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 26/01/2001

Transcript No. 2001/002

TRANSCRIPT
of
THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Doorstop
Malvern
Melbourne
Friday 26 January 2001
12.15 pm

SUBJECTS: Australia Day, republic, US economy, tax cuts

TREASURER:

Well, it’s a great celebration for Australia’s one-hundredth birthday as a nation, here on Australia Day. It’s going to be a great year of celebration. And I’m sure those people that became Australian citizens for the first time today are very proud and they’re very welcome.

JOURNALIST:

The Prime Minister’s made some comments. He’s been asked again today about possibly changing the date of Australia Day in deference to some of the Aboriginal communities who are a bit upset about celebrating the beginning, the arrival of the First Fleet. What do you think about it?

TREASURER:

I don’t think there are any plans to change Australia Day. It commemorates the founding settlement, European settlement, and the beginning of the modern Australian experience. And as far as I know you can’t celebrate that on any other day than the 26th of January.

JOURNALIST:

The Australian Republican Movement are re-launching their campaign today in Hobart. Can it be put back on the agenda?

TREASURER:

Well, we all had our chance to vote in the republican referendum a little over a year ago and Australia voted against changing to a republic. But my view is that the question will come again at some time.

JOURNALIST:

Will it be an election issue?

TREASURER:

I don’t think it will be an election issue. I think the issue will come again at some time. I think I said before the vote, maybe in a decade. But it won’t come again immediately, I don’t think, because we all had our vote, we had the opportunity. Those that wanted change had the opportunity to vote for it and it was defeated. So you can’t keep going over the same question. But I think in the longer term, in the future, and I’m talking in decades, I’m sure people will reconsider the issue.

JOURNALIST:

Dr Greenspan’s given his nod to the trillion dollar tax cut. What’s your response to that and what implications do you think that will have for the Australian economy?

TREASURER:

Well, the US economic policy is of course a matter for the US government, not for me, so I don’t comment on the advisability of US tax cuts. But obviously the US economy is slowing, slowing considerably, and steps have already been taken by US authorities to stimulate the economy with interest rate cuts. And it will be up to the Congress as to whether they engage in further stimulation through income tax cuts. Let me make this point, in Australia on 1 July of last year we had the largest income tax cuts in Australian history. And there were a lot of people that were saying in July of last year, ‘that was too much stimulus’. I think even those critics will now look back and say it was the right thing to do. But bear this in mind, the Labor Party opposed that. And now, with the benefit of hindsight, you can see how out of touch they were and how they were opposing what has obviously proven to be quite an astute move in July of 2000.

JOURNALIST:

But if America does, you know, get tax cuts, what impacts would that have for us?

TREASURER:

I said when the US economy was booming throughout 1998 and 1999 only one thing is worse for Australia than a booming US economy, and that was a very weak US economy. Now the US economy boomed through 1998 and 1999, it’s now slowing. We hope it will be a soft landing. Not just Australia, the world hopes that this will be a soft landing in the US, so we welcome the moves that the US central bank has already put in place to stimulate the economy.

I’ll leave it there. Thanks.