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 26/11/06

Interview with Alison Caldwell
ABC AM Programme

Sunday, 26 November 2006
8.24 am

SUBJECTS: Victorian election

TREASURER:

When you go into an election, you go in to and election to win. So, it's disappointing that we didn't win and I should say that straight up.

But having said that, I think a number of positives emerged from this campaign. First of all, we won seats from the Labor Party, secondly Ted Baillieu established himself as a public figure, and thirdly, we out-campaigned the Labor Party, and we now have an alternative Premier, and that's Ted Baillieu.

CALDWELL:

Some of the supporters today were saying, if we win anything less than 10 seats, we won't be very happy.

They sort of set that 10 seats as a benchmark, is that what you were thinking too?

TREASURER:

Well, we go in to win so that was our objective and if we don't win, we try and win as many seats as we possibly can.

Now, my estimation is we'll win between four and seven. So, that's good and I congratulate the candidates who've definitely won, but it is disappointing, yes, that we weren't able to win more seats and that we won't be able to form a government.

CALDWELL:

I guess it really reflects more on the absolute sort of disaster that happened in 2002 and how far behind the Liberals were in Victoria that you've been able to come as far as you have today, that's the positive.

TREASURER:

Well, the good thing is that we bottomed and turned up.

Now, of course, in some States, where the Liberal Party was in Opposition, we've gone into elections and lost seats. That is, we've gone further backwards in Opposition and that was not the Victorian outcome.

But, having said that, if you look around Australia, we've lost something like 20 State elections in a row. We do not hold government in any State or any Territory.

Our Federal success, to some degree, has masked the fact that the party is long way behind at a State level. We can't get complacent about that; we need good candidates, we need to strengthen our organisation, we need to win some State governments.

And that would be of enormous assistance federally as well.

CALDWELL:

They say that in Australia the reverse happens, that if States are with the Labor Party, then federally the Liberal Party will do well.

Once State Labor governments start to go on the wane, federal Liberal might likewise go on the wane. Do you think that might happen, do you see this as some sort of guide towards a Federal picture?

TREASURER:

No, I don't. I think from a political party's point of view, it's preferable to be in government both at the State and the Federal level. I think that allows you to cooperate better.

It certainly is better in terms of resources and I do not subscribe to the theory that says it's better to have different parties in at one level to help yourself at another level. I would like to see Liberal governments.

And you heard Mr Bracks tonight, pledge himself to opposing the Federal Government. I thought it was very revealing actually, that after winning his third term his ambitions are obviously not those of the State of Victoria, his ambitions are now to start taking on the Federal Government.

CALDWELL:

Are you worried?

TREASURER:

Not worried. I would say to the people of Victoria though, you didn't elect the Premier of Victoria to spend his time worrying about Canberra.

CALDWELL:

One of the big stories out of this campaign and the result is the Nationals.

The Nationals having done so well in regional Victoria, there was an all out brawl between the Libs and the Nats in country Victoria. What does that say about how the Liberals are regarded in regional parts of this State?

TREASURER:

Well, you've got to remember, the Liberal Party is the dominant party in this State and predominantly represents rural Victoria. And that was the case before the election and that's the case after the election.

But I also think that longer-term, when we form government in Victoria, it's likely to require National Party seats to be part of that.

That's certainly the experience in the past and this is something that the party will have to come to grips with over the next four years.