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 17/06/99

Transcript No. 99/45

Treasurer
Hon Peter Costello MP

Doorstop Interview

Melbourne

Thursday, 17 June 1999

2.30 pm

 

SUBJECT: Preselections, Ralph Review

JOURNALIST:

It was described in the Age today as "a declaration of war" by Premier Kennett against the so called Costello and Kroger forces in relation to Brighton and a few other seats. Have you got any comment in that area?

 

TREASURER:

Well I’m not aware of any such declaration. These preselections are matters for local branch members and they’ll make the right decision. Local branch members join the Liberal Party, they have a right to have a vote, they should have a right to have a vote, should be a free vote and I’ve got every faith in local branch members.

 

JOURNALIST:

Do you think Louise Asher should continue in Parliament (inaudible) seat of Brighton?

 

TREASURER:

Well look, you know Louise is Member for the Monash Province. I helped her in Monash Province in my area. I’ve always worked very well with her and she knows she has my support. New preselections coming up, new seat, let’s see who the candidates are. It’s up to the branch members who they want to vote for. It should be a free decision. Shouldn’t . . .

 

JOURNALIST:

Sorry, is it appropriate for the Premier to intervene in preselections in the way he did yesterday and what do you think of a Premier anointing his successor?

 

TREASURER:

Well look, I don’t want to comment on other people. I just make this point, that you know, the branch members decide these things. The Liberal Party is a party where people join to have a say. And in my experience what they want to do is they want to make up their mind, free and openly, that’s why they join the Liberal Party. This is the party of Menzies and I’ve always protected their right to have a free and open vote. You shouldn’t be afraid of free and open votes, so that’s what . . .

 

JOURNALIST:

Did Jeff Kennett make that vote harder, make that task harder?

 

TREASURER:

Well, I think that the members will just make up their own mind. I don’t think the members take direction in the Liberal Party. This is the party of Menzies, not the party of Marx. Its decision making flows upwards from the grass roots and the branch members will make their decisions.

 

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello, why has the Ralph Review requested an extension?

 

TREASURER:

Look, Mr Ralph wrote to me earlier this week. He said to me that we had referred additional matters to him at the request of the Australian Democrats. The matters were minimum company tax and personal service companies, and he said that that would take a bit longer time to look at. And I’ve written back to him today and extended the time period for the report to the 30th of July and Mr Ralph believes that he’ll be able to finish it by the 30th of July. I look forward to receiving it then.

 

JOURNALIST:

Will you be campaigning for Mitch Fifield if he proposes to contest Brighton?

 

TREASURER:

I want to make this point. I don’t tell people to nominate. I don’t tell them not to nominate. I don’t ring up delegates. In my view branch members do all of that. And whether it’s Mr Fifield or anybody else, I will say to them, go and speak to the local branch members, you want to be their local member. They want a local member who they have confidence in and let them decide. It’s not up to me to announce anybody’s candidature, I haven’t, I never have, I never will. And so I won’t be telling them what to do in the slightest.

 

JOURNALIST:

So you’ll play no role at all, no role at all in the Brighton by-election.

 

TREASURER:

Well, the people that will decide Brighton, ought to decide Brighton, are the Brighton branch members. Let me make that entirely clear. You join the Liberal Party, you pay a sub, you work for a candidate, you sell cakes on raffle stalls and every 10 or 15 years you get asked who you want to represent you. And in my experience in the Liberal Party, those people jealously guard that right. And it’s their right. It’s not my right, not anybody else’s right. It’s their right. And good luck to them, that’s what politics is all about.

 

JOURNALIST:

The Premier is treating it as a foregone conclusion, saying that Louise Asher did not want to stand but he asked her to, and he wouldn’t risk her career if he didn’t think it was a foregone conclusion.

 

TREASURER:

Well, you’ll have to ask Louise. I wouldn’t know whether she wanted to stand or not, you would have to ask her. Thanks.