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 10/06/2005

Press Conference

Treasury Place, Melbourne

Friday, 10 June 2005
11.30 am

 

SUBJECTS: Tax Cuts, Mountain Cattlemen, Telstra, Petro Georgiou, Four Pillars Policy

TREASURER:

In 20 days time every Australian should be getting a tax cut, and there is no reason why every Australian should have that tax cut delayed for a single day.

The Labor Party cannot defeat tax cuts for every Australian, they can only delay tax cuts for every Australian.

Seven million Australians deserve that tax cut. Eight hundred and fifty thousand employers need to know which tax schedules to apply on the 1st of July.

We are now a month after the Federal Budget, Kim Beazley can not tell you today whether or not he will disallow the schedules which provide for these tax cuts.

There has been speculation in the press this morning that the Australian Democrats will make Mr Beazley irrelevant and allow those schedules to pass the Senate. I hope they do. Every Australian can then have their tax cut.

I have written to the Leader of the Australian Democrats today and asked her whether she can make a statement indicating her Party will not disallow the schedules. If she can make that statement I believe that the tax cuts can go ahead on the 1st of July.

I will release the letter that I have sent to Senator Allison and look forward to a reply. We can not waste any more time. These tax cuts are due in 20 days. Kim Beazley cannot defeat these tax cuts he can only delay them and if the Australian Democrats step up to the plate his delaying tactics will be rendered useless.

I say to Mr Beazley, the best thing you can do for Australia is get out of the way, stop the confusion and let Australians have their tax cuts. If you can not do it let us hope the Australian Democrats can.

JOURNALIST:

Is there any way that Mr Beazley could let this through in an honourable fashion or do you think it’s too late for that?

TREASURER:

I think he could let them through in a very honourable fashion. All he has got to do is make this statement - I will not disallow the schedules. That is all he has to do. He does not have to actually vote, he has just got to make a statement. And then seven million Australians will get their tax cut on the 1st of July, 850,000 employers will know what to do. That is all he has got to do. The problem here is, he cannot make a statement apparently. It is not as if, see he has not even told us which statement he intends to make. He has not actually said he will disallow, he has not actually said he won’t disallow. He cannot make up his mind. All we need is a statement of which way he is going to go. This is not leadership being incapable of making a statement and this is going to be in the Senate on Tuesday, he must have thought about it by now as to which way he is going to jump. But he cannot tell you.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Beazley thinks that $6 a week isn’t enough for somebody. Isn’t that fair enough?

TREASURER:

Mr Beazley is opposed to any tax cut - I think we have got to be clear about this - he is opposed to any tax cut on the 1st of July. Mr Beazley thinks people should get nothing on the 1st of July. That is his policy. That is why he is prepared to delay these tax cuts. The Labor policy is for no tax cut for people on the 1st of July. Now, they then say oh but in 2006 we would like to do this, that or the other. Labor is not in Government. Labor will not deliver anything to anybody in this term of Government. We all know - and the Labor Party knows - this is a stunt, Mr Beazley made the wrong call when he decided to oppose the Government’s tax cuts and he has been backing and filling and scurrying from scrutiny ever since. Now, it would not matter if seven million people did not rely on this and 850,000 employers, but they do. That is why the scurrying has got to stop.

JOURNALIST:

But do you think that $12 a week regardless of what, Mr Beazley was in power or not, the $12 a week he put up for people, and your offer of $6 a week, is a lot more and people would like the $12 rather than the $6?

TREASURER:

He did not put up anything. The Labor Party did not put up a policy at the last election. They did not put it up before the Budget. What happened was, when the Government announced tax cuts, he said he was opposed to it. And when he was cornered he said, oh well, actually I have got a new idea for next year. It is a stunt. It is an absolute stunt. Australians know that. You either support these tax cuts on the 1st of July or you do not. He does not. Well he will wear that. But I say to the seven million Australians, they deserve some certainty. We are going to fight to give them a tax cut on the 1st of July. Kim Beazley will not defeat this tax cut. Mr Beazley you will not defeat tax cuts. The best you can do is delay them.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, on the issue of Alpine grazing, as a senior Victorian, do you associate well with the mountain men who do want this saved?

TREASURER:

I reckon the mountain men are fantastic people, and I do believe that they care for the high country, and I do believe that grazing has gone on for many, many years, and that the country is still as beautiful as it ever was. So I do associate with them, yes.

JOURNALIST:

The decision today to add it to the heritage list, is that pretty much just capitalising on community sentiment on this issue?

TREASURER:

Well, I think most Australians support the mountain cattlemen. They are a big part of our history. They are a big part of our mythology. They care for the high country, and I do not think they can understand why they are being closed down, and that is my view. Why close the cattlemen down? I would have thought that there were bigger evils in society than the mountain cattlemen in the high country.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, on the issue of the new Telstra boss, it is reported that he could be remunerated as much as $10 million a year. Do you think that is right for an organisation that is still Government controlled?

TREASURER:

Well as I understand it, his base salary is a lot less than that. There are then incentives which come into play, which the Board will put in place, I guess, to try and improve returns for shareholders. I am not aware of the full details of those. I think that an incentive programme is right. I do not think you should get an incentive just because the company follows the rest of the market. I think the only time you should get an incentive is when you beat the rest of the market, but I am not familiar enough with all of the details to pass final judgement on that.

JOURNALIST:

Does this help pave the way for the full privatisation of Telstra?

TREASURER:

I do not know that it is connected frankly. The ownership of Telstra will have to be resolved, regardless of whom the Chief Executive is. It would have had to been resolved if it was Ziggy Switkowski, or the new appointee. I not sure the two are connected.

JOURNALIST:

On another matter Treasurer, Petro Georgiou is meeting with the Prime Minister this afternoon, do you think there will be changes to Government policy regarding immigration detention?

TREASURER:

I think there have been significant changes already. We now have a visa which allows people who cannot be repatriated to be released under certain conditions. I think that has been a great step forward. We now have very few, if any, children in detention on mainland Australia who arrived by boat. They are nearly all people who have come in by aeroplane with visas and overstayed, or whose parents have come and overstayed, so I think we have made significant changes already.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, this week the head of the Bank of Queensland, David Liddy, said the four pillars policy was a disaster for the nation’s banks. Is there any increase in pressure to change this, or revisit this policy at all?

TREASURER:

No.

JOURNALIST:

Is it a disaster for nation’s banks?

TREASURER:

No.

JOURNALIST:

Is that equivocal?

TREASURER:

No. Thank you very much for your time.