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Peter Costello

Treasurer

11 March 1996 - 3 December 2007

Transcript of 20/09/2004

TRANSCRIPT

THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
TREASURER

Interview with Steve Liebmann
Today Show

Monday, 20 September 2004
7.10 am

 

SUBJECTS: Liverpool Council

LIEBMANN:

Joining us now from our studios in Adelaide is Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello. I bring you greetings from Québec City in Canada. Good morning to you.

TREASURER:

Good to be with you Steve.

LIEBMANN:

It looks like the Coalition's campaign is about to get dirty and personal. Don't you think the electorate wants more than that these days?

TREASURER:

Oh Steve it is very important to look at the record of somebody who wants to become Prime Minister of the country. Now Mr Latham has never been a Minister, he has never had a full-time job in the private sector, the only thing that he has ever run was the Liverpool Council, which as you know has now been suspended in New South Wales. So if you want to look at Mr Latham's financial credentials, the only experience he has got in managing anything is the Liverpool Council. And this is a matter of political record, very, very important to know whether or not he has the ability to run an $800 billion economy.

LIEBMANN:

But Treasurer the reality is, that happened a decade ago. He has moved on, so has everybody else.

TREASURER:

Well you see, the thing about Mr Latham is, over the last decade he has championed probably every economic fad that was going. He had an idea for a progressive expenditure tax, then he had an idea for a Tobin tax, he has flirted with negative gearing, he has flirted with every fad that has been going. There is no stability to his economic ideas and so if you want to get an idea of what he would be like in Government, you have got to look at the only thing he has ever run. The only thing he has ever run was the Liverpool Council. Now these are the facts. They are political facts. They are on the record.

LIEBMANN:

But an independent investigator looked at what you called the facts and found that there had been no improper financial mismanagement on his part during his tenure as Mayor of Liverpool. Are you saying the independent investigator got it wrong?

TREASURER:

Well what the committee found was that he ran up a deficit in the Council. He said that after he had run up the deficit he had a plan to actually get some savings to pay for it. The savings never materialised, the deficit did, the Council was left in a strapped financial position. We have now had, I think, five ex-Mayors or Deputy Mayors that have come out who actually knew what Mr Latham's management skills were like, have actually come out and have actually made statements in relation to this. You know, it is no accident that all these Mayors and these Deputy Mayors have come out and made a statement. They are the people that know his credentials, they have worked with him, they have a very distinct view. Now what worries me is he is making all these promises. If he gets elected, he says, I will be able to afford them because somebody will find the savings after the event. You could have a repeat of the Liverpool Council only this time it is going to be in relation to an $800 billion economy.

LIEBMANN:

Mark Latham is saying that these are dishonest claims from a Coalition that is pre-occupied with the past and has got absolutely no vision for the future.

TREASURER:

Well this is a Coalition which is very happy to be judged on its record. We will put our record for financial management up against his record any day. We have balanced the Budget, we have repaid $73 billion worth of debt, 1.3 million new jobs have been created in Australia. If you want an indicator as to financial management credentials you can compare our record on the Australian economy against his on the Liverpool Council.

LIEBMANN:

Just quickly on another point, what about the preference deal between the Greens and Labor? That's going to hurt isn't it? And are you now factoring in the possibility of a hung Parliament?

TREASURER:

Well if enough people vote for Labor you could get a hung Parliament. You could get a hung Parliament with the Greens having a very distinct influence. I think it was Lindsay Tanner who said that, he is the Member for Melbourne, the Labor Member for Melbourne, he said that if there were a hung Parliament then Labor would be forced to implement some of the wacky ideas of the Greens and that is a very big risk.

LIEBMANN:

Okay. Treasurer I have to leave it there, it sounds like our ship is about to pull out from Port. Thanks for your time.

TREASURER:

You had better catch it. You had better catch that ship Steve.

LIEBMANN:

I will bring you home a maple leaf. Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello.