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 12/05/99

Transcript No. 99/34
Treasurer
Hon Peter Costello MP

Radio 3AW Breakfast Show

Wednesday, 12 May 1999

8.05 am

SUBJECTS: Budget

JOURNALIST:

We go to the national capital of Australia and the Treasurer of the nation, Mr Peter Costello, joins us on the line. Good morning Treasurer.

TREASURER:

Good morning Dean, how are you?

JOURNALIST:

Very well. Youd be delighted to know on the front page of The Age this morning, Tiger fans plot a Sheedy coup.

TREASURER:

I saw that yes, that was the big news of the day, with the Budget sort of a bit, a bit below it. But oh well, weve got our eye on those Tiger fans, dont you worry about them.

JOURNALIST:

Well an Essendon man like yourself, I thought that would have troubled you more than anything else this morning.

TREASURER:

Yes, well my eyes went directly to it as it turns out.

JOURNALIST:

Its been called the big if Budget Treasurer, and if we get the GST and if we sell Telstra all this prevails. A bit like you know, if my grandmother had a moustache shed be my grandfather.

TREASURER:

Well look, this is a Budget for 1999-2000, thats the forthcoming financial year and its not affected by the tax system. People are looking out and saying in 2000-2001 when the new tax system is due to come into place what happens if the Senate defeats it. I suppose the Senate can defeat tax reform, but it wouldnt be acting in Australias interests if it did, but this budget actually stands for the year before the current year, and it stands completely independently of what happens in future years.

JOURNALIST:

Apart from looking at the name Sheedy on the front page of The Age this morning, did you also look for the name Harradine and his response?

TREASURER:

Well Senator Harradines a key Senator, although youve got to bear this in mind. Senator Harradine only gets to be the key Senator in the Senate because Labor votes against everything. If Labor doesnt vote against everything, then Senator Harradine doesnt become the key vote, so...

JOURNALIST:

Thats what Oppositions do.

TREASURER:

Well no, thats not what Oppositions that care about the national interest do. Certainly, when we were in Opposition and Labor was trying to engage in some reform we supported some of the important reforms, but.

JOURNALIST:

The paper says this morning, one of the headlines says, Tassie the big winner. Given that youve clearly got the shovel out and shovelled a bit in the direction of Tassie are you disappointed with Senator Harradines response?

TREASURER:

Look we dont.

JOURNALIST:

If you dont play the music he wont waltz.

TREASURER:

We, we dont play the music just for one person, this is a Budget for 18 million Australians. Im the Treasurer, the Prime Minister is the Prime Minister of Australia, and what weve got to look at is the national interest. We dont sit down and say this is a Budget for one particular person. This is a Budget for all of us. Its a Budget which is designed to keep the economy strong, mortgage interest rates low, inflation low, its a program which can actually wipe out Commonwealth debt and I think set us up for a 21st Century much as we entered the 20th Century: young, free, prosperous, debt free, with a clean sheet and everything in front of us.

JOURNALIST:

The Prime Minister said this on the ABC this morning Treasurer: "I thought Peters introduction was a touch too and I dont think its fair to categorise the situation as rolling in money. Surpluses dont sit in the bank, they are used to pay off debt". Poor quality, but essentially said your intro with talk of pots of money and the like was over the top.

TREASURER:

Well, what intro was that?

JOURNALIST:

I assume hes referring to your introductory remarks last night.

TREASURER:

Well, I dont think I made any statement to that effect.

JOURNALIST:

Do you know what he was talking about?

TREASURER:

No, I dont know what thats about, no.

JOURNALIST:

We were talking to your brother this morning on a totally unrelated matter, might we hasten to add, and he marked it seven out of ten. Where do you reckon the three went?

TREASURER:

I dont know, perhaps he thought if he was doing it, he could have found the additional three.

JOURNALIST:

Sounds like the Prime Minister might have marked it.

 

TREASURER:

I dont think so. I think Id.

JOURNALIST:

Will you be giving him a call and saying well you know, thanks for your support this morning?

TREASURER:

I think Id investigate the quality of your tape myself.

JOURNALIST:

No thats the ABC.

TREASURER:

Well I think I would investigate the quality of their tape.

JOURNALIST:

And I dont think theyd be marking it seven out of ten.

TREASURER:

It proves what happens when you listen to competitors. Id say to all of your listeners stay on 3AW.

JOURNALIST:

Richard Farmer is our Canberra correspondent. We said if he could ask one question of the Treasurer, what would it be? And his was an interesting response. He said I would ask him where he has learnt the, his new method of delivery. Where there is no longer the smirk, no longer the arrogance?

