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 09/05/2006

Doorstop Interview
Ministerial Entrance
Parliament House, Canberra

Tuesday, 9 May 2006
8.50 am

SUBJECTS:Beaconsfield mine rescue, Budget

TREASURER:

First of all can I say, like millions of other Australians, I watched the footage from Beaconsfield mine of Brant Webb and Todd Russell coming out this morning and it was just the most remarkable, fantastic survival against the odds, just to see the strength of the human spirit, the remarkable strength of those men, the commitment of the rescuers and today all of Australia will pay tribute to them. Also of course to the grieving friends and relatives of the miner that was killed whose funeral is on today, we send our condolences to them. It must be a terrible tragedy for them and a very hard day. But for the two miners and their families, what a wonderful story of survival and I want to add my amazement and jubilation to many millions of other Australians.

Tonight as you know, we have got a Budget that is being brought down, it is going to be a Budget which will be for all Australians, the centrepiece of it will be tax and family payments improvements which will help middle income earners, which are designed for middle income earners, particularly middle income earners with families, improvements in the tax and family payments system which will put more money back into their pocket.

In addition to that, this will be a Budget which is strong on infrastructure and investment in key areas for the country – transport and water – water is one of our most precious resources and we are going to put the largest ever capital injection into the Murray-Darling Basin which will improve environmental flows, help irrigators, help South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and also to a lesser degree in Queensland.

So this is a Budget which will long on investment and focussed on helping families. It will be laying down reform for the future, future opportunities for all of Australians.

JOURNALIST:

So there is nothing for the Reserve Bank to be worried about?

TREASURER:

It will be a Budget that is responsible, we are aiming again to keep the Budget in surplus, this will be a ninth surplus Budget and the reason why we produce surpluses is that the Government adds to savings, it doesn’t draw down on savings.

JOURNALIST:

With the mining tragedy, does that blow the Budget off the front page meaning there is nothing left to announce tonight?

TREASURER:

There is a lot to announce tonight.

JOURNALIST:

I think Paul Keating described it as a ‘pea and thimble trick,’ your effort on foreign debt, did you see the comments and what is your response to the suggestion that the debt argument is a faade and that…?

TREASURER:

Sorry, I have long given up reading Mr Keating.

JOURNALIST:

You are confirming then there are tax cuts tonight?

TREASURER:

I am saying that for middle income earners, particularly for families, there will be a focus on changes to family payments and reduce taxes which will make families better off and put money back in their pockets.

JOURNALIST:

Any relief of petrol prices Treasurer, that is what everybody is talking about?

TREASURER:

Well, unfortunately the world oil price went up recently and I hope it comes down because world oil prices determine Australian petrol prices. But with the current instability in the Middle East and with difficulties in African countries it doesn’t look like we are going to get relief on the world oil price for some time.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think those oil prices are going to affect economic activity domestically going forward?

TREASURER:

Sure, high oil prices mean high petrol prices which restrain the economy and take money out of people’s pockets – that is not good for the economy. High oil prices are not good for the Australian economy, let’s be clear about that and it is just one of the difficulties that we have to manage and cope with at the moment.

JOURNALIST:

The Murray-Darling rescue package, is that about putting greater flows into the Murray?

TREASURER:

Yes, environmental flows, to ensure that we get the environmental flows that we need for wetlands, for consumption, particularly in South Australia and for irrigators. It is an investment in managing our water resources. Okay, thanks.