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 11/04/2005

Treasurer

Doorstop Interview, Treasury Place, Melbourne

Monday, 11 April 2005
4.00 pm

SUBJECTS: Corporations Law; GST; Budget.

JOURNALIST:

The States are threatening to abandon the Agreement on Corporations Law. What’s your response to that?

TREASURER:

Well the latest proposal to go back to State based Corporations Law is truly a retrograde step. It would be turning back the clock 15 years. It would be a proposal to have instead of one corporate regulator in Australia, nine – nine separate corporate regulators – one for each of the States, one in each of the Territories and one nationally. It would mean that business would have to pay multiple sets of fees and it would add to complexity. Any proposal to turn back the clock 15 years would be disastrous for Australian business, and aside from all of that, the States agreed in November of last year to extend this Agreement to 2011. So it appears that they have forgotten that the Agreement has already been extended for another five years.

JOURNALIST:

It seems as though the States are certainly going back on their Agreements at the moment?

TREASURER:

Well the States agreed to extend the reference to 2011 in November of last year. They are now threatening to walk out of that Agreement and instead of having one national law, one national regulator, one national fee – nine laws, nine regulators, nine sets of fees. You would have more regulation of companies in Australia than you would have in the whole of Europe. It would be a 15 year return to the past – one of the silliest suggestions you have heard in a long time.

JOURNALIST:

Now they saying you are threatening to turn off the GST tap. Isn’t that, do you think it is just tit for tat?

TREASURER:

Oh no this is truly a very retrograde step for Australia – to go from one law, one regulator, one set of fees – nine laws, nine regulators, nine sets of fees – you would have easier single regulation across 15 countries in Europe than you would have across six States in Australia. And I think by the time they think about this quite carefully they will realise that Australia doesn’t have to go back to the dark ages.

JOURNALIST:

The States say the GST deal, though, commits them to reviewing further taxes not abolishing them. Is that right?

TREASURER:

Everybody knows when the GST was introduced it was introduced to abolish other taxes. Everybody knows that – everybody in Australia knows that – and the States know that. And they know that now that they receive the GST they have to abolish those other indirect taxes – they have to abolish them. This is why the GST was introduced and it shouldn’t be a painful thing for the States. They have got more revenue from the GST than was ever expected and now they should be in a position to abolish taxes and give people some relief. That is what the GST is for.

JOURNALIST:

What about if the States hold their line though? And there’s no agreement on the GST…

TREASURER:

Well the GST was introduced to abolish other taxes. You can not keep the GST and the other taxes – you have the GST or the other taxes. And that is why we need to abolish those other taxes.

JOURNALIST:

But then, what then if they don’t?

TREASURER:

Well we will see what happens because the public in Australia knows that the GST was introduced to abolish other taxes. And those other taxes have to be abolished.

JOURNALIST:

Just on another issue, there is speculation that the Government is going to change the Medicare Safety Net because it is too costly. Your response to that?

TREASURER:

Oh you get this kind of speculation all the time in the pre-Budget lead up – people will be publishing stories on a different basis. But we refuse to speculate on Budget matters, everything will be handed down in the Budget when the Budget is delivered.

JOURNALIST:

So it’s not true.

TREASURER:

As I said. Thank you.