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 13/07/01

Transcript No. 2001/094

 

TRANSCRIPT
of
HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Full Transcript of Interview with Josephine Cafagna
ABC Stateline
PRE-RECORD
Melbourne
Friday, 13 July 2001
10.15 am

 

SUBJECTS: Aston, Federal election, Peter Reith

CAFAGNA:

Mr Costello, what are the repercussions of a loss in Aston for the Liberal Party?

TREASURER:

Oh, I think that the representation for the people of Aston wont be as good as it was under Peter Nugent and it wont get as good representation in Parliament. Wider than that you would expect the normal by-election swing of about 5 or 6 per cent. It looks as if the swing is going to be of that order, that is what the polls are showing, so it looks as if it is the normal type of by-election scenario.

CAFAGNA:

And why do you think that extra 5 per cent would vote against the Liberals. What are the reasons?

TREASURER:

Oh, I dont think there is any local reason. I think the local reasons are for voting for the Government to build them the Scoresby freeway, in particular, which the Government is absolutely committed to. But you always have people that use by-elections to grumble at one time or another, and that is why you normally get swings in by-elections.

CAFAGNA:

And what have you gauged, is, for example, the GST is one of the major grumbles?

TREASURER:

I think that the major issue out in Aston, and Ive been out there on a number of occasions, has been the Scoresby freeway. That is the big local issue, and the building of that which, whatever side you are on, there are a lot of people that dont want the Scoresby freeway built, seems to be the key issue out there.

CAFAGNA:

Will a third term Liberal Government give further income tax cuts? And if so, how soon in that term?

TREASURER:

Well, weve cut income taxes last year, as you know. And because weve re-weighted the tax system with the introduction of GST weve been able to lower income taxes dramatically. If you keep that system in place than you have the capacity for lower income taxes as weve shown. But let me give you one fact, this is very important, if we had not cut income taxes 12 months ago average earners today would be paying 43 cents in the dollar on each additional dollar of income. We cut that to 30 cents.

CAFAGNA:

So your commitment for further cuts?

TREASURER:

If Labor had had its way youd be paying 43 cents in the dollar on average wages. Now, what that shows is that tax reform has enabled us to lower income taxes and good economic management, now it should always be shared with people, and you should always punt for the lowest tax regime that is consistent with a good economy and good social services.

CAFAGNA:

So is that a commitment to further tax cuts?

TREASURER:

It is an indication to you that the Liberal Party is a party of low income taxes. If we return to Government keeping income taxes low is our priority, whereas I think Mr Beazley has made it quite clear he thinks that income taxes are not too high, he wants to re-weight the taxation system onto the direct tax system, and what that means is that rollback will lead to higher income taxes.

I dont think there is any doubt about that. If you are going to rollback GST, you are going to have to roll up something else. And the only thing Mr Beazley has got left to roll up, of course, is income taxes.

CAFAGNA:

What is the state of the Liberal Party vote in Victoria, as you gauge it?

TREASURER:

In relation to the Federal situation? Look, weve got a tough election on our hands in Aston. Youd have to say that the Labor Party is probably the favourite and that means that we have to work hard to concentrate on the issues that people are interested in.

CAFAGNA:

And you would go into the next Federal election that way?

TREASURER:

Oh yes. You would have to say, and Mr Beazley would consider himself the favourite for the next Federal election. And so we go into the next Federal election with the determination to work hard on the local issues that concern the people.

CAFAGNA:

Peter Reith has announced that he wont be standing at the next election. Have you considered what youll be doing if there is a Liberal loss?

TREASURER:

Well, I am standing at the next election and Ill be working hard to talk about the local issues for the people in my electorate and working hard for good government in Australia.

CAFAGNA:

So youre in politics for the long term?

TREASURER:

Im in politics for the next election, Im running hard and I intend to see out that term and we take every election as they come.

CAFAGNA:

Now, John Howard has said that he will leave the stage if the Liberals lose Government, so presumably you will be a candidate for Leader of the Opposition?

TREASURER:

Well, there are a fair few assumptions there.

CAFAGNA:

John Howard has said he wont stick around if you lose at the next Federal election.

TREASURER:

The assumption there that you make is that we are going to lose the next election.

CAFAGNA:

But you said you are going in as underdogs.

TREASURER:

Of course we are going in as underdogs, but Im not thinking about losing it, Im going in as underdogs with the intention of trying to win it. For the sake of Australia. I dont want to see Australia go back to 17 per cent interest rates, that was the last time the Labor Party held Aston. I said we would go in as an underdog, but Im going in to try and win, of course we are.

CAFAGNA:

John Howard has told us his position if he loses. What will be your position if you lose?

TREASURER:

Well, Im going into the election to try and win.

CAFAGNA:

So you wont say whether youll want to be Leader of the Opposition?

TREASURER:

I would rather be a Treasurer in a Government which is the focus Ive got on the election.

CAFAGNA:

Do you think the position is helped in Victoria by the strong position of the State Government, that is Steve Bracks, and the low rating of Denis Napthine?

TREASURER:

Well, Mr Bracks has had a bit of a charmed run. He came to office with a Budget which had been thoroughly repaired by Jeff Kennett, which he proceeded to spend. But, I think you will see he will get into trouble in a year or twos time, at the rate of which he is spending the legacy of the Kennett Government. He cant live off the Kennett Government forever. You cant ignore (inaudible) but I think that as time goes by, hell find that he will have to make a decision pretty soon. So hes had a charmed run and you can see that reflected in the polls. But Im sure that charmed run will start coming to an end as soon as he has to make a decision, which must be coming up shortly.

CAFAGNA:

Just finally, do you think Peter Reith would make a good State Premier in Victoria?

TREASURER:

Well, I have a very high opinion of Peter Reith. I think he has been a great MP, and he has said he doesnt want to go into State politics, so that is really the end of it. But Im sure that whatever capacity Peter seeks to serve he will be very good at it.

CAFAGNA:

Would he be a good State Premier?

TREASURER:

Well, he said he doesnt want to be one. But as I say whatever he wanted to do Im sure hed be a great success.

CAFAGNA:

Mr Costello, thank you for your time.

TREASURER:

Thanks.