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 04/02/2005

Interview with 6PR
Friday, 4 February 2005
7.35 am

SUBJECTS: The Ashes, family tax benefit, West Australian election, retail trading hours, apprenticeships

JOURNALIST:

Welcome.

TREASURER:

Good to be with Millsy, Tony, great to be here.

JOURNALIST:

And it is nice of you to join us so early in the morning. Are you an early morning person?

TREASURER:

Yes I am. Particularly if I am on Eastern time, it helps you get up much earlier in the West.

JOURNALIST:

Now you hit the front page of the paper this morning, you only arrived last night, and that was in relation to the Ashes, ‘Drop news for Ashes, Costello urges ABC.’ You are obviously a great cricket lover.

TREASURER:

Well I reckon the Ashes is one of the great sporting spectacles and I can remember as a kid lying in bed listening to the radio and I can remember, actually the one that really sticks in my mind which was televised was of the 1972 Ashes tour, Bob Massie…

JOURNALIST:

Yeah.

TREASURER:

…Dennis Lilley, and it was a great sporting event to watch and it would be great if the Australian free-to-airs did cover the Ashes and I for one would be watching it.

JOURNALIST:

You can’t force the ABC…

TREASURER:

No, no. The free-to-airs have the right to negotiate and pick up the rights and it is a matter for them including the ABC. If they have other priorities, well we won’t get the Ashes.

JOURNALIST:

Can I put this to you, just before the election you very generously gave out a lump sum payment to all families, which we have spoken about it before, we obviously pooled it altogether and we bought a greyhound, we called her ‘lump sum’ which is a very…

TREASURER:

How is it going?

JOURNALIST:

…it is going well…

TREASURER:

It’s going alright.

JOURNALIST:

…going really well.

TREASURER:

Because that lump sum was $600, what did you buy the greyhound for?

JOURNALIST:

Well I have got four kids, so it goes alright. But what I want to put to you, now you can really boost your popularity, Tony and myself, we have thought about it for you, we can position you on the basis that, if you were to put out a lump sum payment, if you can’t afford Foxtel, maybe you could put out a Foxtel…

JOURNALIST:

Yes this is the one.

JOURNALIST:

…lump payment for anyone that wants to watch the Ashes.

TREASURER:

What does Foxtel cost?

JOURNALIST:

Basic package, $49.

TREASURER:

$49 a month?

JOURNALIST:

$49 a month.

JOURNALIST:

Even if you said, okay, we will do a deal with Foxtel, we will put the connection on for you and we will pay for it, well the Ashes go for about four months and then you have got the finals of the footy, so let’s say 6 months, a lump sum. It could be the Foxtel package.

JOURNALIST:

Mate this would make you, if you were ever elected Prime Minister you would never get rolled.

JOURNALIST:

That’s right.

TREASURER:

I have got to say, here is your children’s inheritance, right, to look after the baby bassinette, look after the baby booties and it has gone on a greyhound.

JOURNALIST:

Yeah, well you look at (inaudible), it worked for him. But you haven’t answered the question, are you going to…

TREASURER:

Has the greyhound made any money?

JOURNALIST:

Not yet. Are you going to commit yourself to the Foxtel, you have got to answer the question.

TREASURER:

I don’t think so.

JOURNALIST:

No merit in it?

TREASURER:

No, I think it would be better if we could get it on free-to-air TV and if it went on free-to-air we could all save our money.

JOURNALIST:

Well what about allowing us to claim it as a deduction?

TREASURER:

Foxtel?

JOURNALIST:

Yes, in relation to the Ashes.

TREASURER:

Could you talk to the Commissioner, that would be helpful. I will tell you what, I will ask the Commissioner to come down and do an interview with you.

JOURNALIST:

Now, no-one loves small business...

TREASURER:

He didn’t take that off, that off…

JOURNALIST:

…no that is alright, we will replay the tape. Eddie, have you heard of Eddie? Eddie (inaudible)

TREASURER:

Oh Eddie!

JOURNALIST:

Eddie, yes. Good morning Eddie. He is the proprietor of Ma’s Family Bakery and he said, ‘I make the best pies.’

TREASURER:

Is that right?

