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 08/12/2005

Doorstop Interview

ABS House, Belconnen
Canberra

Thursday, 8 December 2005
11 am

SUBJECTS: ABS, tax havens, RBA, competition policy, MYEFO

TREASURER:

Well this is a very important announcement today that the statistical records of the Commonwealth as collected by the ABS will be available online and they will be available free of charge so that all Australians can see them and that will enable all Australians to get information about the nature of the country we are, our population, in relation to economic statistics and it will increase the free flow of information in relation to the very important work that the ABS does.

JOURNALIST:

What will that cost?

TREASURER:

Well it won't be a large sum because we did make many of the publications free in the last Budget but it is picking up the ones that haven't been covered yet.

JOURNALIST:

How is the, what is the progress at the moment at getting a new member for the RBA Board? Can you tell us what stage you are at?

TREASURER:

Oh well, there won't be a meeting until February so there is quite some time and people will be considered and when we have got an announcement to make we will make it.

JOURNALIST:

Are you approaching it any differently than you have previously?

TREASURER:

No.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer where do you stand on issues of tax evasion and tax avoidance given you have been active clamping down on tax havens in the past, it has been a confusing couple of weeks?

TREASURER:

Well, Australia has been one of the leaders in an OECD project to encourage countries to share tax information so that investigations and proper enforcement of domestic laws can take place. Now let me make it clear, it is sometimes said by our critics that this is an attempt to try and govern the tax systems of other countries it is not it is an attempt to govern domestic or sovereign tax systems. Where there are people that are subject to income tax laws in their own country in our case Australia then you need the cooperation of other jurisdictions to properly enforce those. We have recently signed a treaty with Bermuda, we are actively pursuing treaties with as many other countries as we can and we are leading progress around the world in relation to that.

JOURNALIST:

Your resolve hasn't wavered at all?

TREASURER:

Not in the slightest. No, we are leading the project of the OECD, we would be one of the countries at the forefront of that.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello, do the declarations signed by RBA Board members have any legal weight or are just a take me as my word?

TREASURER:

These are declarations that are signed by all Commonwealth appointees. It is not just RBA Board members, it is judges, ACCC, ASIC, this is a standard Commonwealth position.

JOURNALIST:

But do they have the same legal weighting say as a statutory declaration?

TREASURER:

Well they are declarations as to interests and they are declarations as to the position and people are expected to do them to the best of their ability and the Commonwealth relies upon them.

JOURNALIST:

Just on the Singapore Airlines issue Treasurer, the Prime Minister said this morning that that issue may not be considered for a little while yet, can you shed any light on why this is taking as long as it is?

TREASURER:

There are a lot of issues involved in this. There are issues about routes, there are issues about bi-lateral entitlements, there would be issues about competition policy, there are a lot of issues wrapped up in that.

JOURNALIST:

Is it then something that a decision that will be taken early next year rather than?

TREASURER:

I can't tell you when it will be taken. It will be taken when we are ready. Last question.

JOURNALIST:

Is the Mid-Year Review ready yet, a date close to the Mid-Year Review?

TREASURER:

Well we have got the National Accounts, we will now take those into account and we will be doing something before Christmas. Thank you, thanks.