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 13/10/06

Doorstop Interview

Anthony Squires suit company
Melbourne

Friday, 13 October 2006
10.30 am

 

SUBJECTS: Anthony Squires suit company, drought, water

JOURNALIST:

How is the suit?

TREASURER:

Well this is an Anthony Squires suit which has been produced by the Stafford Group.  It is a great suit, the model is not much but it proves you can make even the worst model look marginally respectable with a good Anthony Squires suit.

JOURNALIST:

But it is real Prime Minister material, do you agree?

TREASURER:

Well the Anthony Squires suit has been worn by every Prime Minister since Sir Robert Menzies with the exception of one, so I am wearing it as a good luck charm.

JOURNALIST:

So you would like to be in a different pair of shoes?

TREASURER:

I think I probably need better shoes.  I haven’t got Anthony Squires shoes on today, I have just got my old black ones, probably need a bit of a scuff.

JOURNALIST:

Is it proper that the Treasurer should be, I suppose lending his name to a private business (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Oh look, this is a great Australian company, they have been manufacturing really for 100 years and the current ownership has been operating for 60 years.  You have seen that they have got employees that have been with the company for 50 years or more and it is great that they have been able to give so many people so many jobs and I think it is an example of a successful Australian manufacturing company and we support all companies that are creating wealth and doing business in Australia.

JOURNALIST:

There is one Prime Minister who didn’t wear the suit, can you tell us about why he didn’t?

TREASURER:

Well, he preferred Italian made suits, apparently, to the Australian made, but that was his choice.

JOURNALIST:

On another matter Treasurer, climate change is now generating enormous discussion at the moment, how serious an issue do you see it and does the Government perhaps need to elevate its importance as an issue?

TREASURER:

Look it is plain that we are moving into a very hot summer, we are in a very serious drought, we have to make sure that we can support the rural sector and farmers through this period and I think this is focussing more attention back on conserving water.  Water is our most precious resource, natural resource in this country, I don’t think we have managed it well, I think we have wasted too much of it, I don’t think it has been priced properly and this just brings home to us that we can’t afford to waste this precious resource if we are to look after rural users and the cities as well.

JOURNALIST:

What are the personal things you do to conserve water?

TREASURER:

Well I personally comply with all of the arrangements that are put in place as I think all citizens should.  But I think the water issue in Australia is a question of getting pricing right, of getting a national process, of making sure that we recycle much more than we do at the moment and that water goes to the most important uses.

JOURNALIST:

How does pricing need to change?

TREASURER:

Well I think at the moment a lot of water is used in irrigation where it is not well conserved, and in fact may not be properly priced.  And if we get a national water market going then irrigators and other farmers too will be able to trade water entitlements to make sure that water is conserved and goes to the best value.

JOURNALIST:

Will the Federal Government be looking at interest rates involving farmers between now and, because there is talk the RBA may increase interest rates between now and Christmas?

TREASURER:

The Federal Government operates an interest rate subsidy scheme for farmers who are in areas declared as exceptional circumstances.  What we do is we actually offer a subsidy and we subsidise their costs to enable them to continue to trade.  So we have got the situation for drought affected farmers being met by existing programmes. 

JOURNALIST:

But an interest rate increase would be devastating for many farmers.

TREASURER:

Well that is why we have an interest rate subsidy scheme for farmers.  We actually subsidise farmers in relation to interest rates if they are in an area which is declared Exceptional Circumstances. 

JOURNALIST:

What is your advice to farmers obviously struggling, some are even considering suicide?

TREASURER:

Look it is hard and it is tough and the elements are beyond anybody’s control.  But the Australian Government stands ready to assist, taxpayers stand ready to assist, we have income support for farmers, they are eligible to receive income as if they were unemployed, we have interest rate subsidies, we have financial counselling available.  And I would say to farmers, take up the option of talking to some of these rural counsellors, they can give you support, they can give you financial assistance and more than anything else it is important to stay in touch with those that can give support at a very difficult time like this. 

JOURNALIST:

How much did the suit cost?

TREASURER:

You will have to see the owner about the costs.  Thanks. 

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello, has the Prime Minister given you cause to think that you might be getting your wear out of the suit?

TREASURER:

I am going to be wearing this on a daily basis until such time as it wears out, thank you.