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 14/05/07

Doorstop Interview
Stamford Plaza, Brisbane

Monday, 14 May 2007
12.45 pm

SUBJECTS: Economy, Budget, Future Fund, inflation

JOURNALIST:

The Galaxy Poll this morning – not the best news for the Government?

TREASURER:

The important thing is to do what is right for the economy and that is what our Government stands for – to get more people in work, make sure that businesses are successful, to make sure that people can keep their homes and to invest in education.  And the plan that I brought down last week is a plan for Australia’s future, and I am sure that as you see that plan unfold, its benefits to Australia and the future of Australia will become more and more apparent. 

JOURNALIST:

That the voters will come around?

TREASURER:

Well the important thing is to do what’s right for the economy. That is what a Budget is about – to make sure people can get jobs and stay in work, that they can keep their homes, that businesses are profitable.  That is what you focus on, and also laying down a plan for Australia’s future.  I don’t think we have seen so much thought go into a plan for the future for a long time and that investment I think will keep Australia strong and lock in our prosperity.

JOURNALIST:

Are you a bit worried though – there’s a lot of marginal seats in Queensland that you guys need to hold on to and that doesn’t seem to be, hasn’t seem to have won them over, the Budget?

TREASURER:

I am not worried about the economic effect of the Budget because I am sure this is a Budget which will invest for the long term and it will keep people in work, make sure people can keep their homes, keep businesses strong. So I have no doubt this is the plan for Australia’s future and as I explain it to people, and as people understand how much effort has gone into investing in Australia’s future possibilities, I think most people will see that it is good for Australia, it’s good for jobs, good for families and it will really give us the kind of opportunity we want.

JOURNALIST:

Speaking of the Future Fund, are you going to be plundering the Future Fund during the lead up to the election?

TREASURER:

No, I established the Future Fund, and it is to invest for Australia’s future. And that Future Fund should be absolutely off limits.  Unfortunately the Labor Party wants to raid our future.  They want to take money out of a superannuation fund which they never built and they didn’t have the wit to establish.  And that is raiding from future generations.  That is stealing from the future.  That is totally irresponsible and I call on the Labor Party, I call on Kevin Rudd, if he wants to demonstrate that he has changed, that he is going to become an economic conservative, I call on him to announce now that he will not raid the Future Fund.  Nobody who is truly an economic conservative would raid the savings of future generations.  That is a big test for him – get rid of the policy, make sure that you don’t steal from the future and do something to establish some economic credentials.

JOURNALIST:

But if you’re easily meeting the targets though of the money that you have been putting in, doesn’t that give you a spare bit of money that you can throw around before the election?

TREASURER:

Just imagine if you put some money into a bank and somebody came along and said: ‘I will take some of your savings’. That is what Kevin Rudd is proposing to do.  We put money in the bank for future generations, Kevin Rudd comes along and says ‘I would like those for my election promises’.  That is not the action of an economic conservative.  That is the action of an economic vandal.  And he is doing it for political advantage and that is why I say – hands off the national savings Mr Rudd, hands off the national savings.  You didn’t establish it, you didn’t set the savings aside, there is no excuse to steal from future generations.

JOURNALIST:

We are talking about your Government though, if it’s not meeting…

TREASURER:

Well our Government established the Future Fund, our Government put the money aside.  There wouldn’t be a Future Fund without our Government.

JOURNALIST:

Do you promise not to raid that – the Future Fund?

TREASURER:

Oh absolutely.  Of course.  That is why I have set it aside, it is for future generations, it can’t be touched until it meets its target or 2020, that is what the legislation is. Now the only way that you could raid that fund would be to get into Government and to pass legislation which enables you to get your grubby hands on it.  That is the Rudd policy, that is the Labor policy.

JOURNALIST:

What about inflation – do you think that’s under control?  Have you got it under control?

TREASURER:

Well inflation, as shown by the most recent March quarter, showed a deceleration down towards the middle of the band in underlying terms – around about 2½ per cent, a little bit more.  That is where we like to keep it and I think it is very, very important as we go forward that we keep inflation low. Our target is over the course of a cycle to keep it between 2 and 3 per cent.  That is what it has averaged for the last five years, that is where I want to keep it going forward.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think the Opposition will back down over AWAs?

TREASURER:

Well I hope so.  The most responsible thing that Kevin Rudd could do would be to back down on AWAs, to repudiate Julia Gillard, to show a bit of independence from the union movement.  That would be in Australia’s interests and I look forward to him making that reversal as soon as possible.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think the mining industry has done enough to avoid coal royalties going up, in the sense that they have allocated $1 billion towards clean coal technology over the next 10 years?  Do you think they deserve to have more royalties increase by the Queensland Government or any other State Government?

TREASURER:

Well you can dress it up this way or that way, but at the end of the day the Queensland Government is proposing to increase tax.  You can call it this or you can call it that.  It is just another tax increase from the Queensland Government.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think they deserve to be taxed more in a boom, because they are obviously making a lot of money out of the mining boom at the moment?

TREASURER:

Bear this in mind – that the Queensland Government is getting record royalties because mining at the moment is profitable, and if at a time when you are getting record royalties you also decide to increase the rate, a lot of people would say that is a bit rich.

JOURNALIST:

Did you watch the ABC drama last night on the union movement?

TREASURER:

No.

JOURNALIST:

No?

TREASURER:

Did I miss anything? Ok, thank you.