JOURNALIST:

And I said, ‘I have got the Treasurer coming in tomorrow,’ and he said, ‘well if I could get the Treasurer to help us out, I need a boost-along, I am struggling a bit,’ and then he went over the impact of the GST and I said, I am sure, I am sure that the Treasurer would have a bite with you, have a bite of Eddie’s pie.

TREASURER:

Yeah, okay, sure, what have we got?

JOURNALIST:

We have got hearty beef with gravy…

JOURNALIST:

Now hang on, we all have to have one each I would have thought…

TREASURER:

Yeah, I am not going to do it if you guys aren’t.

JOURNALIST:

If the Treasurer goes, we all go, you know what I am saying?

JOURNALIST:

Alright. Well there is mushroom and another one which has got secret ingredients.

TREASURER:

I will go for the mushroom.

JOURNALIST:

Alright, there you go.

TREASURER:

Do you have a (inaudible) taster here?

JOURNALIST:

No we are alright.

JOURNALIST:

Well what am I eating?

TREASURER:

Have we got some sauce?

JOURNALIST:

No, go that one, that would be more your style, it has got spinach on it. I will go the meat pie.

JOURNALIST:

Away you go son.

JOURNALIST:

Are you ready Treasurer? Here we go.

JOURNALIST:

How are we going to count it in here?

TREASURER:

(inaudible).

JOURNALIST:

No you are right, you can talk. Millsy can actually eat and talk at the same time. Now, what do you think?

TREASURER:

Not too bad, (inaudible) you can tell Eddie. We need some sauce I think.

JOURNALIST:

Yeah we do need sauce.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) a pot.

TREASURER:

(inaudible) pie.

JOURNALIST:

Hot food, because it is processed.

TREASURER:

Not on basic foods, but on hot foods.

JOURNALIST:

So Eddie out there, give him the slogan for the pie, you are getting into it. What is the (inaudible).

TREASURER:

Well, give me Eddie’s card. If you want to have a great mushroom pie, get down to see Eddie (inaudible) in Hutton Street, Osborne Park.

JOURNALIST:

And tell him Peter sent you.

JOURNALIST:

Well done.

JOURNALIST:

Beautifully done indeed. A couple of very quick things if I may. The other big thing on the agenda, oh he is having another bite of the pie now so he may not get around to this answer, the extended trading here in WA is going to be a big issue with this forthcoming state election. What do you think has been the impact around Australia for it, why would be people be fearful of it or why should they embrace it?

TREASURER:

Well it is a matter for individuals to make up their own minds, but on the East Coast in the major States there has been deregulation. The experience I think has been a good one. People have been able to get access to shopping if they are working on nights, they can get access at night after coming home from work, if you have got a need to get something on a Sunday you can get out and get it on a Sunday, it has led to a lot more work opportunities I think for young people, and I am sure that if you asked those that have experienced it they would say it has been a positive experience.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Gallop is running on an economic platform which you did very successfully in the Federal election where you said, we have kept interest rates down. And he has held his hand up to say that ‘we have run the economy really well and we have got low unemployment in the state, inflation is under control, we have got the highest growth levels,’ and things are looking pretty good in the State. Would you say that the State Government has done a good job in regards to managing the economy to help you achieve what you have achieved?

TREASURER:

Well look the big economic parameters are set by the Federal Government. State Governments are not responsible for interest rates or monetary policy, they don’t run the tax system, they have a lesser involvement in industrial relations, so the big key economic decisions are set at the national level. And we have had some success in relation to that and Australia as a whole is doing well. Now at the State level the States have principal responsibility for managing their own Budgets and for delivering services in hospitals and schools and that is where you should really judge a state government – managing its own Budget and the delivery of services. The big national economic issues are really not the province of any one particular state government but of course the federal government.

JOURNALIST:

But from a federal point of view you have always hung your hat on the fact that you could deliver a budget surplus. The state government has done that here for the last four years yet they are being criticised for the size of the surplus is too high, do you agree with that?

TREASURER:

Well look, I would say this, the main reason of course why the West Australian Government has been able to keep its Budget in surplus is the revenue that it has been getting from GST. We spoke about GST before. The State Governments receive every single dollar of GST revenue and Western Australia this financial year is going to get $3613 million plus a very large windfall. Now, that is not because Premier Gallop reformed the taxation system but the Federal Government reformed it and Western Australia has been a big winner so it has put them in a stronger position as a result. And that includes a windfall of $248 million this year over and above the West Australian entitlements so it has been a good time to be in State Government.

