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 26/07/2004

TRANSCRIPT
THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Doorstop Interview
Bair Street, Leongatha

Monday, 26 July 2004
12 noon

 

SUBJECTS: McMillan, telecommunications, dairy industry, family payments, Prime Minister’s birthday

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)?

TREASURER:

(inaudible) today, meeting locals and talking to community representatives and supporting Russell Broadbent, the Liberal candidate for McMillan. Obviously some of the issues that we have been discussing relate to small business, community support. The Government today has announced the signing up of DCS to provide internet services in regional Victoria as part of a concerted move to improve access to telecommunications and I am very pleased to be here today, the day of that announcement. But it is great to be out here in this wonderfully wet weather, campaigning and supporting my very good friend.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) particular region, what are you seeing as the issues, you have had a few folk talk to you already?

TREASURER:

A few folk have spoken to me already about the dairy industry, obviously that is a big issue, small business, a lot of interest in interest rates and what could happen if interest rates go up if there is a change of government and a lot of interest I think in community services in this area and encouraging community services, so we are getting some great feedback with some of the locals.

JOURNALIST:

Is this seat a bit of a worry for you in this election considering the electoral boundary changes and now that it is a marginal seat?

TREASURER:

Well, it is currently held by the Labor Party and the boundaries have changed, and the Government will be working hard to support Russell Broadbent who is running for election in this area. Russell wants to win the trust and the confidence of the people of McMillan, and it will be a hard fight, yes it will be. It is a very marginal seat this one, but I am confident that with the work that he is doing on the ground and the connections that he has with local people that Russell is making a very good campaign.

JOURNALIST:

So what are you offering to, I suppose, the dairy farmers first of all?

TREASURER:

Well, the Government has put in place a $2 billion package, the dairy industry adjustment package, which is there to support the dairy industry during the period of state based de-regulation. And we have put together regional assistance programs which have been helping local businesses here with other employment opportunities. So, we have a very active program of regional assistance to ensure that there is that adjustment for areas that need adjustment from an economic point of view, and with on-going policy, what we want to do of course is support all businesses with low interest rates, low taxes, strong consumer sentiment and profitability.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) the difference in prices between (inaudible) supermarket shelf?

TREASURER:

Well, as I said, we have got a $2 billion adjustment package which can support those farmers that need assistance with adjustment and rural assistance programs to help with other industries where they are needed to actually increase employment opportunities. But as I have been travelling through the electorate, employment opportunities have increased considerably under the Government’s economic management in recent years, and I don’t want to see that put at risk. If you had a change of government and interest rates go up again, remember they were at 17 per cent the last time the Labor Party was in office. All of that could be put at risk.

JOURNALIST:

And that obviously goes onto small business?

TREASURER:

Absolutely. Overdraft interest rates under the last Labor Government were at 22 per cent and that make things incredibly difficult for small business, so we have got to keep interest rates low, the economy strong to help small business create jobs.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) talking about an increase in (inaudible) campaign (inaudible) for quite some time now, I know it says (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Well, what we have done is we have set aside a fund which is over $100 million, and we have announced today that the provider DCS will be entitled to access that fund to supply internet and broadband to Gippsland and Eastern Victoria, so it will apply to those areas and it is a question of the company rolling out (inaudible) funding which the Federal Government has set aside for it.

JOURNALIST:

And there has also been some (inaudible) for families?

TREASURER:

Yes, in fact one of the people that came across and spoke to me as we were having a coffee was a father of four, who lives in the area, and under the Government’s most recent Budget, we announced the $600 payment in respect of each child for qualifying families, which for that family was $2,400, and that annual payment of an additional $600 per child will continue and be paid annually under our Government and we have also announced that if there is anyone that fell through the cracks, we would be picking them up as well through the Centrelink process.

JOURNALIST:

Now, it is Prime Minister Howard’s birthday today, any birthday wishes?

TREASURER:

Have a happy birthday and I hope he has the opportunity to spend the night with his family, because when you are involved in public life you are away a lot and the thing you look forward to the most is a night at home. So, a night at home with warming refreshments is what I would wish for him for his birthday.

JOURNALIST:

And does this mean that you will (inaudible) leadership?

TREASURER:

Well, I am obviously running for re-election as the Deputy Leader of the Party and in my own seat, and if I get the opportunity to serve in the Government I would be very happy to continue to serve as Treasurer.

JOURNALIST:

And just one final question…

TREASURER:

One final question.

JOURNALIST:

…Mr Latham’s appearance today on Kerri-Anne Kennerly, do you think, you know, did you do a better job? I think he was making curry, you were a bit more adventurous with the (inaudible).

TREASURER:

Well, I would say to Mark, after you have danced the Macarena and wrestled with pythons, you think that you can cope with practically anything that commercial television throws up, so I wish him a bit more experience on the dancing and the python front to add to his curriculum vitae.