The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Peter Costello

Peter Costello

Treasurer

11 March 1996 - 3 December 2007

Transcript of 09/04/1999

Transcript No. 99/25
Treasurer
Hon Peter Costello MP

Doorstop Interview

Thursday 8 April, 1999

8.50 am

SUBJECT: Premiers' Conference

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, yesterday the Treasury official said, that they were concerned that the compensation package for pensioners might be eroded. Does that damage your case for the GST?

TREASURER:

Well of course they didn’t say that. What, the point that was made yesterday was that as a result of increases in pensions all pensioners get rises in their pensions faster than prices. That is the value of pensions goes up. The question was asked, well what happens if wages go up higher in the future than prices? The answer is pensioners are even better off. The important thing that happened yesterday was that the Labor Party’s preferred modeller, Anne Harding, found that there were no losers as a result of the Government tax change and that everybody received benefits. Now, I think that ends the argument. Nobody has yet identified any class of person that would be worse off under tax reform.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello is there any scope for any money for the states for transitional arrangements under the GST?

TREASURER:

Well, lets put this in a big context, isn’t it? The states are here today to discuss their share of GST. But we’ve still got a long way to go haven’t we, to get a new tax system in Australia. But we welcome the fact that the states are all very supportive of tax reform. That they’re here to negotiate their shares. And this is not a bottomless pit, we’ve got to make sure that we keep the Commonwealth of Australia in a good financial position, and the states in a good financial position.

JOURNALIST:

There is room to offer a bit more money to get them to sign on the dotted line?

TREASURER:

Well, when you say offer more money, the Commonwealth offer to the states is to give them all of the revenue from GST. All of the revenue from GST. The most generous offer in federal history. Now, you can always say I’ve had the best offer in federal history but, I’d like the best offer but 5 per cent. You’ve still got the best offer. The best offer.

JOURNALIST:

So where does your pit end?

TREASURER:

Well, our pit ends with the Australian taxpayer. Bear this in mind, Governments that want more money are Governments that are arguing for taxpayers to pay for it. I mean, I’m here to protect the taxpayer as much as anybody else.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Beattie says he’ll lobby Mal Colston hard over the GST if they don’t get more compensation. Is that a concern to you at all?

TREASURER:

I’ve spoken to Senator Colston as late as today, because Senator Colston is somebody who has very well represented the state of Queensland. And I had discussions with Senator Colston this morning, he put to me his views on tax reform and I thought he made a very good case, so I can tell you this, Senator Colston is doing a good job for Queensland.

JOURNALIST:

Does he share . . .

TREASURER:

He’s doing a better job for Queensland than some of those Labor Party Senators that are immovable on the subject.

Thanks.