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 23/09/2001

TRANSCRIPT
of
HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Doorstop
Jewish Community Solidarity Rally
Caulfield Park, Melbourne
Sunday, 23 September 2001
11.40 am


SUBJECTS:
Defence Spending, Airline Insurance, Ansett Airlines

JOURNALIST:

Ill start on Australias involvement in the US, how were going to fund our defence involvement. I mean, how are you envisaging that we do that?

TREASURER:

Well the Australian Government has made it clear that under the ANZUS Alliance an attack on the United States is considered an attack on Australia. And we have the obligation to come to mutual defence. The Australian Government has made it clear that it will be responding to American requests for assistance when they are made. And that will be part of an international response to terrorism and our defence forces stand ready to meet that challenge and they will make a contribution along with all of the nations of the world that want to take a strong stand against terrorism.

JOURNALIST:

I imagine though it would be quite costly, Im just wondering how we are looking at paying for it?

TREASURER:

Well we maintain a very large defence force out of our Budget - billions and billions of dollars. Theyre highly trained and skilled. And theyre highly trained and skilled for the circumstances like this.

JOURNALIST:

Would you look at a levy like we did with Timor?

TREASURER:

We already have a defence Budget which fully funds the Australian Defence Forces. It fully funds the way in which theyre trained and deployed for acts of war, acts of terrorism. Thats why we have a defence force.

JOURNALIST:

So you rule out any kind of levy to fund it?

TREASURER:

Well weve funded the Australian Defence Force. We funded it in last years Budget, as part of a White Paper. We in fact indicated that wed be building up our defence forces and its proven I think to be a very good decision that we indicated last year as part of our White Paper that we would be building Australias defence forces. We allocated additional funds over a 10 year period in this Budget. And as part of the White Paper defence, the Australian Defence Force has been built up to a level which is required but its a level which will be significantly in excess of previous force capacity.

JOURNALIST:

Will there be additional funding made for airline security in the Budget?

TREASURER:

Look there are two issues in relation to airline security. The first is of course airline security itself, and this is a matter for airlines and we are discussing it with the airlines as a Government. But in addition to that there is the question of insurance. International aviation underwriters have indicated that they are going to limit under their insurance policies their liability where airlines are involved in crashes or damage to third party or property like you saw in the World Trade Centre. This will require a co-ordinated international response. The Australian Government has been asked to help in relation to its own airlines. We have indicated that we will be making available assistance to keep those airlines in the sky but I would make it clear that I think there is going to have to be a co-ordinated global response in relation to this. Especially in relation to limiting liability.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello, you say that our defence force is fully funded and will increase over the next 10 years or so but in light of the extraordinary events of September 11, and us invoking the ANZUS Treaty might more funds be made available if required?

TREASURER:

The Australian Defence Force is fully funded in relation to its strike capabilities, with a build-up which was agreed last year and funded in this years Budget. So we have now put in place a capacity to rebuild our defence forces. We anticipated in the wake of East Timor that there would be more demands on the Australian defence forces. We had a White Paper. We decided to increase funding over a 10 year period. We funded it in this years Budget. We have the capacity to build it up. We have the capacity to deliver it. It was a decision that we thought would become necessary and unfortunately I think the events have proven we were right. Nobody would want these kind of events but when you are building defence forces youve got to be prepared for all eventualities including, we will find ourselves involved in the international fight against terrorism and the Australian troops I believe will deploy themselves in the capacity in which they are asked to with great distinction.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello, just on Ansett, are you glad to see Qantas will have 10 of the planes up in the air on Tuesday?

TREASURER:

I think its a good thing to get those planes up in the air. The Government wants to make sure that, first of all regional centres are properly serviced and we are now getting good coverage in relation to regional centres, nearly all of them. Secondly that we restore capacity on major trunk routes. Qantas is now making sure that its got additional capacity through bringing planes back, through also leasing of Ansett planes. And thirdly with new entrants that may be putting together bids to try and resume some of those Ansett services. Thats a matter for the Administrator. But we would welcome any moves to get those trunk routes up and going as soon as possible.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think that the regional airlines, quite a few of them are flying now, its a good sign and that we might be on our way out of this mess?

TREASURER:

Well weve now got full, we are working towards full coverage in relation to regional routes. Weve now got good coverage. The Government stands ready, willing and able to encourage full coverage. Well take the steps that can help that occur.

Thanks very much.