A week may be a long time in politics, but so is thirteen minutes when you’re up against Ali Moore, the ABC’s sharpest interviewer. With an amused twinkle in her eye, Ali slowly grilled Wayne Swan to reveal that underneath his shiny new cloak of “The World’s Greatest Finance Minister” lies… not very much at all.
“I believe there is a serious situation in the global economy,” Wayne informed startled viewers, before enlightening us that he personally sees his main role as “getting on with making sure that we strengthen the global economy.” Whew!
“Can you give us some detail?” Ms. Moore repeatedly begged, struggling in the face of a tsunami of bureaucratic jargon along the lines of “All of these things are part of the architecture of a comprehensive response” and “a sizeable facility to assist a European financial stability facility.” Until Wayne finally confessed: “it's entirely a matter for the European ministers to talk about what they intend to do.” And, er… that’s it.
As for genuine insights into the global debt crisis, Australia’s IMF role, cabinet leaks, the effects of onshore processing on the surplus and the legalities of the carbon tax – all raised by the determined Ms. Moore - Swan failed to deliver anything other than pre-rehearsed spin and obfuscation.
To the point where the interview tipped into satire: “I couldn't give you an update on that, but there will be an update on that in the normal processes through the mid-year review at the end of the year. That's the appropriate time to provide the update.”
By the end, our world-famous Treasurer was left floundering that: “I don’t know if those reports were accurate or not,” “I'm not ruling anything in or out,” and “I'm not going to speculate about what may or may not happen.”
Even the amiable Ali struggled to keep smiling.