: So then, speaking of the future, the latest Newspoll’s got Labor drawing level with the Coalition, two-party preferred. Is this damaging?

WONG: I make a practice of not commenting too much on polls, otherwise that’s all you talk about because there’s always a poll, isn’t there? (laughs) But I think Australians are becoming increasingly clear about what Tony Abbott stands for and that’s a pretty negative perspective. Someone who’s pretty good at saying ‘No’ and pretty good at going in for the aggressive attack but not very good at saying what he thinks is the right thing for the next generation of Australians and what’s the right thing for Australia’s future.

DOYLE: Alright, well let’s talk about the Asian Century White Paper. Essentially it is a blueprint for Australia’s future in the region. Why do you think we need Asia so much right now?

WONG: The global economy is coming our way. The reality that is the centre of global economic growth increasingly will shift towards Australia and towards Asia. And Asia will go from being the biggest exporters to the largest number of consumers. Now that’s an extraordinary opportunity for Australia. And if we’re going to grasp that opportunity, we need to understand it and we need to plan and we need to integrate that plan into our policies. That’s what this blueprint does.

DOYLE: Do you think we haven’t enough in the past?

WONG: We can always do better. We’ve done a lot of good things in the past and the White Paper talks about that – the fact that we’ve got a productive, open economy. That’s a really good thing; the legacy of the Hawke and Keating Labor Governments. But you’ve always got to do more because as you know if you just sit back, you don’t get the opportunities and complacency is never the way to prosperity.

DOYLE: Penny Wong, thanks for joining us this morning. Appreciate your time.

WONG: Good to be with you.