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 11/07/2005

Doorstop Interview
Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne

Monday, 11 July 2005
11.45am

SUBJECTS: Medical research, Phillip Aspinall, national security, Victorian Liberals

TREASURER:

Well this is a great development for the Children’s Hospital and for the Murdoch Institute to have a centre of excellence which is going to be able to treat children with walking problems, adults with Parkinson’s Disease which will provide high-tech analysis, it is almost like a science fiction analysis that will lead to better treatment and help with mobility so people can take part in modern day life. From the Commonwealth Government’s point of view, the $2 million that is being put into this from the Commonwealth Government will aid the research, it will help the clinical treatment and it will be state of the art treatment here in Victoria for all Victorians and I hope the research will benefit people right around Australia, I congratulate everybody who has been part of it because this certainly will be a world class centre of excellence.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, the new Anglican Archbishop has spoken out against the IR changes. Is this a matter for clerics to get in to?

TREASURER:

Look, people are entitled to their views, anybody in Australia is entitled to put their views but each view has to be analysed on its merits and just because you have got a theological degree doesn’t mean you are an expert on industrial relations. He is entitled to his view, it should be analysed on its merits. I think the important thing for Australia is that we get a better industrial relations system and that is what we want at the end of the day, that is what the public discussion is all about, that is what the legislation will lead to, more jobs and higher wages, that is the object of improved industrial relations.

JOURNALIST:

There is all sort of mounting speculation that we might be sending more troops to either Afghanistan or Iraq to cover the British troops that get deployed out of there, is that true?

TREASURER:

Well, the Cabinet will be meeting in Canberra tomorrow and will certainly be discussing Afghanistan. Of course we always keep under review the situation with the Australian commitment but the issue that we will be looking at tomorrow will be Afghanistan and Australia’s help and commitment in relation to that. I don’t want to pre-empt anything that might be decided tomorrow, but it will certainly be an issue of discussion.

JOURNALIST:

Are we talking about more troops or re-deploying existing troops?

TREASURER:

Well, as you know Australia did make troops available for the campaign in Afghanistan which lead to the downfall of the Taliban and secured fledgling democracy in Afghanistan. If there is a need to secure that democracy, and if Australia can be of assistance, that is something the Australian Government will look at very carefully.

JOURNALIST:

Has Australia got the capacity to deploy more troops?

TREASURER:

The Australian military is highly technically proficient and over recent years we have substantially increased defence expenditure. Our SAS troops in Afghanistan were second to none. Our SAS troops in Iraq made a major contribution to that military campaign, Australia has strong advanced techniques particularly in early and special forces so we can handle these matters. It is a question however of ensuring that the aims are clear and the contribution will be positive.

JOURNALIST:

And there is funding available for that if should it be necessary?

TREASURER:

Oh yes, we have had a major build up in military expenses particularly in response to the events of 2001 and not only in public security, in intelligence services, tactical assault groups, special regiments to deal with the biological threats, the Australian military has received a substantial boost in funding.

JOURNALIST:

But why should Australians potentially risk their lives just to cover for the British?

TREASURER:

Well we are talking now about Afghanistan. I have not been talking about Iraq and the point I have made about Afghanistan is to protect the fledgling democracy. If Australia can make a contribution, if it will be a positive contribution to defend the fledgling democracy in Afghanistan we will look at it. Why is that important? I will tell you why it is important. It was the Taliban regime in Afghanistan which gave cover to the training of Al Queda terrorists. It was Al Queda terrorists that launched an attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001, it was the Al Queda linked, Jemah Islamiah that launched the attack in Bali and if you want to deal with terrorism you deal with their bases, that is an important part of the war against terrorism.

JOURNALIST:

Would it be an open-ended commitment?

TREASURER:

Well no commitment has been made, the only thing I said is obviously this will be discussed in the Cabinet tomorrow.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) Peter Costello and Michael Kroger (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Well I think it is sad that she has seen to attack practically everybody in the Liberal Party, the Federal Liberal Party, the State Liberal Party, the State President and the State Director. I think she is very out of touch. I don’t think she has been actively engaged in the last couple of federal election campaigns, I don’t think she really knows what is happening and the good news is that the Party had its best result in 15 years. In 2005 the organisation is in a stronger position than it has been in I would say for 10 or 15 years. Fundraising is better than it has been in my experience and I think the organisation is very positive and very well run. So I think that is a misguided attack on the Liberal Party.

JOURNALIST:

Do you believe that Robert Doyle is electable? She seemed to say that polls showed that he was not electable.

TREASURER:

Well this is the point, I don’t think she would have seen any polling. She was the President six years ago. I would be very, very surprised if she had seen any polling in the last six years so how you could make a comment like that when you hadn’t been privy to polling for six years? And as I recall I think she was President before Robert was even elected. So I would doubt that she has seen any polling at all on Robert Doyle and I would think that is a totally unfounded statement.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) Robert Doyle?

TREASURER:

Absolutely, I think he is doing a good job. His job is to hold the State Government accountable and I think the public of Victoria is now beginning to see that there have been some serious weaknesses here in Victoria and I think Robert has been very much part of holding them accountable.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Well look, I just think that it is very unfortunate that she makes those sorts of allegations and I don’t think it does her any justice.

JOURNALIST:

Can I just finish at the beginning, how important is such a centre like this to medical research not just in Victoria but for the country?

TREASURER:

Look, Australia does medical research well and Victoria does it as well if not better than any other State. And it does it because it has premier medical facilities like the Royal Children’s Hospital and institutes like the Murdoch Institute. So, for the Federal Government to be involved in funding this, this is exciting for Victoria and I believe the research can be important for the whole of Australia and beyond and that is why it is a great honour really to be part of a grant to an institute like this and I hope that we will see many, many children and older people too who are helped, who get more mobility and a better life as a consequence. Thank you.