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

Hilton Adelaide

Thursday, 18 May 2006
12.35pm

SUBJECTS: Budget, SA Liberals, Indigenous Affairs

JOURNALIST:

Day four of your Budget tour, how do you feel it has been going and how has your message been received?

TREASURER:

I think there is enormous interest all around Australia in this Budget which has invested so much for the future of our country. Here in South Australia obviously enormous interest in the $500 million investment in the Murray Darling Basin Commission which will improve environmental flows, help irrigators and restore the River Murray to the health that South Australians want and expect. In addition of course investment in roads such as the Sturt Highways here in South Australia and our economic policy settings with tax reform are also being widely and well received.

JOURNALIST:

Your day must be brightened by Rupert Murdoch’s comments yesterday.

TREASURER:

Oh well, I have commented on those comments already and I won’t add any more to what I said yesterday.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, how do you think the new leadership team here, is it a breath of fresh air that the South Australian Liberals desperately need?

TREASURER:

I think so, this is my first face to face meeting with the new leadership team and I will be talking with them over lunch. They have got a long way to go of course, it was a bad election result for the Liberals here in South Australia and they have got to win the confidence and the trust of South Australians. And they are starting from a difficult position but they are making a good start and it will take some time, you can’t expect miracles in weeks but they have got to earn the trust of South Australians and present an alternative government and I think they can do that.

JOURNALIST:

What is your advice Mr Costello to the leadership?

TREASURER:

Well look, it is a long path and I would start with a good foundation and I would hold the Government accountable and I would build policy as the time goes by.

JOURNALIST:

What is the talk behind closed doors in Canberra after the last election result about the Liberals and the state of the Liberals in South Australia? Give us a bit of an insight as to what you and the Prime Minister have said secretly.

TREASURER:

Well we don’t, oh secretly, oh okay, I will tell you what we say secretly now. Look, we don’t direct the state parties, in a Federation we have got responsible for the national government, that is what we focus on. State parties have responsibility for state governments, that is what they focus on. We are willing to lend a hand, we are willing if we are asked to campaign, that is what we do but we don’t direct the policy, these are matters that are handled by the state parliamentary parties.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer in light of the news coming out of Alice Springs with regard to Aboriginal crime waves and paedophilia, is there, do we need to put more money into Aboriginal affairs to stop these sorts of things from happening?

TREASURER:

I don’t think it is a question of money here, what you have got is criminal activity. Let’s call it for what it is. Molesting children, raping women is crime and what you do with crime is you catch them, you try them, you convict them and you punish them. Whether you are black or whether you are white and that is what we need to do. If crime is occurring in an Aboriginal community the fact that it is in an Aboriginal community doesn’t stop it from being a crime and it ought to be prosecuted like any other crime would be. And we don’t go soft because of a person’s skin on rape and child molestation. These are crimes and they need to be prosecuted. They should be treated in just the same way as we should treat people in the white community. Rapists and child molesters should be convicted and they should go to jail.

JOURNALIST:

Is there more the Federal Government can do though?

TREASURER:

Well, we stand ready to assist but in the Territory as you know, there are Territory police, there is a Territory court system, there is a Territory jail system, the Territory has to enforce its own laws. The Commonwealth stands ready to assist but we can’t take over the responsibility of the Territory in relation to policing and law enforcement.

JOURNALIST:

Is a summit what’s needed though as Mal Brough has suggested or would that just be another talk-fest?

TREASURER:

Oh look, as I said the Commonwealth stands ready to assist and if there are areas we can assist we will but this is not a question of money or welfare, this is crime. This has to be stopped and people have to be punished. Okay, thanks.