Former Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan at the end of last week announced his retirement from federal parliament at the next election last week. Since Julia Gillard was deposed as Prime Minister and continuing since Labor lost office in 2013 Swan has been on the backbench.
He was first elected in 1993 as the Member for Lilley a federal seat in suburban Brisbane in 1993 before losing it in 1996 where he become Kim Beazley’s Chief of Staff. He wont it back again in 1998 and has held the seat at every election since.
Wayne Swan in his retirement stated he wanted a women to succeed him “I think it would be fitting if the party were to select on this occasion, a young woman with the energy and smarts to represent Lilley forcefully and successfully”. His replacement is rumoured to be Brisbane-based social justice lawyer Anika Wells.
It was during Wayne Swan’s reign as Treasurer under both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard where he brought down six budgets from 2008-13 for which he is most remembered for, or as some would argue infamously. He inherited a $20 billion surplus from the Howard Government but excessive stimulus spending on things such as the Building the Education Revolution and the deadly home insulation program saw Australian government debt blow out to $257 by the end of his time as Treasurer.
He failed to fulfill his promise of returning the budget to surplus by 2012-13 and no Treasurer since has been able to bring the budget even close to surplus. The dying days of the Gillard government also locked in billions in extra funding for Gonski school program and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Nevetherless Labor figures have still heaped praise of Swan following his retirement announcement, they have pointed out he did win the world’s greatest Treasurer award.
However it was Tanya Plibersek tribute to Swan which attracted the most attention as it was inadvertently worded truthfully.
Thank you @SwannyQLD for your lifetime of service to the Australian people.
Wayne will be remembered as one of the greatest Treasurers in our nation’s history. The Federal Parliament won’t be the same, but he’ll forever be a giant of the great ALP. We are in his debt. pic.twitter.com/fCsO8YMh8P
— Tanya Plibersek (@tanya_plibersek) February 10, 2018
You would think she would have chosen her works more carefully.
Not surprisingly Plibersek’s tribute has been widely mocked by fiscal conservatives on social media who have stated they agree with her that we are all in Wayne Swan’s debt.
High profile political players to draw attention to the tweet were NSW State Treasurer Dominic Perrottet:
and the Australian Conservatives:
The praise for Wayne Swan’s period as Treasurer should indicate Federal Labor’s lack of concern for the continued budget crisis Australia is facing with federal government debt now at $542 billon. Wayne Swan to many Australians is not a great loss to the parliament and will be pleased the last remnants of the Rudd/Gillard era are now leaving politics.