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 11/03/2005

Doorstop Interview

M2006 Headquarters
World Trade Centre, Melbourne

Friday, 11 March 2005
10.30 am

 

SUBJECTS: Commonwealth Games M2006 coin launch, tax cuts, Telstra

JOURNALIST:

This coin is a true collectors’ item Treasurer, good value for money?

TREASURER:

Excellent value for money, it is actual legal tender, $5, you can walk into any store and spend it but it will be selling for a lot more than that. It will have a face charge and in years to come it will appreciate in value and this is the kind of investment that if you are a collector you might want to make, or if you have got a baby being born you might want to keep a few of them for when they grow up?

JOURNALIST:

How do people get a hold of them? How much will they cost?

TREASURER:

They are going to be selling, I think, for $68.50 and the Mint will be making them available through its distributions.

JOURNALIST:

What about they have announced the first two baton runners, Cathy Freeman and Elle Macpherson, what do you think of Elle Macpherson being appointed?

TREASURER:

Well as I said, I think she will be a far more attractive runner than me and I think she will be a great ambassador. Cathy Freeman is internationally acclaimed as an athlete, Elle Macpherson has been somebody who has excelled in the fashion world who has made Australia well known throughout the world and I expect with Elle and Cathy that there will be huge international coverage. And it is very important for us that we get this international coverage so that we can get Melbourne on the map and so that we can get these Games on the map and not just here in Australia, we have got to get coverage in Britain and around the world for people that want to come and share in these Games because it is the crowd and the enthusiasm that is going to make these, I hope, the best Commonwealth Games we have ever seen.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer will you give us tax cuts so that we can afford to go to the Games?

TREASURER:

Yes, we are cutting taxes again on 1 July 2005 as announced in last year’s Budget and that will enable those particularly, who are fronting up against high marginal rates to get relief by the raising of thresholds.

JOURNALIST:

Ziggy Switkowski said in the paper today that Tesltra services in the bush are now world class or the best in the world, does that strengthen your case for 100 per cent sale?

TREASURER:

Well I think by international standards Australian services in rural and remote areas are very strong, by international standards. I think, you go and look at other countries, you look at Canada or the United States or other countries, which have vast areas, the Australian services particularly, in coverage for mobile phone, far beyond what comparable countries do and this indicates that the Government has been successful in improving services in the bush and there is no reason why we can’t keep those services strong with Telstra being owned by private shareholders. There is no reason why you can’t keep those services strong with private shareholders in Telstra.

JOURNALIST:

Is the public going to back that?

TREASURER:

Well look, the fact of the matter is, 49 per cent is already in private hands, during the period that those shares have been in private hands services have improved and I would say to people there is no reason to think that the Government can provide better services than the private sector. In practically any other area people would assume that the private sector could do better than the Government and there is no reason why the private sector can’t do telecommunications as well as the Government, and in nearly every other country of the world the private sector does provide the telecommunications, it is done in the United States, it is done in Britain, nearly every other developed country of the world has private sector provision of telecommunications.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, do you support allowing greater foreign ownership of Telstra?

TREASURER:

Well the Government’s policy is to restrict foreign ownership of Telstra so that Telstra stays in Australian hands and I do not support changing that. I believe that Telstra should have majority Australian ownership.

JOURNALIST:

What about the sell off of Telstra, do you see any merit in it being done over the net like they did with Google or bypassing the merchant, the investment banks and the share breakers, do you see any merit in that?

TREASURER:

If you could get as good a price, I see a lot of merit in that, yes. If you could get the right price without paying large fees, there is a lot of merit in it and I have asked that some scoping work be done to see whether it is possible to get the proper price, the proper return for taxpayers without the intermediaries. Now, if the answer comes back and says you are better to pay fees to the intermediaries because you will get a higher price and it is financially worth it so be it. But I want to test that proposition very much so and if we could get a good price and a good return for taxpayers without the intermediaries we ought to do that.

JOURNALIST:

It will (inaudible) the float though, that is what you are paying for, isn’t it?

TREASURER:

Thank you all very much for your time.