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 18/05/2006

Doorstop Interview

South Adelaide Football Club
Noarlunga Downs, Adelaide

Thursday, 18 May 2006
9 am

SUBJECTS: Private Kovco, Rupert Murdoch, child abuse

JOURNALIST:

Should heads roll over the latest Jake Kovco embarrassment?

TREASURER:

Well, the Minister has ordered an investigation to get to the bottom of it. If somebody has breached military requirements or somehow been responsible for a discipline breach I am sure that that will be attended to. But the important thing is to make sure there is a full investigation, it should never have occurred, I feel for the family, I send them my sympathy as has the Defence Minister and the Chief of Defence Force, it was insensitive that this disk was dealt with in an careless way and those that are responsible I am sure will feel that they have let down the Defence Force and the family.

JOURNALIST:

Surely such a high level of incompetence though would warrant some kind of punishment for those responsible.

TREASURER:

Well we will have to see what happened and what the circumstances were and I am sure that the Defence Forces will deal with it appropriately.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think that Angus Houston should go?

TREASURER:

Oh no, Angus Houston is the Chief of the Defence Force, he is somebody who has enormous respect and he has the full confidence of the whole of the Government, this is not an omission that he was involved in obviously, it is an omission that somebody else was involved in and let’s have a look at the investigation and see what comes out of it.

JOURNALIST:

In light of Rupert Murdoch’s comments about John Howard leaving while he is on top, have you actually held talks with Rupert about a succession plan?

TREASURER:

Look, I don’t discuss the nature of my conversations with anybody…

JOURNALIST:

Is that a yes?

TREASURER:

…no, it is a I don’t discuss the nature of my conversations with everybody because obviously when I have conversations they are entitled to know that these are confidential and I won’t be going into private conversations with anybody.

JOURNALIST:

Well it sounds like though you perhaps have at least held talks of the topic.

TREASURER:

No, it doesn’t sound like that at all.

JOURNALIST:

On the abuse that has been uncovered in Aboriginal communities, Mal Brough has been told to pretty much shut up by Clare Martin, is that what you believe he should do, has he gone too far?

TREASURER:

I think Mr Brough is rightly concerned about what is happening in communities, he has shown a keen personal interest, obviously this is absolutely intolerable that in communities we could have child abuse, children who are very, very young who have been damaged and scarred for life, it is unacceptable, it is something where the perpetrators must be brought to justice and punished and the children much be put out of harm’s way and it is incumbent of the Territory police to bring prosecutions, the courts to try them and the jails to punish those people responsible very heavily.

JOURNALIST:

So you would support the removal of children in harm’s way?

TREASURER:

Oh sure, if a child is at risk of rape or sexual abuse that child should be removed from the danger. If the child is Aboriginal the child should be removed from the danger, if the child is white the child should be removed from the danger. And there should be no cover up, there should be no qualification, those that are responsible should be prosecuted, convicted and jailed.

JOURNALIST:

Would this be a repeat though of the stolen generation in a way?

TREASURER:

Well the most important thing is to see that children are safe and I would believe every Australian would think that a child at risk whether it is Aboriginal or white deserves a safe situation to be free of sexual molestation and whatever you call it, I call it looking after the welfare of a child and they deserve the same right if they are an Aboriginal child as a white child, to be free from sexual abuse. Thank you. Thanks very much.