JOURNALIST:

Colin Barnett announced that he was going to build a canal from the top of the State right down to the bottom. He said it is going to take the requirements of the State Government, the Federal Government and also industry to get behind it. How much money are you going to put into this proposal if it does get up?

TREASURER:

Well, we have a thing called a National Water Initiative, it is a $2 billion fund and States can come forward with projects and WA would be eligible if it signs the water initiative to come forward with that project.

JOURNALIST:

There is no deal between the Opposition here in the State of WA and the Federal Government in regards to this project?

TREASURER:

No, there is no deal, no, no, but if the West Australian Government comes into the National Water Initiative, which is $2 billion, they could put forward projects including this one which would be assessed on their merits and be eligible for funding.

JOURNALIST:

Would it get up?

TREASURER:

Well let me say, that is $2 billion Australia wide, so the whole $2 billion wouldn’t come into WA, it would be shared around the States but they would be eligible to put this in for consideration.

JOURNALIST:

92211882, we will do this break, a very special guest with Millsy and Tony Mac this morning is the Treasurer Peter Costello, come and join us, 92211882, it is 8.14am.

Ad Break

JOURNALIST:

37 degrees, fine and hot before a humid change in the afternoon. Our special guest is the Treasurer, Mr Peter Costello, if you have a question 92211882, Allan is there, Allan at (inaudible), good morning and welcome, the Treasurer is listening.

CALLER:

Yes good morning all. Mr Costello if you would just explain to us in regards to this deregulation rule, with the referendum coming up here, I think everyone is in two minds as to what is happening, can you tell us how much we have lost by not joining, by not deregulating ours and how much we will gain by deregulation?

TREASURER:

Well you are probably asking about eligibility for competition payments. WA would be eligible for addition competition payments but the losses and the gains I think are better looked at in another way. They are looked at in terms of convenience and employment and I would say that is where the big opportunities would come. I am not here to campaign one way or the other in the referendum, I have my own views, I live in a State where we have had extended shopping hours and as someone who works irregular hours it has certainly suited me.

JOURNALIST:

Okay, thanks Allan for your question. Derek at (inaudible), good morning.

CALLER:

Good morning guys, good morning Peter, welcome to town.

TREASURER:

Thanks Derek.

CALLER:

I was just wondering, do you ever contemplate if you stayed with the Labor Party you would have already been Prime Minister?

TREASURER:

I wouldn’t want to disappoint Kim Beazley.

JOURNALIST:

Well let’s talk about the leadership, obviously that is an area where the Prime Minister, there has been a few predictions by a few clairvoyants that he may not be around for a while. Obviously the talk is that he wants to go out on a high, he can name his own date, you must be waiting in the wings, are you still eager for the job?

TREASURER:

Look, I have been Treasurer for, since 1996 and I have got to say to you it has been a great challenge and it is a very tough job and I am fully focused on that. If opportunities came up for other jobs of course you would look at it at the time but it is a question of whether opportunities come up.

JOURNALIST:

Do you get bored being the Treasurer?

TREASURER:

I don’t get bored because you know, it is an enormous job, it is the second most difficult job in the Government and the work load is absolutely intense. So you don’t get bored, you might get tired but you never get bored.

JOURNALIST:

Mark Latham’s demise through health, did, obviously that would have disappointed you. Would you have liked to have taken him on head to head rather than Mr Beazley?

TREASURER:

Well, we’ve taken Mr Beazley on head to head…

JOURNALIST:

No you personally thought…

TREASURER:

…in the Parliament Kim has been around the block on a number of occasions and we have also had the experience of Mr Latham. They are different people. Look, Mark Latham was a formidable opponent, he got sick and I wish him a full recovery but life moves on.

JOURNALIST:

Dianne come and join us at (inaudible), good morning Dianne.

