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 16/05/2005

Doorstop Interview

ABC Child Care Centre
290 Bracken Ridge Road
Bracken Ridge, Brisbane

Monday, 16 May 2005
10.40 am

SUBJECTS: Budget increase in child care places, Job Network, Labor’s opposition to tax cuts, industrial relations

TREASURER:

One of the main features of the Budget which we brought down on Tuesday night was an increase in child care places, an extra 84,000 outside school hours places, increased family day care, increased other child care places and of course long-day child care places like the centre here where parents will qualify for a child care rebate in respect of child care. Over the last two Budgets there has been a bigger build up in Australian history in child care places. That is to help parents that want to get into the workforce, with unemployment at 28 year lows, it is a better time than it has been for 28 years for parents to join the workforce. And a big part of the Budget is ensuring that those child care places are available, particularly for kids after school and outside school hours and ensuring that through the child care rebate and the child care benefit at long day care centres like the centre we are at today, parents have the opportunity to get quality child care whilst they are participating in work. Building the Australian economy will involve getting as many people as possible into the workforce and ensuring that they have adequate child care services to match that responsibility and that is why we are here today to look at some of the quality child care centres which are available today.

JOURNALIST:

How will the before and after places eventuate?

TREASURER:

Well, we announced another 84,000 in the Budget, they will be allocated between electorates, we are here in the wonderful electorate of Petrie today with Teresa Gambaro who told me I think, 850 places were allocated out of last years 40,000 build up. So, those 84,000 will be allocated around Australia in all of the areas and the regions and the capital cities to ensure that parents have opportunity to quality child care and can participate in the Australian workforce.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) parents?

TREASURER:

Pardon?

JOURNALIST:

It would be given to parents…

TREASURER:

The outside school hours is actually allocated at schools where the schools put on programmes before school and after school so that parents who are participating in the workforce can drop kids off on the way to work, the kids will be in school during the day, they can pick them up after work so that mum or dad who may be working a longer day than school hours, can be assured that the children are being looked after before school and after school.

JOURNALIST:

There was a report on AM this morning about cuts to the Jobs Network and Centrelink, why is that necessary with the Budget surplus as it is?

TREASURER:

Well, Job Network is a system where by private providers are paid money when they are able to match people for jobs. The number of jobs in Australia is greater than it has ever been before, ever, and the unemployment rate is lower than it has been for 28 years. So, if you are in the business of matching people into jobs, the business has been getting easier rather than harder and it is important that the taxpayer, who after all is paying for these services, gets the best value for money and in a buoyant labour market with more jobs available than ever before, you would expect that the costs of getting people into work would be lower rather than higher.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, Labor claims that you have the power to introduce tax cuts on July 1st whether they vote them down or not, do you agree with that?

TREASURER:

Let me make this point. On Tuesday night I announced a tax cut for every Australian. Before that tax cut can take effect, legislation has to pass the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Government doesn’t have a majority in the Senate so those tax cuts can only be legislated before 1 July if the Labor Party ceases its useless blocking activity.

JOURNALIST:

But on July 1 you can legislate and it has been done before where things have been introduced and then the legislation is passed later.

TREASURER:

Let me go through it. Every Australian can have a tax cut on 1 July if the Senate passes that legislation and Labor gives up its useless blocking activity designed to prevent Australians getting their tax cuts. If Labor continues to block those tax cuts, then the new Senate which does not convene until August, mid-August, I am sure, will pass those tax cuts. But this useless blocking activity will come to nothing. I say to the Labor Party, let Australians have their tax cuts and let them have it on 1 July.

JOURNALIST:

So you don’t agree you have got the power to introduce them on the 1st of July whether they vote them down or not?

TREASURER:

No, you can only cut tax if a law passes the House of Representatives and the Senate. Taxes are collected by law, laws are made by the House of Representatives and the Senate. If you can’t get that law through before the 1st of July, the tax cut will not be legislated by 1 July. That is why I say to Labor, give up this useless activity, trying to delay Australians their tax cuts. The last stand of a desperate party, with its last majority blocking in the Senate, there is no need for it, let’s get on and let’s give every Australian the tax cut they deserve.

JOURNALIST:

Is there any room to move on negotiating on the tax cuts?

TREASURER:

The Government has announced the tax cuts and they will be legislated. They will either be legislated by the existing Senate before 30 June, or they will be legislated by the new Senate after 30 June. That is why I say, Labor can’t defeat this tax cut. Labor wants higher taxes but it will not succeed, it cannot defeat these tax cuts. All it can do is delay them and the delays would cause mass confusion and why should people have to wait for their tax cut. They deserve it on 1 July, they should get it on 1 July.

JOURNALIST:

Is there any way they can have it on 1 July and then you legislate in August?

TREASURER:

Well you see, you are going to have massive confusion if this legislation, which is due to take effect on 1 July isn’t passed on 1 July. That is why I say this, there is an easy way and there is a hard way. The easy way is for Labor to give up its useless blocking activity.

JOURNALIST:

But it would be possible, you are saying now?

TREASURER:

No, no, there is an easy way of them getting tax cuts and there is a hard way. The easy way is if Labor gives up its useless blocking activity. The hard way is if Labor manages to block it until 1 July and then the new Senate has to deal with it after that.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) on the radio talked about the working class, (inaudible) anybody who is an employee is part of the working class, are you the working class?

TREASURER:

Yes well, my definition of the working class is anybody who derives their income from labour is part of the working class and since I derive my income in that way, draw your own conclusion. Yes, I believe that people who work, who are employees are part of that cohort. The people who don’t derive their income from work generally derive it from investments, unfortunately not all of us are able to derive our income in that way.

JOURNALIST:

So you are a member of the working class?

TREASURER:

Look, you want my definition of the working class, anyone who works is a member of the working class, right, anyone who works. This idea that you only work if you are engaged in manual labour, most Australians aren’t engaged in manual labour, but they work, they are workers and they deserve tax cuts.

JOURNALIST:

Are you here doing a bit of a Prime Ministerial type campaign, Mr Costello, you have been with children, playing with children, that is what the Prime Minister does, isn’t it?

TREASURER:

Well, I am here to talk about what is in the Budget and the Budget is good for families, it is good for child care. And I want to say to you, our Future Fund which is designed to fund the future of Australians will be helping children like this. These are the future Australians who are going to benefit from the Future Fund. If we fund the future of Australians, these children will be the taxpayers supporting the aged in 40 years time, old people like us, they will have a lot of the liabilities taken off their backs. Last question.

JOURNALIST:

With the industrial relations changes can you guarantee that existing wage levels won’t be diminished when that package goes through?

TREASURER:

Industrial Relations changes are designed to increase wages, not to increase them on an unsustainable basis but to increase them on the back of higher productivity. If we have a better industrial relations system and a more productive economy we can pay ourselves more and it won’t be inflationary…

JOURNALIST:

So no-one will be paid less even on the minimum wage?

TREASURER:

…and that is what industrial relations reform will do, thank you.