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 25/11/06

Doorstop Interview
Melbourne

Saturday, 25 November 2006
10.30 pm

SUBJECTS: Victorian election

TREASURER:

It is a disappointment of course for the Liberal Party not to win the election, but Ted Baillieu campaigned magnificently. I think that during this campaign he established his leadership, he established an identity with the Victorian electorate and I think that gives a very good base for going forward. Of course we congratulate Mr Bracks on being re-elected but from the Liberal Party’s point of view, to have received a swing is pleasing and it gives us a base for the next State election.

JOURNALIST:

Peter, I asked Ted back at the Tower Hotel would he stay on as leader and he gave an answer with a very familiar with ‘I will stay as long as the Party wants me.’ Do you think that he has established himself now as the man to run the ship for the next four years?

TREASURER:

I think the thing that comes out of this election more than anything else is establishing Ted Baillieu as a public figure and as a leader who has the best chance to become the next Premier of Victoria. When the campaign began he had only been in the job for a short period of time, he became well known. I think every independent observer would say he out-campaigned Mr Bracks and by the time the campaign ended he was a formidable, political character. And although we didn’t win this election, the next election is an opportunity for him now with experience under his belt to go all the way. And I think Ted Baillieu has the best chance of any other person in Victoria to become the next Premier, and I hope he does, and I hope he gets a clean run at the next State election and I hope that in four years’ time we have got a better result than we have got tonight.

JOURNALIST:

Would you support a Coalition between the National Party and the Liberals in the State Parliament? I mean, the Nationals have polled very well.

TREASURER:

I think we are going to have to come to grips with this issue of the Coalition. The Upper House means that you would have to have a joint ticket as we do at the Federal level. But we do manage to actually handle this at the Federal level with a joint ticket for the Senate, we don’t run against each other, that saves us in relation to resources and I think the reality is that the people of Victoria do want the anti-Labor forces to work together and that is certainly one of the things that will have to be looked at over the next four years.

JOURNALIST:

What aspects of Ted Baillieu’s performance do you think he could improve on between now and the next time?

TREASURER:

Well he didn’t have much time, that was his problem. He only became leader shortly before the election, he wasn’t that well known as a consequence of that but he used the election campaign to really lift his public image and he is now an alternative Premier. The big thing that comes out of this campaign is we now have an alternative Premier and it is Ted Baillieu. That is what comes out of this campaign. The Labor campaign was flat-footed and boring, and the big news story out of this campaign was the emergence of an alternative Premier, that alternative Premier is Ted Baillieu.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)?

TREASURER:

It didn’t bother me, it might bother you if I wore Speedos.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) the Greens and the Liberals, (inaudible) taken off with the seat of Melbourne where Bronwyn Pike looks like she might get over the line?

TREASURER:

Well it wasn’t a preference deal. In relation to preferences we mostly put the Greens last and in some seats we put Labor last. But you know, the Greens and Labor are left-wing and more left-wing.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) Melbourne.

TREASURER:

What was that?

JOURNALIST:

It wasn’t a deal with the devil in the seat of Melbourne?

TREASURER:

I wouldn’t call Bronwyn Pike the devil.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) between the Liberals and the Greens?

JOURNALIST:

Would you consider putting any money on the table for Ted to buy maybe a (inaudible) jumpsuit and getting some singing lessons?

TREASURER:

He sings just fine as far as I am concerned and you know, there would be a lot of 50-year-old men out there that would like to be able to wear Speedos and look as good as he does. And I am sure there are a lot of 50-year-old women that would like 50-year-old men to look as good as he does in Speedos.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, another Labor State has failed to go back to the Liberals. What does the Liberal Party have to do at a State level to finally (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

In this Victorian election we won seats off the Labor Party and Ted deserves congratulations for that. There are many seats where the Liberal Party has actually lost seats to the Labor Party from Opposition. that is we have gone backwards. I think it is something like 20 State elections in a row we have now lost. And that sends a big message to the Party and its organisation right around the country. Don’t think that the Liberal Party is the natural Party of Government. We hold Government at the Federal level but we are out in six States, two Territories and we have lost 20 elections. And the big wake-up call there is we have got to make sure we are recruiting good people, we have got to get our organisation together, we have got to work on policy. You can’t leave an election to the last four months. An election is a four year proposition and right around Australia the Liberal Party has got to come to grips with this and we have got to lift our game. We have got to be frank, we have got to lift our game. We don’t run in elections to come second, we run in elections to win.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) of Ted Baillieu for the next four years?

TREASURER:

Well Ted Baillieu is one of the Liberal leaders who has actually won seats off the Labor Party. In many of the other States, although we are in Opposition, the Labor Party has won seats off us. So Ted can hold his head high as one of the most successful State Liberal Leaders. The story out of this campaign is the emergence of an alternative Premier. That is the story of this campaign.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, how much do you think the costings blunder in the last day hurt the Liberals?

TREASURER:

Oh look, it is always better if you get these things right but I don’t think the election turned on that. It is better to get the sums checked and triple checked. But I think you are coming off a long way behind in this State election, that was always the problem. Okay, thanks.