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 11/05/2007

Doorstop Interview
Crown Towers, Southbank

Friday, 11 May 2007
9.10 am

SUBJECTS: Higher Education, Labors Budget In-Reply speech, Australian cricket team

JOURNALIST:

On the full fee cap Treasurer, Melbourne University has been given (inaudible) approval by DEST and the Education Minister under the change this new Melbourne model that (inaudible) so it will be handing some back.  What is to stop other elite universities handing back over time or asking for fewer HECS places and having a larger number of full fee places?

TREASURER:

Well the Commonwealth provides Commonwealth supported places.  We will insist that those places be offered to Australian students, and we will insist that taxpayers money which is used to provide subsidised places for Australians in universities is used for that purpose. 

JOURNALIST:

So universities, including Melbourne, won’t be able to offer fewer HECS places in the future than they do now?

TREASURER:

We won’t be allowing universities to substitute fee paying students for Commonwealth supported students.  Our policy is that Commonwealth supported student places must be provided with taxpayers’ money, but universities, if there is no loss of standards, if they can continue to provide all of those taxpayer funded places, can take in students, people won’t compromise their educational standards. 

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) more students are going to pay full fees, doesn’t that lead to greater inequity in the system – the rich can pay but the poor can’t?

TREASURER:

Well there are numbers of students already taking part in fee paying courses.  Numbers of students are already doing it.  Predominately they are overseas students, but not all, and how could you possibly say that a foreigner can get into a course – a fee paying course – but an Australian is banned?  How can you say to an Australian ‘you are not as good as a foreigner?’  That a foreigner has that right but you don’t?  I don’t see the logic of that.

JOURNALIST:

You have had a night to sleep on the Budget, Labor’s Budget response, any further comments?

TREASURER:

Well I think that Mr Rudd hasn’t really come to grips with the Australian economy.  I don’t think he has done the work and I don’t think he understands the detail.  He didn’t actually put forward measures to help Australian families with tax or childcare, the only measure he put forward was to cut tax for foreigners.  His main Budget announcement was foreigners investing in Australia will get a tax cut.  Not Australians, foreigners.  And even that he got the costings wrong on.  Now, why he would give foreigners a tax break rather than help Australians, is a bit beyond me.  And I don’t think he has thought that through. 

JOURNALIST:

In this morning’s breakfast, you were likened to Mick Jagger, how do you feel about that?

TREASURER:

I keep rolling on.  I keep rolling on.  And the old Mick doesn’t look too bad for his age, I will see how I can do.  I think I have led a cleaner life than he has though.  I am pretty sure. 

JOURNALIST:

Do you think the Australian Cricket Team should be going off to Zimbabwe? 

TREASURER:

Look, I think Zimbabwe is in a shocking state where you have a government which is tramping over the rights of people, where the economy is in a terrible situation, and I wouldn’t want to give any prestige to Zimbabwe and its government.  I feel sorry for the Zimbabwe cricketers, but I have no sympathy at all for the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe, and I wouldn’t want to give him any credibility at all.    Okay, thanks.