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 11/05/2006

Doorstop Interview

Ministerial Entrance
Parliament House, Canberra

Thursday, 11 May 2006
8.20 pm

SUBJECTS: Beazley Budget Reply

TREASURER:

Well, Mr Beazley let Australia down tonight. He had the opportunity to say something meaningful, he said nothing about tax, nothing about rates, nothing about thresholds, nothing about superannuation, nothing about the Budget and nothing about economic challenges, nothing about policy which would meaningfully address the issues that Australia is now facing.

Mr Beazley has no discipline and you can't make up for a lack of discipline with glib lines and platitudes.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, he had something to say about you however, he said that you were a poker machine that was ripping off middle Australia, what do you have to say to those comments?

TREASURER:

Well, that is what I say. Did he have a tax policy? Did he have a threshold? Did he have a rate? Did he have a Budget bottom line? Did he have a productivity plan? No. Glib one-liners, no substance, and that is because he lacks disciple, Kim Beazley lack discipline. He didn't do policy tonight, he had glib one-liners and you can't make up for a lack of discipline with a glib one-liner.

JOURNALIST:

Do you admit you have ignored skills in the Budget though, in fact the proportion of spending in the Budget on vocational training is set to decline over the next couple of years?

TREASURER:

No, because funding is greater than ever before on vocational educational training, in relation to jobs programmes, in relation to technical colleges, Australia has never spent as much as it will in this Budget.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello, Mr Beazley has accused you of failing middle Australia by neglecting the nations skills shortages, the employer groups and the Reserve Bank have identified this as a major economic problem, how confident are you that there won't be another interest rate rise?

TREASURER:

Well, interest rates and monetary policy are directed towards inflation. That is under an Agreement that I have with the Governor of the Reserve Bank, the 2 to 3 per cent target over the course of the cycle. The Governor of the Reserve Bank and I don't have an Agreement on skills.

JOURNALIST:

So we won't be seeing another interest rate rise then?

TREASURER:

Well I have got to say to you, the one thing we don't have an Agreement on is skills and you have really got to say to yourself, it shows an incredible lack of discipline and lack of understanding by Mr Beazley to suggest otherwise. It's really, you know, it's totally unrelated to monetary policy, monetary policy focuses on inflation and this is the thing about Mr Beazley, how many Budget Replies has he done now? Eight? And they are getting worse. And you have got to say to yourself he still can't find the discipline to actually do the hard work to actually come up with a policy.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello are you jealous that Mr Beazley managed to put a dollar amount next to childcare in his speech but you were unable to do that?

TREASURER:

We have a dollar amount. We have 700,000 places, 25,000 new places, we have the most ambitious

JOURNALIST:

But that is not a dollar amount, with respect, that is

TREASURER:

I'm sorry, it is a dollar amount, in the bottom line

JOURNALIST:

You couldn't even guarantee.

TREASURER:

I'm sorry, in the bottom line of the Budget we do. We have a dollar amount against 700,000 childcare places. Now, unfortunately for Mr Beazley, I don't even know if he agrees with our uncapping because if you listen very carefully to that speech tonight, did he say he supported the uncapping of childcare? No. Did he say he supported the childcare rebate? No. Did he say how he would pay for his promises? No. I have got to say to you, glib one-liners are no substitute for a policy. Last question.

JOURNALIST:

But he did mention climate change.

TREASURER:

(Inaudible) mentioned climate change.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, if interest rates go up can voters

TREASURER:

He only omitted to mention the tax system, the thresholds, the rates, the costing, he made no mentioned of superannuation the largest promise in the Budget, he didn't say he was in favour of it, whether he was against it, whether he believed end benefits should be taxed, whether they shouldn't be taxed, he omitted to mention whether or not he believed the surplus was right, whether the Budget should be in deficit, how much should go into the Future Fund, what should happen with debt. But what was the point? He used the word climate change'? I mean, you have got to say to yourself, after eight Budget Replies, he is getting worse.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, if interest rates go up can voters blame the Prime Minister and you?

TREASURER:

Look, we have the strongest fiscal policy in the world with the exception of possibly Norway. This is not America, we don't have budget deficits, this is not Britain, we don't have a budget deficit, this is not Japan, we don't have a budget deficit, this is not France, we don't have a budget deficit, this is not Germany

JOURNALIST:

But if, Kim Beazley said that if rates go up voters

TREASURER:

you have got to say that the Australian Government runs probably the tightest budget policy of comparable countries in the world. The Australian Government as a government is doing more to add to savings than practically every country in the world apart from Norway. Thank you.