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 26/09/06

Interview with Karl Stefanovic, Today Show

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

7.10 am

SUBJECTS: F/A-18 Hornet flight, Telstra, water

STEFANOVIC:

Good morning to you.

TREASURER:

Good morning, good to be with you Karl.

STEFANOVIC:

How are you feeling?

TREASURER:

Well it is certainly an experience.  The skill of the pilots is unbelievable and the capacity of the machines that go vertically up; they go vertically down; we intercepted some enemy; we bombed a target; we finished with a “dog fight” and we emerged victorious.  So it was a blast.

STEFANOVIC:

It sounds like a day in Parliament.

TREASURER:

It was better than a day in Parliament.  More fun than towelling up the Opposition. 

STEFANOVIC:

I know, you will know too that there is some speculation about what your call sign might have been.  Was it Maverick or was it Goose, Treasurer?

TREASURER:

It was actually Cougar.  We were calling Cougar 1 and Cougar 2 on the way across.

STEFANOVIC:

Oh dear, Cougar.  All right can we call you that from now on, Cougar?

TREASURER:

It is up to you.

STEFANOVIC:

All right, we will go with it.  Well Cougar, was it $3 billion well spent?

TREASURER:

Well the Hornet programme of course is the first line of fighter aircraft defence for Australia and it is a machine that we've been updating and it has tremendous capacity and as somebody who has been involved in decisions about funding and upgrades and all those kinds of things, it is just a great opportunity to see how it works and I came away very impressed.  I think the programme has been a success and as I say, the pilots and the skill of the pilots is just amazing. 

STEFANOVIC:

You also came away a little bit green and you were bleeding I understand from the ear?

TREASURER:

Yeah, I think when I put my helmet on, my ears were poking out a bit too much and I scratched it by putting the helmet on.  That was an injury I sustained on the ground before I even left, that one.

STEFANOVIC:

All right, well you are talking about being involved in a “dog fight”.  During your time in the air, did you set your sights on Sol Trujillo?

TREASURER:

Well, look, this is something that the shareholders will resolve at their Annual General Meeting.  Shareholders will vote for the directors.  I am sure that the qualified directors will be elected.  I think Mr Cousins is somebody who has got great commercial experience and I think he will be a great addition to the Board.  And I think once the Board realises that, they will welcome him very warmly.

STEFANOVIC:

Well Sol Trujillo doesn't seem all that fussed about it.  Have you lost faith in him?

TREASURER:

Well he is the Chief Executive; he is appointed by the Board and I have confidence in the Board and therefore I have confidence in him.  But you have got to remember the Board is not appointed by the Chief Executive, he doesn’t appoint the Board – the Board is appointed by the shareholders – and this matter will go to the shareholders.  Mr Cousins has got a long commercial experience in Australia and I think when the shareholders have a look at his credentials, I believe that they will elect him. That's a matter for them.

STEFANOVIC:

Treasurer, one other issue I want to talk to you about is this idea that is being floated at the moment that the PM is going to create a Federal Ministry for water resources.  I have just been out west the last couple of weeks and it is incredibly dry out there, do you think this idea is a good one?

TREASURER:

Well bear in mind that the Federal Government does have a major programme - the National Water Initiative going on at the moment with over a billion dollars.  We put another half a billion dollars into the Murray Darling Commission.  So, the Federal Government is working really hard on water and the Prime Minister has just announced a new office to help with that programme and I believe that the programme when it comes to fruition, when it is finally fulfilled, will be a major step in improving the water resources of Australia.

STEFANOVIC:

All right Treasurer, well said and well done yesterday on making it through a little bit green and Cougar, it has been fantastic sharing some time with you today, Cougar

TREASURER:

Cougar 2, over and out. 

STEFANOVIC:

It is going to stick, it is going to stick.  Thanks Treasurer.