CALLER:

Well done Peter, well done for putting the cricket and mentioning it that the ABC should put it on. We can’t afford to have Foxtel, my husband loves sport and he is a great supporter of Australian cricket. And also, I would like to congratulate you on doing a great job because I am Treasurer of our little family and I know in my little small way I know what it takes. I think…

TREASURER:

Well I know what you are talking about Dianne, you look at all the bills, they keep on coming in and you think to yourself, how are we going to pay those and at the Federal level the bills are the same they have just got, they usually just got nine noughts on the back of them and you try and say to yourself well how are we going to pay for that. Can I just say in relation to the Ashes, I think if the ABC were convinced that they could get good ratings, higher ratings, they might look at it very carefully and I would say to people that if we can convince them that there is a big audience that will switch on to the ABC, if they do the Ashes they might…

JOURNALIST:

So why don’t you re-visit the law then, the telecommunications law and have a real good look at it?

JOURNALIST:

Well there was a guarantee that major sporting events wouldn’t be lost.

TREASURER:

Well the law is, the law says that significant events have to be reserved to free-to-air and they still are. But that doesn’t mean that a free-to-air will actually come in and bid for them and take them. You have got to have somebody that is prepared to bid for them and take them. And people will take them if they are convinced that they will get ratings and so I would encourage the ABC to look at it again.

JOURNALIST:

Just re-visiting the canal, what do you think of the proposal?

TREASURER:

Look in a dry continent where we have limited water resources we have got to look at all options. I am not an expert on the canal I will tell you that now. But if somebody has put the option forward it should be assessed.

JOURNALIST:

But you are an economic manager, surely you would know whether it is viable or not. Small business today saying it could put the state in some kind of jeopardy.

TREASURER:

Well you would have to sit down and you would have to look at construction costs, you would have to look at the price of water, you would have to look at the alternatives, you would have to look at the economic benefits, I haven’t done that analysis.

JOURNALIST:

Have you got a name for it if it got up?

JOURNALIST:

Apart from the obvious one.

TREASURER:

Well we have the, what was it, the Panama Canal so perhaps it could be the Pilbera Canal.

JOURNALIST:

Pilbera Canal, nice contribution. You are a mad Bombers fan, (inaudible) big season, it is James Hird’s birthday today. Have the Bombers got any chance at all of getting in the eight this year.

JOURNALIST:

No.

TREASURER:

Wash your mouth out.

JOURNALIST:

Seriously.

JOURNALIST:

They are gone mate.

TREASURER:

I don’t think they are gone, we just need a few young fast mid-fielders. There is a bloke called Judd that might be available.

JOURNALIST:

No.

JOURNALIST:

Oh yeah so (inaudible) have take everything else form the state, you are not taking our footballers.

JOURNALIST:

Roselyn wants to have a word with you Mr Costello, good morning.

CALLER:

Good morning Mr Costello.

TREASURER:

Good morning.

CALLER:

I am just ringing up regarding the apprenticeship tool allowance, Mr Howard came on before the election saying that the kids would get it. I was told it is coming in in January and then I rang Canberra and they said, no it is coming in July, it is not going to be backdated. I would just like to know why?

TREASURER:

Well I will have to go back and have a look at the timing in relation to that announcement, I can assure that it is going to be done and it will be done in the way that we indicated but I am not quite sure of the timing, we haven’t gone back to Canberra this year yet, we are starting next week and I will have a look at it for you.

CALLER:

It is just that the majority of apprenticeships they start in January at the beginning of the year.

TREASURER:

Sure, okay…

CALLER:

And it is just such a great help to them.

TREASURER:

…well we will have a look, I can’t remember what the original timing was but we will stick to the original timing.

JOURNALIST:

Thanks for the call Roselyn. Just before you go an important question, will we get another lump sum in around about June or July?

TREASURER:

What another greyhound?

JOURNALIST:

Well I have got the sister and this is ready.

JOURNALIST:

She is ready to go.

TREASURER:

It is $600 every year.

JOURNALIST:

Every year.

TREASURER:

It is $600 per child, per year.

JOURNALIST:

Let’s breed Australia.

TREASURER:

And so in your case with the four kids, it is not bad.

JOURNALIST:

So when will that kick in, what date can I pick it up?

TREASURER:

When you put in your tax return.

JOURNALIST:

Any chance that I will be able to pay twice, (inaudible) a routine going this year?

TREASURER:

And make sure you put in your tax return this year too.

JOURNALIST:

Yeah he is not (inaudible).

JOURNALIST:

Alright, thanks for coming in Peter.

TREASURER:

It is a great pleasure to be here with you, thanks very much.