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 23/08/2006

Doorstop Interview
Melbourne

Wednesday, 23August 2006
9 am

SUBJECTS: Liberal Party

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) as Treasurer, what do you really think about Ted Baillieu and his leadership? Have you, do you think he will make a good leader or a good Premier?

TREASURER:

I am working as hard as I possibly can to get a change of Government so that the Liberal Party gets into Government and Ted Baillieu becomes Premier. Those of you who were at the State Council at the weekend will know that I called on the Party to get behind the State Opposition and support it and this evening I am launching 13 candidates at a dinner attended by 500 people to help them win seats in the outer east of Melbourne. Now, obviously my primary focus is discharging my duties as a federal Member and a Member of the Federal Government but whenever I have a spare night I am attempting to help the candidates that are running for election to get a better Liberal Government in Victoria and I am launching 13 at a meeting of 500 people this evening.

JOURNALIST:

Jeff Kennett doesn’t believe you have been as supportive as you could have been and he has suggested it might be best if you, in his words, ‘shut-up.’

TREASURER:

Well as I said, I am raising money for 13 candidates tonight at a dinner for 500 people. So, that is obviously enormous important to their campaigns and to the campaign of a State Opposition.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think Ted Baillieu can win in November?

TREASURER:

Well I hope that he does. I hope that he does and I think there is every reason to believe that the people of Victoria are sick of an arrogant, out-of-touch Labor Government and want a change of Government, and I hope that they do do that.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think Mr Kennett’s comments have made that a more difficult task for Mr Baillieu?

TREASURER:

Well you see these comments won’t have helped Ted Baillieu. Anyone who wanted to help Ted Baillieu would not have put this issue on the front page of today’s newspapers. That is the point.

JOURNALIST:

So you think Jeff Kennett should shut up then?

JOURNALIST:

What is you advice to Mr Kennett?

TREASURER:

So you know, if people want to help Ted Baillieu then it is important that they don’t distract the public, that they don’t put this kind of material on the front page of newspapers and it is important, I think, that we get on and raise money and support the candidates which is why this evening I will be addressing 500 people to support 13 State candidates.

JOURNALIST:

What about Mr Kennett’s argument that you haven’t given unequivocal support to Ted Baillieu? You have just said he has got an opportunity and you haven’t actually praised his leadership.

TREASURER:

Well you see, I don’t think this is the age of personal abuse in politics – that was the nineties. I think we have moved past personal abuse and I think now politics is about issues, values and what the public wants to know is where you stand on issues and values. That is why I talk about issues like the ageing of the population, a strong Australian economy, the values that we need to take our country forward. This is what people are interested in – where you stand on issues, what your values are. They are not interested in name calling. Name calling is the politics of the nineties, that is over.

JOURNALIST:

So is Jeff Kennett living in the nineties?

JOURNALIST:

Is he suffering a bit of relevance deprivation syndrome?

TREASURER:

Well you would have to ask him about that.

JOURNALIST:

Just on issues, do you think Ted Baillieu has made a policy clanger on his ‘leave the market where it is’ policy and also those social issues?

TREASURER:

Look, I have no policy expertise on the market. I wouldn’t presume to advise anybody on where the market should be located, I never have and I never will. Where the market is located is a matter for state politicians, not for me. I have never advised on that and I won’t.

JOURNALIST:

And what characteristics does…

TREASURER:

Can I say, you know, the things that I am responsible for are the Australian economy, the millions of Australians looking for work, housing, our trade performance, corporations law, the tax system, superannuation – that is what I spend my days thinking about. I don’t worry about areas that are not within my province.

JOURNALIST:

Jeff Kennett has said that people who don’t have leadership experience don’t understand how hard it is at the top, suggestion that because you don’t have leadership experience you don’t understand how hard Mr Baillieu is doing it and you should just be quiet.

TREASURER:

Well he is entitled to his view, isn’t he?

JOURNALIST:

What characteristic does…

TREASURER:

Do you think it would help Ted Baillieu to say that? I don’t think so.

JOURNALIST:

…what characteristics does Ted Baillieu have that would make him a good Premier?

TREASURER:

That he has much better policy than Bracks and the Labor Party. That is why he should be Premier. You have got a State which is drowning under stamp duty and land tax, you have got a State which is not keeping up with the rest of Australia, you have got a State that needs better government.

JOURNALIST:

And Mr Baillieu is equipped to deal with all of those things?

TREASURER:

And Mr Baillieu would provide Victorians with a much better government than Steve Bracks and the Labor Party. I have said that a thousand times, that is why I am backing him. That is why tonight for 13 candidates I will be raising money with an audience of 500 people. But I won’t be getting involved in personal abuse, that is the politics of the nineties, that is over. You have got to leave that alone. What people are interested in is issues and values and the Federal Government is focussed on the issues, the issues like jobs, the economy, our export performance, our place in the world, the ageing of the population, superannuation reform, corporations law reform – these are the issues that people are interested in. Thank you.