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 13/05/2005

Doorstop Interview

Following the Higgins 200 Club Post-Budget Breakfast
Crown Casino

Friday, 13 May 2005
9.00 am

SUBJECTS: Budget, Telstra

JOURNALIST:

You spoke about the welfare reform as being necessary because of the potential labour shortage in twenty years with the ageing population, is that a strategy to make the pensioners feel needed and wanted rather than the changes being a form of punishment?

TREASURER:

Well the changes that we are introducing are designed to encourage people to participate in the workforce. If you participate in the workforce you get a higher income, you are part of the economic mainstream, and you are contributing to the overall economic development and that is a good thing for people, it is a good thing for society. The more people we have in work, the lower our taxes can be for the whole of the workforce because we spread the burden further. So this is all about opportunity, participation, new services and building a stronger economy.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello, do you think it is absurd the ALP has protested against income tax cuts?

TREASURER:

The Government has announced the plan to cut tax on 1 July 2005. Labor is going to vote against tax cuts, that is because Labor stands for higher taxes. But it will not work you see, because after 30th of June, the composition of the Senate will change, so the tax cuts will go through eventually. The only thing Labor can do is delay them, so they are taking this big stand for higher taxes in a futile effort to try and delay tax cuts which ought to be taking place on 1 July.

JOURNALIST:

Is there a chance you could recall the Parliament early to get those cuts?

TREASURER:

I am not ruling things in, or ruling things out, because we have not had a vote yet. What I do is I call on the Labor Party to vote our tax cuts through. There is no reason why Labor should stop Australians from getting their tax cuts on 1 July 2005. Mr Beazley has miscalculated badly, very, very badly here, and Australians will not forget that Labor stood for higher taxes.

JOURNALIST:

But aren’t you concerned that Australians will see their tax policy as being more well targeted towards middle income brackets, doubling that $6 a week tax cut?

TREASURER:

The Labor Party does not have a tax policy. The Labor Party stands for one thing, higher taxes.

JOURNALIST:

If Telstra is sold, should the proceeds go to regional telecommunications as the logical first option, if needed.

TREASURER:

Well, the important thing is to get through legislation which would enable us to resolve the status of Telstra. It has been caught in this half-way house, half-private, half-public now for years. We have to pass legislation to resolve that, that is the first thing that we will do, rather than speculate on where the proceeds will go.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello, how is your relationship with Mr Howard at the moment?

TREASURER:

Very good.

JOURNALIST:

And will you be here this time next year?

TRESURER:

You don’t worry about me. Don’t worry about me I will always be working for the Australian public. We now have to work to get this Budget through. The fact that we brought down the Budget is just the opening step. The important thing is to get it through, and as we now know the Labor Party will try and defeat it, and from now until the 30th of June, I will be working every single hour to try and get this Budget through. And it has to be got through by the 30th June, that is the deadline, and I call on the Labor Party to pass it. Thank you.