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 26/12/2005

Treasurer
Doorstop Interview

Melbourne Cricket Ground

Monday, 26 December 2005
1.20 pm

SUBJECTS: MCG heritage listing; taxation

TREASURER:

The Australian Government is putting together a national heritage list of all those sights which make Australia what it is – cultural sites, natural sites, indigenous sites and sporting sites. Today the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is going to be listed on to the National Heritage List as Australia’s premier sporting arena, an arena where cricket was first played between colonies and between countries, where the AFL had its spiritual home and still plays its grand final. Sport is so central to Australian life; it looms so large in people’s consciousness that the sporting arenas are now part of Australia’s heritage and culture. And the MCG, as our premier sporting arena, will now be on a heritage list recognised along with other great icons of Australia as one of the great sites that has made Australia what it is. We have got legends here from cricket and football who are both going to say something about what the MCG means to them.

BILL LAWRY:

Well I think it is wonderful for all Victorians It is the home of sport, as Peter has already pointed out, but for a cricketer from the Northern suburbs just to walk on to the MCG as a teenager to play cricket for Victoria was the biggest thrill of my sporting life – even bigger than playing for Australia. I think every Victorian just loves the MCG – be it football, cricket or any sport and the Olympic Games, of course, in ’56 and you’ve got the Commonwealth Games starting in a few months time. I just think it is wonderful. I think it is the 21st place to be heritage listed and I think the MCG can stand tall just 20 minutes walk from this great city.

RON BARASSI:

Well I just love the MCG. Like Billy said, Billy and I used to go to school together; we used to discuss it instead of doing our exams properly. I just love the place. And I think it is worthwhile reminding the viewers that no Victorian taxpayer or Australian taxpayer has paid any money towards the stadium. There have been loans and all of that but hasn’t been a fund which…put it this way, we did it ourselves, the sporting community of Victoria, of Melbourne did this ourselves. And it has been a sensational stadium for decades and decades and decades. I can remember seeing a game here in 1948; it was a grand final, I am not sure if I saw the grand final or the replay because there was a replay back then. Essendon were beaten – did you hear that? Essendon were beaten in that match and it was a marvellous thing. My father played here so I really feel attached to this place here and to hear it’s been put on a marvellous list like the Heritage List, I think it’s absolutely fabulous. And for those very few people who aren’t into sport, come down here and juts have a sit one day even by yourself, even if there is nobody here, just have a sit and you’ll just marvel at the peace in this place and you will be able to visualise the cricketers and the footballers playing here.

JOURNALIST:

Barass, what do you make of the new members stand – you are a member – does it have the same atmosphere as the old Long Room?

RON BARASSI:

No because that was a magic room and it had such a name and this one has to build up a name. You don’t want any “johnny-come-latelies” coming in and taking over but it is a marvellous room. I don’t think the old stand - the member’s stand – was worthwhile saving myself. If it had been the Sydney Cricket Ground with those old buildings up there I would have a different view on that but no I think we did the right thing in building this edifice for sport.

JOURNALIST: Treasurer, what does it mean for this to be heritage listed, practically?

TREASURER:

Well what it means is that it is recognised as one of the great sites of Australia. The sites of Australia that define who we are – the Sydney Opera House, Port Arthur, Gallipoli, the MCG – things that loom into the consciousness of everybody who has grown up; everybody who has grown up and loves sports, and let’s face it that’s nearly every Australian, knows the MCG. They know the Boxing Day Test; they know the AFL Grand Final; they are going to see the Commonwealth Games and it just recognises that this is part of who we are, that it needs recognition and protection and being on the National List will do that.

JOURNALIST:

So in the future you won’t be able, for example, to tear down a stand or replace it?

TREASURER:

Well the ground will always have to be here; the ground will always have to be set aside for premier sporting events, if there is any redevelopment in the future it is going to be a long time after all of us are gone, they will have to talk to the people involved and make sure it is consistent with those objectives.

JOURNALIST:

Is this is along time overdue?

TREASURER:

Yes. It is a long time overdue. To be entered on the national list takes a lot of investigation. It has to go before an independent committee; there are a lot more nominations than sites that can be listed and for the MCG to be finally recognised as the great stadium that it is – is a great day for Melbourne, is a great day for Victoria and Australia.

JOURNALIST:

Can I just ask you about tax…?

TREASURER:

Why don’t we let these guys go and then I will (inaudible).

JOURNALIST:

…They might want to hear about (inaudible).

TREASURER:

They might have their own views – okay you can stay…..

JOURNALIST:

……..Labor are apparently, according to one newspaper report about to announce some major tax reform, flattening the tax base perhaps giving tax cuts to high income earners. Have you had a chance to muse over that and can we get you reaction to it?

TREASURER:

The Government’s position is we want to balance our budget, keep interest rates low, fund health, invest more in national security and cut taxes and that is what we have done in the last three Budgets and if we have the opportunity for further tax cuts next year we will be doing that as well.

JOURNALIST:

But tax reform doesn’t necessarily mean tax cuts, it could be a re-organisation of the tax system which is what I think Labor are suggesting and bringing the rates down for high income earners and families?

TREASURER:

I think what people are interested in is having taxes which are as low as possible and that is the kind of tax reform that people are interested in. I don’t think they are interested in tax reform that increases taxes. I think they are interested in tax reform which reduces the burden on average families. I am focussed on families. Families who need help who we are really going to be focussing on in the future and ensuring that they can have the benefits of good economic policy.

JOURNALIST:

I think he is saying that….he wants to cut the top marginal rate – do you agree with that?

TREASURER:

I think the important thing is that we keep the burden as low as possible for all people. I am not just focussing on those in the top rate, I am focussing on families; families that are doing it hard; mums and dads that are servicing a mortgage; that are looking after kids; that are raising kids; that are educating kids. We need to keep in sight all Australians, particularly families, when it comes to the taxation system.

JOURNALIST:

Do you (inaudible) that the time is right, the environment is right to really have a good look at the income tax system and give it a good overhaul?

TREASURER:

I think the time is right, consistent with low interest rates. And that’s the caveat I put on this - it is very important that we keep interest rates low. The time is right to work at reducing the tax burden. We did it in 2003, we did it in 2004, we did it in 2005 and if we can do it again we will do that as well. Thanks very much.