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 20/11/06

Doorstop Interview
Treasury Place, Melbourne

Monday, 20 November 2006
2 pm

SUBJECTS: Meeting with Bono

TREASURER:

Well I had a meeting this morning with Bono. He initiated it and wanted to make a call.  It was a very warm discussion and it lasted about an hour.  He was very complimentary of Australian economic management and the progress that he has observed in the Australian economy.  We talked of aid, the importance of aid effectiveness, the importance of rooting out corruption and he spoke to me of some of the projects that he supports. They sound as if they are doing good work and it was a very positive, constructive discussion. 
 
JOURNALIST:

Were you able to resolve any of your differences over the adequacy of Australian aid?

TREASURER:

I don’t think we had any differences. He was extremely complimentary of Australia’s economic management, he said he understood our focus on getting rid of corruption and corrupt regimes that waste aid and I think we are in total agreement that until you can show that all aid is being used properly there is no point in engaging in more of it. 

JOURNALIST:

Will you lift aid levels to 0.7 per cent to GDP?

TREASURER:

Well the Australian Government has lifted aid by 81 per cent.  We are now giving $3 billion per annum and we have a programme to increase that to $4 billion.  But I will say this to the taxpayers of Australia:- they don’t want their taxes wasted and the taxpayers of Australia are entitled to know that that $3 billion is being spent well.  And I give them this pledge, that we will be ensuring that the money that is spent isn’t getting wasted, isn’t being spent in countries that are going backwards and isn’t being taken out by corruption. 

JOURNALIST:

Will aid be focused towards the Pacific where we are seeing more and more trouble with government stability?

TREASURER:

Of course Australia’s aid is focused on the Pacific.  That is because we are practically the only country that gives aid in the Pacific.  If we didn’t focus our aid on the Pacific the Pacific wouldn’t be receiving aid at all.  And of course this is another matter that I discussed with Bono.

JOURNALIST:

Was Bono able to add anything to the debate that you haven’t heard before?
\
TREASURER:

Look, he is a very genuine guy, he is a very charming man, he is very sincere and it was just a very warm, positive discussion.  And I am very pleased that I did it.  It was very warm.

JOURNALIST:

Why did you decide to meet with him and the Prime Minister showed a lack of interest in doing so?

TREASURER:

Well I decided to meet with him because he was in Melbourne. He asked to meet me and I thought given the fact that he is in my home town, he is a visitor here and he asked to meet with me, I thought it would be the polite thing to do to meet with him.

JOURNALIST:

Why did he ask to meet with you Treasurer, surely it wasn’t just to praise Australia?

TREASURER:

Well he asked to meet with me because he wanted to discuss global issues and we spent an hour discussing them.

JOURNALIST:

And what issues did you discuss?

TREASURER:

Well I have just told you what I discussed.

JOURNALIST:

But you said he praised Australia and not much else, what did he…?

TREASURER:

No, I am sorry, no, no, you have got to listen very carefully.  I said he was very, very complimentary about Australia’s economic management. And then I told you that we discussed aid effectiveness, the importance of making sure that taxpayers’ dollars are well spent, the importance of rooting out corruption, the role that aid can play in improving living standards, the role that trade can play in improving living standards, he mentioned a few of his own projects and I said, well they sounded pretty interesting and we will have a look at a few of his aid projects.

JOURNALIST:

Will there be any practical results of this meeting?

TREASURER:

Well, it was a good meeting. It was a constructive discussion and I know news hounds are always after a life changing or a world changing announcement but it doesn’t always happen like that.  Thanks.