11 March 1996 - 3 December 2007
THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
776 Parramatta Road
Wednesday, 15 September 2004
SUBJECTS: Latham and the Economy. Good Luck!; Labor's schools hit-list
Managing the $800 billion Australian economy is a serious business and if you get it wrong, people's mortgages are at risk, their businesses suffer and ultimately they lose their jobs. In this election people have got to think very carefully about who is best qualified to manage the $800 billion Australian economy, whether it is a Government which has got inflation down, paid off $73 billion worth of Labor debt, presided over the addition of 1.3 million jobs and kept interest rates low, or whether it is Mr Latham who has still got his learner plates on – his 'L' plates. He doesn't have the experience to manage this economy and people's mortgages, people's jobs and people's businesses will be affected if the economy is mismanaged.
Now even Bob Hawke yesterday made the point on national television that Mr Latham will have to learn on the job. Learning on the job is not good enough when you are managing an $800 billion economy. What the Australian public needs is it needs proven economic experience. It needs the record that the Government has shown and it can't risk Mark Latham.
So, today we are unveiling a billboard which asks Australians to think very carefully about who is the best economic manager for their mortgage, their job and their business; the proven team with the proven record, or the 'L' plate driver who is still learning on the job. So I am now going to unveil this billboard.
Are there any questions?
Are you able to just start by, for those of us in radio, just by reading it out for us Treasurer.
Well, managing an $800 billion economy takes experience and it takes skill and it takes consistent economic policy. You have got an 'L' plate driver like Mark Latham who wants to learn on the job, we say, good luck! Good luck to the many Australians whose mortgages, whose businesses and whose jobs will be at risk and that is why Mr Latham has got his 'L' plates on.
Can you do the same thing for TV?
What, like that? Oh, OK. Well, managing the $800 billion Australian economy takes dedication, skill, experience and consistent policy. You have got a proven team which has got a record on the board, or you have got Mr Latham who has still got his 'L' plates on. He wants to learn on the job. Under Mr Latham and his economic management, it would be good luck to you on your mortgage, good luck in relation to your job, good luck in relation to your employment prospects. This is somebody who doesn't have the experience, who is still on his 'L' plates and who the rest of Australia is going to be relying upon if he ever gets to be the Prime Minister of the country.
And yet, quite a few economic analysts have actually come out now and said look, you know, one of the Coalition's claims, which is, interest rates will go up under a Latham Government is not necessarily the case, that it actually, they don't think that there would be that much difference.
Well look at the record. Under this Government over the last eight and a half years interest rates have averaged around 7 per cent. Under 13 years of Labor Government they averaged 12 ¾ per cent – there is the record. Now if interest rates were to go up 2 per cent say, let alone back to the Labor average of 12 ¾ per cent, there are going to be hundreds of thousands, millions of Australians who are going to be put under financial pressure. Now, what experience does Mark Latham have on economic policy? His last gig out was as Mayor of the Liverpool Council.
But surely interest rate cycles have to do with the economy, with general economic conditions as much as actual policy that has been put in place, I mean…
But a Treasurer and a Government are responsible for managing general economic conditions, you are responsible…
…I am sorry, I should have said world.
…well, you are responsible in relation to Budgets, you are responsible in relation to the taxation system, you are responsible in relation to productivity, you are responsible in relation to business taxation. All of these things affect the economy and they determine the prospects of Australians. Now, you can have proven economic management or you can have an 'L' plate driver.
Could we see these economic issues nutted out in another debate?
Well, I am debating the economy every day and I am going to keep on doing it until we get to Election Day.
What about the education policy that the, that Latham announced yesterday? Do you have any response to that?
Well I think that it is a poorly thought out education policy, you know, Mr Latham has got a hit-list of schools which he has announced now, but that is not the end of it, this is just the thin edge of the wedge. You take from some schools today, you get elected, you can take from some more tomorrow, we know that this is just the hit-list that has been announced today. There is another category of schools which he says are guaranteed, guaranteed for a year or two and then what happens to them? They could come onto the hit-list. And let's suppose they come onto the hit-list, what could happen to other independent schools? They could be added to the hit-list. Parents have got to understand, this hit-list of schools, when a government goes out to try and punish particular schools, once a government gets rolling, it can keep on moving. OK, thanks very much.