TREASURER:

Well look, weve worked very hard trying to put this Budget together. Its been a tough time for our country and for the world. Nearly all of Asia is in recession, nearly all of Asia is in recession and I guess there were times in the last two years where people thought that Australia might give up, that we would go into recession too, and the fact that weve done so well and the economic reforms have carried us so far, means that all of the work was worth it and I think we can sit down now and we can say we survived the first two years of the Asian financial crisis.

JOURNALIST:

May I interrupt you Treasurer to say that weve had some advice and we must clarify and apologise to you. The Peter being referred to you, to, by the Prime Minister was not you.

TREASURER:

Well

JOURNALIST:

It was a reporter and in apologising to you we say that youd obviously know him a hell of a lot better than we do.

TREASURER:

What did I say to you never listen to the ABC, didnt I?

JOURNALIST:

Not too low, the ink dye, the ink dried on how much youve allocated to the ABC yet?

TREASURER:

Well I dont think theres anything for 3AW in this budget, I can assure you of that. Although there are of course income tax cuts for all Australians and knowing both you fellows pay your income taxes regularly as you do, theres something for you there.

JOURNALIST:

Oh no, youve put money in for communications with regard to digital change, and if we want to be philanthropists and support cultural activities, youre offering us tax breaks.

TREASURER:

I think theres another important thing here for Victoria too and that is that the doubling of money for the National Health and Medical Research Council which is going to make us at the cutting edge of development in health and science and biotechnology. Thatll be a great thing for Victoria, Victoria has a terrific health and medical research centre. It has some wonderful young scientists and I just feel that this is a great opportunity to bring forth the new pioneers of the new century. The

JOURNALIST:

Is that recognition at last for what goes on in Parkville?

TREASURER:

Well yes, Parkvilles one of the areas, but its not just Parkville its the teaching hospitals too and Monash and some of the other institutions. Ive met some of these scientists that, that really are world class scientists. These are people that are looking at potential cures for heart disease and cancer and all of those sorts of things and theyre sitting down there, the best and the brightest and they have so much to offer us and to give in commercial and health and medical areas and this is going to be a great thing for the next century, I think, the new pioneers cutting back the frontiers in science.

JOURNALIST:

But were sort of looking at the future now as being rosy, possibly prosperous, as you say entering the next century the way we started the old one. Does it sometimes worry you, at the time of the Asian meltdown it was predicted that this would have a dire effect in Australia and now the way that were predicting good times, that that may in fact mean bad times?

TREASURER:

Well sure, look, most economic commentators were predicting a really severe downturn in Australia. Most people thought I was being a little optimistic; Japan went into recession and Hong Kong went into recession and Singapore went into recession and New Zealand went into recession and Korea went into recession and everybody said well how can Australia possibly avoid a recession. And our view was if we put our heads down, if we engage in the economic reform, we might be able to avoid recession. We did better than that, we grew faster than America, and England and France and Germany and Europe and the developed nations of the world. Now thats the payoff for economic reform and the point I keep making is we do more economic reform and youre going to get the payoff in four and five and six years. I think the next decade could be a great decade for our country and I thats what we ought to be looking at.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, according to information that weve received the Federal Government is currently conducting a research program and one of the questions posed was would you be interested in being paid your pension by another organisation other than Centrelink; answer yes or no? Are you planning on changes to the payment of the pension?

TREASURER:

This is not another one of your tapes is it? The pension is paid through the agency but its paid by the Federal Government and it is as I understand it, its paid direct into bank accounts, or it can be paid direct into bank accounts. I think its a system which is working pretty well.

JOURNALIST:

And we can tell you for sure we have spoken to your brother this morning. And, he may need your advice. Treasurer what is your advice to him, he has been offered, we believe, well its certainly tens of thousands of dollars by Toyota to record an ad for them that requires him to say "At times like these its hard to know who to have faith in and thats gospel brother". And hes knocked it back.

TREASURER:

Is that right?

JOURNALIST:

Yeah. Well so far.

TREASURER:

Now that actually happened did it?

JOURNALIST:

Yes that did.

TREASURER:

I am actually speaking to Ross and Dean am I? This is 3AW?

JOURNALIST:

They may need your help.

TREASURER:

And that wasnt the ABC that you previously.

JOURNALIST:

Which Peter is this?

TREASURER:

This is the one that wants Kevin Sheedy at Essendon.

JOURNALIST:

Thanks for your time this morning.

TREASURER:

Thanks very much for your time.

JOURNALIST:

Oh what a feeling. The Treasurer of the nation, Peter Costello, joining us there.