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 18/07/2003

 

TRANSCRIPT
THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Doorstop
4 Treasury Place, Melbourne

Friday, 18 July 2003
12.15 pm

SUBJECTS: Graeme Samuel

TREASURER:

Well I welcome the fact that the South Australian Government supports Graeme Samuel as the Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. With the support of five Labor States and Territories and, of course, the support of Commonwealth Government, that means that he can be confirmed as the Chairman for the Commission. He is plainly the best person qualified for the role. He served on the National Competition Council for a number of years and discharged his duties with great gusto. He was, of course, also very closely associated with the development of competition policy in the country and I believe that he will make a very good contribution to it, and the fact that he now enjoys the support of the majority of the States and Territories as well as the Commonwealth means that he can be confirmed in that role.

JOURNALIST:

When will that formally happen?

TREASURER:

Well, as soon as possible. He is acting in the role at the moment and discharging all of the duties, so it's just a question of formally confirming him as a permanent appointment and there will be a few legal procedures to go through but he can continue to act in the meantime.

JOURNALIST:

Will that be a five-year term?

TREASURER:

It will be the full statutory term yes, which I believe is five years.

JOURNALIST:

Have you been campaigning on his behalf, exerting pressure on the Premiers?

TREASURER:

Well I believe that Graeme Samuel is the most qualified person for the job, and I think most of the people who looked at it with an open mind were also of that view. Now, the interesting thing about this drawn out process, and it has been quite drawn out, is that during the whole of the process no other candidate with superior qualifications was recommended. And I think that was very telling. And in all of my discussions, and I have spoken to all of the Premiers and Chief Ministers in relation to this, in all of my discussions nobody suggested a more qualified person for the job. And now that five of the States have formally indicated that they are in favour he can be confirmed in that job.

JOURNALIST:

What would you say to Peter Beattie who as late as this morning was saying that Graeme Samuel is not the right man for the job?

TREASURER:

Well Peter Beattie is in the fine tradition of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, who thinks that he can get votes by opposing everything that everybody else in Australia does, and good luck to him. But at the end of the day, I wouldn't think Peter Beattie was thinking about the best interests of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

JOURNALIST:

Mark Latham says this is a `Clayton's appointment', the government is intent on winding back competition in the private sector. What do you say to that?

TREASURER:

Graeme Samuel is the most qualified person for the job. He has the support of five Labor states, he was actually endorsed by Professor Allan Fels as the most competent and suitable person to chair the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and as somebody who has been responsible for it and as the Commonwealth funds it, he also enjoys the support of the Commonwealth, which to me shows that he has pretty wide support.

JOURNALIST:

What do you say to those States who continue to oppose the appointment of Graeme Samuel?

TREASURER:

Well I am not sure which States oppose the appointment of Mr Samuel. Some of them privately support him. Premier Bob Carr has been telling people that he does support Mr Samuel, he just believes that he is a man of high character. So, for whatever reason, some of the States have privately expressed support but publicly won't say so. But at the end of the day, there is no other candidate, and we have now allowed I think, twelve to eighteen months for the nomination of other candidates, no other candidate was nominated who had the credentials of Graeme Samuel. And that is why he was supported by me, by the Commonwealth Government, by Professor Fels, and now five Labor States and Territories which, to me, indicates a very wide-reaching support, support across the political spectrum, and support from the people who actually have administered competition policy in the past, like Professor Fels.

JOURNALIST:

Would you expect him to have a different style to Professor Fels, conduct his affairs in the courts rather than the media?

TREASURER:

Well I think it is important that where the law is broken that the proceedings are brought in the courts. What we ask, is we ask that the law be enforced without fear or favour. This is not a publicity job. This is a job of enforcement. There are educational roles, but we ought to remember that this is a job of enforcement, of making Australia more competitive and Graeme Samuel has the capability to do that. Thanks.