Swan sets a clear vision: Gottliebsen

When you go to a conference like the ADC Hayman Leadership Retreat you expect to have your base views confirmed but also enhanced with a whole series of new ideas.

At the 2012 Hayman Retreat, Alan Kohler and I were given vastly different views of the global environment. In some of the areas where I was concerned, such as Europe, I could actually see a way forward. (Alan Kohler will detail the players in a new scenario for Europe in Wednesday’s Eureka Report).

Meanwhile, there arose new threats to Australia that I really didn’t have on the radar. I want you to join me on this journey as we plot a very different course to the one that most people are expecting.

I want to start with our Treasurer, Wayne Swan.

During the last year or two, Wayne Swan has not endeared himself to the business community by defending an indefensible mining tax, claiming vast revenues from his replacement mining tax that were never there and giving mining entrepreneurs a kick.

All of this was good politics but it didn’t enhance his reputation as Treasurer.

But here at Hayman, speaking under Chatham House Rules, he showed a vision for our country. We will be part of the Asian growth story and he had a clear understanding of the various issues, particularly those in Europe, and that was backed up by some excellent submissions by Australian government officials (again under Chatham House rule) who showed that they were on top of the day-to-day events taking place around the world. It gave me confidence that if we have a global crisis, the people in charge of our economy will be able to handle it.

It is clear however, that our currency is being boosted by overseas central bank and sovereign fund buying because we are only one of two or three genuine triple-A rated countries. No one knows how far these funds will push our dollar but the authorities say any action against the buying will have repercussions that are worse than the dollar rise.

On the other side of politics, the coalition chose the Hayman Retreat to give the first detailed look at the sort of proposals they plan at the next election. The man responsible for the policy coordination, shadow finance minister Andrew Robb, released the “Fight Back” plan back in 1993 some 18 months before the election. Paul Keating minced him.

Once again the proposals that will be put before Australian voters will have incredible detail but this time they will not be released until close to the election to avoid the “Fight Back” mistake. With the help of a Robb video interview, I will look tomorrow at the underlying Coalition policies as explained at Hayman. Be ready for some surprises.

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