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 08/05/01

Transcript No. 2001/052

TRANSCRIPT
of
THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Doorstop
Melbourne
Tuesday, 8 May 2001
8.30 am

SUBJECTS: Shane Stone, HIH, Budget

JOURNALIST:

…move on (inaudible) Stone…

TREASURER:

Well, I did that on Friday, I think.

JOURNALIST:

Well, John Anderson yesterday certainly seemed to still have concerns about it.

TREASURER:

Well, you’ll have to speak to Mr Anderson about that.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think it contributed to the slump in the polls?

TREASURER:

Look, Mr Stone made an error. He acknowledged that. He acknowledged that it did damage to the Government. Somebody took advantage of that to try and do some damage to the Government. It has been done. There is not any more you can say about it…

JOURNALIST:

Are you surprised by the result of the poll?

TREASURER:

I don’t comment on polls.

JOURNALIST:

Will Cabinet be having a look at a possible rescue package for HIH policy holders?

TREASURER:

I don’t know. I’ll have to go to the meeting and find out.

JOURNALIST:

Would you like it to be on the agenda?

TREASURER:

Well, I would like to find out what is being discussed when it comes in. I don’t know in advance, I don’t discuss those things, as you know.

JOURNALIST:

What about a proposal to, I guess, apply a 1 per cent levy to all other policy holders to help bail out HIH. Do you think that might have some merit?

TREASURER:

Well, as I say, I don’t know, I don’t canvass what is being discussed in the Cabinet and I can’t take it any further, I’m sorry.

JOURNALIST:

Will Cabinet be discussing any Budget measures to wind back the GST for caravan parks?

TREASURER:

No, I don’t think Cabinet will be looking at GST matters. No, I don’t.

JOURNALIST:

Will you be discussing the Budget matters?

TREASURER:

I think that most of the Budget matters have now been settled. It will be, the Budget will be handed down in a very short period of time. It is going to be hard, all Budgets are hard. It is the sixth Budget that I have done. We have to be careful with our expenditures, we have to target it well. We have got new tax cuts coming on stream on 1 July, we are abolishing Financial Institutions Duty, we’re cutting company tax. I see some of the States, Mr Steve Bracks is advertising his business tax reform as including abolishing financial institutions duty and stamp duties on marketable securities. The Victorian Government is required to do this out of the revenue from the GST. For Mr Bracks to be advertising this as one of his business tax reform, is a sham. All of the States are required to do that. So we are coming up to a Budget, it will be a tough Budget. We need to have targeted expenditures, we’ve got tax cuts coming on board, we need to keep the Budget in balance - that is, to spend less than is raised in revenue. And the good news yesterday is we had some good news on the economy in relation to retail trade. Retail trade was up 1.9 per cent in the March quarter, that will make a contribution to growth and I welcome the fact that consumers are still out there spending.

JOURNALIST:

What about unemployment? ANZ job ads fell again for the third consecutive month.

TREASURER:

Well, unemployment, I think, was, the ABS did a revision on unemployment, I think it is about 6.5 per cent, something like that, which is the lowest in a decade. So unemployment today is still the lowest in a decade. It is 2 per cent lower than it was when the Government came to office, there are still 750,000 more people in work than when the Government came to office. You would expect the slowing economy will mean that we won’t be creating jobs at the rate we were in the last two years, but I think there are very positive signs for the economy in the latter part of this year.

Thank you.