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 29/06/2005

Doorstop Interview

110 Wright Street
East Devonport, Tasmania

Wednesday, 29 June 2005
4.30 pm

SUBJECTS: Potato Growers

JOURNALIST:

How uncompetitive are Australian farmers compared to the rest of the world?

TREASURER:

Well I don’t think they are uncompetitive at all. I think Australian farmers are very competitive. I think they have got state of the art investment, I think they are highly skilled, I think they produce clean and fresh product and I think they produce it at very good prices.

JOURNALIST:

Well what would you say to McDonalds then, it has obviously dumped them for New Zealand?

TREASURER:

Well I don’t know what McDonalds side of the story is and I would be very interested to find out. I have heard the side of the story from the potato growers here and I was very interested to hear it and I think the next thing would be to ask McDonalds what its side of the story is.

JOURNALIST:

Did you issue a challenge to McDonalds this morning on radio saying that they would be best to source 100 per cent of their produce from Australia?

TREASURER:

Well I would say to McDonalds that when Australians buy from McDonalds they would be much more reassured if they knew they were buying Australian produce and I think McDonalds could make that a good selling point. And years ago it used to. Years ago it used to boast that its French fries were coming out of Tasmania and I think Australians like that and I think they feel much more comfortable buying that produce if they know that it is a competitively sourced good product coming out of the clean growers of Tasmania. So, I would say to McDonalds if it can give Australian consumers that kind of reassurance I think it would be very much in McDonalds interests.

JOURNALIST:

What would you say to these farmers, I mean this is their livelihood that is in threat?

TREASURER:

Well, what I would say to the farmers is that obviously they have good products, they have good businesses, they need to be given a fair go, they need good labelling laws, I have taken on board the matters they have put to me, we are going to have another discussion, it was a very useful and very fruitful discussion and I enjoyed the opportunity to hear it very much.

JOURNALIST:

Can the Federal Government tell or encourage McDonalds to store local produce?

TREASURER:

No we don’t tell businesses how they have to run, it is a free market economy…

JOURNALIST:

Are you moving into dangerous waters here then?

TREASURER:

…the Government doesn’t run these businesses but I can make the observation that I think for the Australian consumer, the Australian consumer knows that Australian product is good, clean product and I think the Australian consumer would feel very reassured if it knew that the product was coming from Australia.

JOURNALIST:

How is the Government, I mean early days yet, but how is the Government going to change the mindset of these corporate heavyweights?

TREASURER:

Well look, I think these issues have got a fair way to run, I have had a very useful discussion with the growers today as I said, now it is an opportunity for the other side to put its case, we’ll listen to what it is and if the Government can assist the growers of Australia to be profitable, successful enterprises we will do that. Thanks.