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 21/11/06

Interview with Stephen Long
ABC AM Programme

Monday, 20 November 2006

Time
8.20 am

SUBJECTS:G-20 outcomes, protests, resource security

LONG:

Treasurer, thanks very much for your time.  Your own brother is saying that the G-20 has been much ado about nothing and you might as well have stayed home because there has been a complete lack of leadership and the final Communiqué demonstrates that.  How do you feel about that?

TREASURER:

Well I think as three or four of the delegates said this is the best meeting of the G-20 has ever been.  The G-20 has been going for I guess, six or seven years.  The fact that it came to Melbourne, that Central Bank Governors, Finance Ministers, the calibre of people that turned up, the level of discussion, the outcomes that we managed to get consensus on shows that it was a fabulous success.

I regret obviously the level of violence which marred the event with completely unrepresentative protestors.  But that was the only downside I think in what was a very successful forum. 

LONG:

How would you respond though to those who are saying there was no firm commitments on big issues – Doha, climate change or debt relief and increase in aid for the developing nations?

TREASURER:

Well there were definite commitments to progress of the Doha round, each of the countries that were here gave a commitment in relation to that, definite commitments in relation to opening up energy markets, containing global inflation, the effect that that has in relation to interest rates. And probably the biggest breakthrough we have seen in 30 years on the reform of the international financial system where we have already delivered one reform to the IMF and World Bank arrangements and quotas and representation. And we have got agreement to go further. 

LONG:

Resources security seems to be one of the key issues in the meeting and were suggesting that you made strong progress on that measure.  Would it be fair to say even after this meeting and your Communiqué that resources security means very a different thing to different people in various countries?

TREASURER:

Well of course resource security means different things to different countries.  It depends on whether you are a producer or whether you are an importer.  It depends whether you are talking about oil or gas or nuclear.  But how can you get a common understanding?  If you bring 90 per cent of the world’s GDP and two-thirds of the world’s population in one room and you explain to each other your different concepts and you get some consensus on how to go forward, this is practical, this is real.  There aren’t magic wands that can be waved to fix these problems.  In the big world you meet big players and Australia was at the centre of that this weekend, bringing those big players together so they could hear from each other and leading them in a way in which we can have consensus. 

LONG:

So resource security in your mind means an anti-cartel stance, we shouldn’t have cartels, how did that sit with the Saudis?

TREASURER:

Well there are some countries that think that the important thing is to restrict supply, I don’t think that is right. I don’t think the G-20 consensus is that we should be restricting supply.  The G-20 consensus is that we should be encouraging supply, bringing prices down.  Bringing prices down we all know is not just a question of delivering lower petrol prices by the way, it is delivering cheaper energy to countries that need energy to boost industry, give people jobs, put bread on the table.  These are the very, very significant things and a cartel which pushes prices up not only harms consumers but of course it harms that development process. 

LONG:

So is Peter Costello the Australian Treasurer saying OPEC should be disbanded?

TREASURER:

I am saying that there is no place for cartel activity in the oil market or anywhere else.  Proper investment, increased supply, world pricing, disclosure of stock, the availability to all countries is in the interest of all countries and people in all of those countries.

LONG:

And do you expect that the Saudi Oil Minister and Foreign Minister to go back and convey that to their friends in OPEC?

TREASURER:

Well I think what we can do is we can point to the fact that we have consensus on these principals and we can ask all countries to work to those principals and now we have them stated.  They are there, there are in black and white and we can ask countries to move to implement the principals that we agree on.