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 12/04/2006

Interview with Ross Stevenson & John Burns
3AW

Wednesday, 12 April 2006
8.25 am

SUBJECTS: Underworld crime, tax

STEVENSON:

26 after 8, that is The Untouchables music because Elliott Ness joins us on the line, good morning Elliott.

TREASURER:

Good morning Ross.

STEVENSON:

People are thinking, that sounds like the Treasurer, Peter Costello. You are the new Elliott Ness.

TREASURER:

Well, what is happening in Melbourne I think is a disgrace, a public disgrace. You have got gangsters that are going on trial and disappearing, gangsters that are being shot during trials, witnesses that are being executed, and it appears that nobody can do anything about it. Well, one of the, at the federal level of course one of the things that we can do is we can enforce tax laws against criminals and try and hit them with tax assessments to unsettle them and take some of their ill-gotten assets off them. But it is no substitute for charging them with murder and locking them away by the way.

STEVENSON:

(inaudible) that is how they got Al Capone all of those years ago, you have hit Tony Mokbel with a $4 million tax bill.

TREASURER:

Well, I can’t go into details about individual people but where somebody makes an income from an illegal activity, even though the activity is illegal you can still be taxed and so if the Tax Office can find a stream of income that somebody has, even if it is illegal income and even if he should be put in jail for getting it, if they don’t put you in jail for getting it at least you can hit them with a tax assessment and make them cough some of it back to the taxpayer. You can also incidentally hit them with the confiscation of proceeds of crime.

STEVENSON:

It is called a (inaudible) statement, isn’t it, Peter? Was this your idea to sort of fire this up again or…

TREASURER:

Well, you know as I…

STEVENSON:

…(inaudible) big TV shows?

TREASURER:

No, as a Victorian I am, you know I am pretty scandalised actually by what is happening. I think there has been an attitude in the press that this is like a live scene out of The Godfather and people have thought that it is not all that serious. But the thing that gets me is the reason they are killing each other of course is they are killing each other for the right to sell drugs to our kids, to destroy the lives of our kids. That is what it is all about. People say oh well, it doesn’t matter if criminal figures kill each other, well it does actually because the only reason they are killing each other is so they can make money out of addicting our kids to drugs and that is why it ought to be closed down and stopped. Now, I re-emphasise again, this is not the answer. The answer is to convict these people and put them in jail for murder and amphetamine production and all sorts of crimes. But it is at least one thing that the Commonwealth Government can do to stop this shocking trade.

STEVENSON:

Elliott, we thank you for your time.

TREASURER:

Good to be with you (inaudible).