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Australia warns Europe not to ‘muck’ about

/ 10:44 AM October 24, 2011

SYDNEY – Australia on Monday accused European leaders of “mucking” about for 18 months, and being on a “never-ending journey of just seeking to muddle through” as they struggle to contain eurozone debt issues.

Treasurer Wayne Swan, who has repeatedly called on Europe to resolve the issue before it damages global growth, said he was frustrated at the pace of efforts and urged a resolution at a meeting set for Wednesday.

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“This has been going on for 18 months, and it is true that they have been mucking around for 18 months,” he told ABC Radio.

“We do need to see a comprehensive set of plans, and if we don’t see those, we will see a protracted recession in Europe and the obvious implications of that for the rest of the global economy.”

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European Union leaders closed in on a broad agreement over the weekend to tackle the euro crisis and it is hoped they will nail down definitive decisions at another EU summit on Wednesday to calm jittery markets.

Swan said this deadline needed to be met, adding that any solution needed to address Greece’s excessive levels of sovereign debt and provide a credible plan to recapitalise European banks.

“And also we do need to see a very sizeable war chest to deal with the threat of contagion, that is the spread of these sovereign debt issues to countries like Italy,” he said.

Swan’s comments were supported by Prime Minister Julia Gillard who warned Europe had been “living beyond its means” and had so far only adopted half-hearted measures to address structural issues.

“For the sake of the global economy they need to get this fixed,” she told The Australian newspaper.

“What the fix looks like is in the first instance a matter for them. But it must be fixed.”

Australia survived the global financial crisis without sliding into recession and enjoys positive growth on the back of its booming mineral and energy sectors, but officials stress it is not immune to global problems.

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“I’m very concerned that European leaders have been on what appears to be a never-ending journey of just seeking to muddle through,” Gillard said.

“That’s not going to cut it any more. Just muddling through, on a wish and a prayer, and hoping they can jawbone markets into a better analysis of the European position, is clearly not enough.”

Gillard, who will attend the G20 meeting in Cannes next month, praised US President Barack Obama for his efforts, saying he was pursuing “the right strategy”.

“The American economy, at base, is adaptable and resilient. I believe it will work its way through this challenge,” Gillard said.

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TAGS: Australia, Business, Debt crisis, economy, Europe, eurozone, Finance, Wayne Swan
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