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 16/01/2006

Interview with Sharyn Ghidella
Today Show

Monday, 16 January 2006
7.12 am

SUBJECTS: Promotions in Los Angeles, child care, tax, Budget

GHIDELLA:

G’day Treasurer, good morning.

TREASURER:

G'day from LA. It's great to be here and the promotion is going really, really well and it is off to a great start.

GHIDELLA:

I hope we are not interrupting any of your partying over there, are we?

TREASURER:

Well, we've just been watching Steve Irwin battle with a rattlesnake and an anaconda and we're about to see an AFL game where the Sydney Swans play North Melbourne Kangaroos so I don't know which is the rattlesnake and which is the anaconda.

GHIDELLA:

Well let’s get on to that very important issue of child care, we have just heard what Jackie Kelly had to say, according to her the Government isn't really spending its money wisely when it comes to child care, you have got a huge government surplus to play with, are you going to fix the problem?

TREASURER:

We're spending more on child care than has ever been spent in Australian history and we have more places than have ever been had before in Australia so let's start from that position. Does that mean that there still aren't shortages? No. And I think it is important that we do get additional places, particularly the outside school hours places where parents drop kids off for school, school finishes a lot earlier than work and we're really beefing up those outside school hours places so that people can be engaged at work and know that their kids are being properly supervised and that they are being given informative and they are being given stimulating care outside of school outside of school hours. So there's a big focus on that. The second thing which has been introduced in the last Budget of course was the child care rebate. Many parents haven't been able to claim that yet but I think once they do claim that, and that's a 30% rebate, that is going to make a lot of difference to the costs of child care.

GHIDELLA:

Treasurer is that going to be enough though? You have Jackie Kelly saying that the child care system is in a shambles, it needs to be rebuilt, there needs to be a national policy, she wants the budget increased by 50%. Are you going to offer that in the Budget?

TREASURER:

Well as I said before, we are spending more on child care than has ever been spent before in Australian history and as I've also said, I think there is probably still unmet demand so sure we will be looking at increasing places where we possibly can. But as we come up to this Budget, additional spending is one issue, the other issue which we want to hold in balance is reducing tax burdens. On the one hand, you can't do both, and you can't both increase expenses and reduce tax burdens and of course holding those two things in balance and making sure they are consistent with strong economic growth is the difficulty when you're framing economic policy.

GHIDELLA:

So Jackie Kelly may not be getting the money she's asking for, there may not be this 50% increase in the Budget?

TREASURER:

Well you have got to remember that in a pre-Budget round, everybody positions, there is people who want more money in child care, there are people who want more money in defence, obviously there will have to be more money spent in relation to health, there are the pressures of aged care and having done all those things there is also a legitimate concern that we keep the tax burden as low as we possibly can in Australia. And I think once you have done all of those things it takes a lot of work to bring them together and that is what good economic policy is all about.

GHIDELLA:

Alright well keeping the tax burden low, the Nationals have come out and said they want the top personal rate of tax reduced to 35%, is that going too become a reality?

TREASURER:

Well, different people have made different points in relation to that. I think Mark Vaile made the point recently on behalf of the National Party that he wants us to focus on farming families, very few of whom actually are in the top rates of marginal tax and we have got to bear them in mind of course, the farming families. But when you put all of these things together of course, you have got a whole lot of legitimate demands for more spending, you have heard some from Jackie, you have got a whole lot of legitimate demands for lower taxes, you have heard them from a lot of other people, putting it together is not the easiest thing but the most important thing is that we keep the Budget balanced and interest rates low. We stand for low interest rates and if we spend more money then the economy can absorb and interest rates go up it won’t matter where you are spending the money because people won't be able to afford it if they can't keep their homes.

GHIDELLA:

Indeed, well Treasurer I think I just heard the ref blow the whistle there so it must be full-time so we will call it quits, thank you very much for your time this morning. Enjoy LA.

TREASURER:

Great to be with you.