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 10/07/2006

Doorstop Interview
4 Treasury Place, Melbourne

Monday, 10 July 2006
2.35 pm

SUBJECTS: Undertakings

TREASURER:

Well there has been a lot in the papers the last couple of days, and I have never spoken about these events before, but since others have, the public is entitled to know the full truth. What happened was that Mr McLachlan and Mr Howard sought a meeting with me. The meeting took place on the 5 th of December 1994, there were only three of us there. Mr Howard asked me not to nominate for the Liberal Party leadership because he did not want a vote in the Party Room. He told me that he intended to do one and a half terms as Prime Minister and then would hand over. I did not seek that undertaking, he volunteered it and I took him at his word. Obviously that did not happen, I didn’t stand on my digs, I continued to work for the Government to the best of my ability in the interests of the Australian public. And whilst this country can be improved, whilst there are still things to be done to make it better I intend to give it every ounce of energy that I have. I did not ask Mr McLachlan to relate these matters but his account is entirely accurate.

JOURNALIST:

Was there any equivocation in that deal at all?

TREASURER:

That was precisely what happened. They are the full facts of what happened. I have told you entirely what happened.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) was it a suggestion or a deal?

TREASURER:

I have told you the full details of what happened.

JOURNALIST:

So there was no wriggle room at all for Mr Howard?

TREASURER:

That is what happened. I have a very clear recollection of the event. You can interpret them as you like but that is the full truth of what happened…

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)?

TREASURER:

…and I can’t say any more. That is precisely what happened. The public is entitled to know the full truth and that is what happened.

JOURNALIST:

What did you say to Mr Howard after the one and a half terms?

JOURNALIST:

Will this create open hostility between you and the Prime Minister?

TREASURER:

No, it is not a matter of that. I did not raise these matters. I have been besieged by journalists that want to know what happened, there were three of us, all three of us have now given our recollections of what happened.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible).

TREASURER:

As far as I am concerned that is what happened. And as I said, what happened was that I went on working for the Government and the Australian people, that is why I have never spoken about that from that day to this. I have never spoken about this to anybody and I wouldn’t have if Mr McLachlan and Mr Howard hadn’t already got on the public record in relation to this matter.

JOURNALIST:

Has the Prime Minister lied?

TREASURER:

Look, I am telling you what happened. I am not making any allegations against anybody. I am telling you what happened and, look, you can interpret whatever you like, that is what happened and people are entitled to know what happened and so I will tell you what happened. As I said, I thought the responsible thing to do was to work for the Australian people and the Government and that is what I am doing, what I am doing, working for the Australian people and I will continue to work for the Australian people as part of the Government. Whilst there are things that can be done to improve Australia, I intend to dedicate myself to doing them.

JOURNALIST:

Does that include serving as Treasurer, under Mr Howard to the next election?

TREASURER:

Well, Michael, that is the question I already answered for you, which is this: whilst there are things to be done to improve Australia and whilst I can serve the Australian people, I will continue to do it.

JOURNALIST:

Will you serve as Prime Minister before the next election?

TREASURER:

Well I have already answered my intention. I will continue to serve the Australian people and whilst there are things to be done that can make the Australian nation stronger and better and more prosperous and be the proud country that I want it to be. I will continue to do that. Thank you.