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

Peter Costello


11 March 1996 - 3 December 2007

Transcript of 22/11/99

Transcript No. 99/88


The Hon Peter Costello MP


Doorstop Interview

Monday, 22 November 1999

8.45 am


SUBJECT: Business Tax, Labor's Position


The Labor Party’s been saying now for months, they want to be relevant on business tax and they’ve got the chance to do that by voting for the Government’s reforms. This is not the time for them to keep putting things off, keep umm-ing and ahhr-ing. They’ve got to make a decision. They need some leadership. And if they have leadership they’ll be voting for these reforms.


What assurance can you give the ALP that these changes will be revenue neutral?


No, they’re revenue positive. They actually, over the course of the four years, slightly increase revenue take. And that’s fully costed and that’s been put out in the Senate proceedings. So you see, this is just an excuse that Labor uses to try and not make a decision, where they keep saying, they need information or they need more work to be done or something like that. What they need to do is they need to make a decision. That’s the critical thing. They need leadership. To make the decision they need leadership. So if Kim Beazley has any leadership, Labor will come out and support business tax reform. If it doesn’t, that will indicate that Mr Beazley can’t lead his party.


Will you be showing them the way by having talks, perhaps this week, with the Opposition?


Well, we’ll continue our talks with the Australian Democrats who’ve been very constructive in relation to tax reform generally. And we expect to have some more talks with the Australian Democrats this week. If Labor wants to make itself relevant on business taxation then it’s got to make a decision. You see, you can’t be in federal politics and avoid making decisions. Mr Beazley’s got to be able to make a decision, and a decision he’s got to be able to make is whether or not he’s going to support business tax reform.


But the Democrats still think there’s a massive hole in the package as well. Why . . .


Well we’ve had some constructive discussions already with the Democrats and they’ll continue this week. At the end of the day Australia will get business tax reform if the opposition parties recognise the need for big structural reform in this country. That’s the important thing.


But the report this afternoon is expected to show that there are some holes still in the package.


Well, the report this afternoon will be a political report from the Australian Labor Party. And I have no doubt they’ll try and make some political points. But the costing has been done by the Treasury, and the costing has been done by John Ralph, and it’s revenue positive. Now, no amount of political blustering from the Australian Labor Party can change that. They are the independent costings. And the independent costings shows that this is good business tax for Australia. No amount of political jockeying changes facts. Thanks.