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 25/05/01

Transcript No. 2001/077

EMBARGO

TRANSCRIPT
of
THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Doorstop
Grand Hyatt, Melbourne
Friday, 25 May 2001
12.45 pm

E&OE

SUBJECTS: Labor's tax increase plan

TREASURER:

Well, it took a 14 year old school boy to do it, but somebody asked Mr Beazley the obvious question yesterday, which is, how you are going to rollback GST and increase spending and pay for it? And Stephen Conroy gave the answer - the Labor Party is going to increase taxes. Now, Mr Beazley last night then got up and gave exactly the same pledge that Paul Keating gave before the 1993 election. And we know how that worked out, that pledge worked out in a 5 per cent increase in petrol excise, a 2 per cent increase in every wholesale sales tax and an increase in personal income tax rates. We had a 14-year-old boy yesterday, who said Kim Beazley's got no policy clothes, and everybody saw how naked he was. And it was not just the 14-year-old boy, we've now had Mr Keating's former economic adviser come out and say the same thing, quoted in today's paper. John Edwards, the Paul Keating economic adviser, said this: `the Opposition cannot now promise either tax cuts or additional spending without also raising new taxes'. Now, I say this to Kim Beazley, come clean, if you've got your tax plan all worked out tell the Australian people what it is. Tell them what the tax rises will be before the election, don't try and do what you did last time in 1993 introduce them after the election. Come clean with the Australian people, Mr Beazley and tell them about the tax rises now.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, Steve Conroy didn't say that they'd increase taxes, he said they had set priorities. Isn't that what you do? Isn't it just being honest?

TREASURER:

Steve Conroy said Labor had to make hard decisions, that they had to make hard decisions between cutting programmes and raising taxes...

JOURNALIST:

Or raising taxes.

TREASURER:

...and raising taxes...

JOURNALIST:

...no, he said or, I saw it on television, they (inaudible).

TREASURER:

...now, which is it? Now, Kim Beazley got up last night in his Budget speech and talked about increasing spending. If he's increasing spending, then it can only be tax rises. And the thing about Mr Beazley is this, that you don't have to go any further than the last election that the Labor Party won to find out what the trick is. Kim Beazley said that the Labor Party was entitled to raise taxes after it won the 1993 election because nobody flushed out their tax plan beforehand. This is what he said in the House of Representatives on the 28th September 1993. He said: `When the Government of the day gets up and says it will sustain the current level of taxation, and the taxation that is predicted in the out years is falling, the public clearly knows that at any point of time a Government is going to adjust taxation levels'. We are in precisely the same situation now. He is giving you, he is giving you the hint. The Labor Party wants to increase taxes. Now, that's fair enough, as long as they tell the Australian people. The Labor Party can increase taxes, as they intend to do, as long as they tell the Australian people before the election. That's the thing I am saying now, come clean Mr Beazley. A 14-year-old boy nailed him on this point yesterday, John Edwards confirms it. It is the same trick as they tried in 1993. They have to come clean.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Beazley last night ruled out raising personal income taxes though.

TREASURER:

Mr Beazley last night did not say that he ruled out all tax rises. He was very careful about that. He never said anything about tax thresholds, he never said anything about company taxes, he never said anything about petrol excise, he never said anything about Financial Institutions Duty. The one thing you know is that the Labor Party, to pay for its plan, has to raise taxes. Now, all we say is, tell us which ones, and tell us how much. The people of Australia are entitled to know that. Tell us how much, tell us when, and tell us which ones. Don't try and do what you did in 1993 Mr Beazley, you announced it after the election. Tell the people before the election. It is a very, very obvious point and he ought to have the decency to come out and do that.

JOURNALIST:

Why could a 14-year-old, why could a 14-year-old student get the answer out of him and you couldn't?

TREASURER:

Well, I think the 14-year-old student asked the Labor Party the obvious question which I've been asking for years. What happened this time is somebody gave the answer. And I'd say also to the press of Australia, I mean I couldn't get the answer, you the press of Australia couldn't get the answer, the 14-year-old boy got the answer. But the challenge now for me, and it's a challenge for the press of Australia too, is now that we know there's a tax plan, we've got to get the details. That's what we've got to get. And I'd say to the press of Australia, we've now, you've now got to be part of this effort to find out the tax plan. You know, what taxes, how much are they going up? It's the most obvious point. You cannot spend more money and rollback the GST without getting the money from somewhere. And the money has to come from increased taxes. Well if he's going to increase taxes, the only thing I say is, tell us which taxes, tell us by how much, so that the people of Australia know your plan before the election. Because when we were too soft on them in 1993 they skated back into office, they turned around and they said ha, ha, we're entitled to put up taxes because you never flushed us out before the election. Well, we've all got to flush out the Labor Party before this election. We need to know. Tell us which taxes Mr Beazley.

Thanks.