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 15/05/07

Interview with Richard & Sarah
Gold FM

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

8.30 am

 

SUBJECTS: General politics, polls, economy, Bond University funding announcement

SARAH:

Mr Peter Costello, hello.

RICHARD:

G’day.  (inaudible), how you going?

SARAH:

What do you want us to call you?

TREASURER:

Pete will do.

SARAH:

Pete?

TREASURER:

Yeah, fine.

SARAH:

All right, Pete.

RICHARD:

Did you go for your morning jog this morning?

TREASURER:

Yes.

RICHARD:

Whereabouts?

TREASURER:

Just down the front of Surfers Paradise and…

RICHARD:

How far did you go?

TREASURER:

Oh, 50 metres.  I ran about 50 metres and then I walked a bit and then I ran a bit more and…

RICHARD:

Is this a new thing, this fitness thing?

TREASURER:

Yes.  I have started trying to run up the top of Parliament House.  Now, that may not sound all that exciting to you but…

SARAH:

I have been to Parliament House.

TREASURER:

…it is quite a big hill.

SARAH:

Yes it is. 

TREASURER:

And…

RICHARD:

And how many times do you do it?

TREASURER:

Well, per week?

RICHARD:

(inaudible) and that is it.

TREASURER:

Well it depends if the cameras are on or off.

SARAH:

Oh, did you see yourself on the TV when they put you in slow motion running?

TREASURER:

Yes.  It wasn’t fair.  I was actually going much faster than that.

RICHARD:

Chariots of fire…

SARAH:

Chariots of fire.

TREASURER:

I did say after that, Laurie Oakes put that to air, you know Laurie Oakes?

SARAH:

Yes, yes.

TREASURER:

I have actually challenged Laurie to a race.

SARAH:

Oh I can’t imagine Laurie running.

TREASURER:

No, that is why I challenged him. 

RICHARD:

(inaudible) actually. 

SARAH:

I think he would have bigger man boobs than you would, and I mean that in a nice way.

RICHARD:

Now, is it true, we had the pleasure of having Mark Vaile in the studio a couple of months back…

SARAH:

He was nice.

RICHARD:

Yeah, he is quite nice.

TREASURER:

He is a nice man, yes.

RICHARD:

Is it true that the nickname on your side of the fence for Kevin Rudd is the ‘Milky Bar Kid?’

TREASURER:

Well I can see why it stuck.  He has the white hair and the glasses.

RICHARD:

I think he looks more like Virgil off Thunderbirds than anything.

TREASURER:

Is that right?  He has got a few nicknames. 

SARAH:

Kevin Rudd…

RICHARD:

Well hang on, I might ask (inaudible).

TREASURER:

No, I am just going to let that hang.  I am not going there. 

SARAH:

Oh, go on. 

TREASURER:

Who gave him the Milky Bar Kid, was that you?

SARAH:

No, it wasn’t us.

RICHARD:

No, it was Mark Vaile.

SARAH:

It was Mark Vaile.

TREASURER:

Is that right?

SARAH:

He told us.

RICHARD:

He says that that is what the nickname is for Kevin Rudd.

TREASURER:

Oh, okay, well, that is probably Mark’s nickname.  I have heard others.

SARAH:

Have you got another name for him?

TREASURER:

Oh no, not me. 

SARAH:

I have got to ask you about Kevin Rudd too.  I was watching a programme called the Insiders which is on the weekend on the ABC and all of the panel on there were saying that they thought that Kevin was looking a little bit tired and doing too much too soon.  Do you agree with that?

TREASURER:

Well look, when you get into politics there is a lot of work.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what your position is, if you are a leader or a Minister there is a lot of work.  So he would be doing a lot of work, there is no doubt about that.  And I think because he hasn’t got experience coming into a Budget session of course, he would have found it tough and I think that showed.  But, the public pays you for results and we do have to work hard.

SARAH:

Do you have any sympathy for him at all?

TREASURER:

Well look, I…

SARAH:

No.

TREASURER:

…I know he would have to work hard but we all have to work hard.  The public expects us to work hard and I have been doing it now for a while…

RICHARD:

11 years.

TREASURER:

…and you are expected to work hard.  There is a lot…

SARAH:

Did you ever think you were going to be the Treasurer?

TREASURER:

No.

SARAH:

Ever?

TREASURER:

No.

SARAH:

…in your whole life?  What did you want to be when you left school, when you were a little kid?  What did you…

TREASURER:

When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut.

SARAH:

Me too.

TREASURER:

Did you?

SARAH:

Yes.

TREASURER:

Really?

SARAH:

Yes.

TREASURER:

Did you take my place?

SARAH:

No, no. 

TREASURER:

Well because I was at school when they were putting the Apollos on the moon.

SARAH:

What, back in the 1920s?

TREASURER:

Yes, that’s right.  The Wright brothers first flew (inaudible), I was at school then.

SARAH:

I have been there, to Kitty Hawk. 

TREASURER:

To Kitty Hawk?

SARAH:

To Kitty Hawk (inaudible).

TREASURER:

Yes that is right. 

SARAH:

Yeah.

 TREASURER:

In the 20s.  And so they were landing on the moon when I was at school and we were all taken out to watch this landing on the moon and I thought to myself, gee that would be great, wouldn’t it, to be on the moon.  And look what happened.

SARAH:

Look at you, the Treasurer of Australia.

TREASURER:

I ended up as the Treasurer.

RICHARD:

Now look, the Budget has been flying high in other respects.  Your Budget has been very well received around the country, there has been a lot of positive spin about it, but it has not been reflected in the polls, particularly the one that has come out this morning.  What is going on?

SARAH:

But that is not a surprise though.

TREASURER:

No.  If you look back over, and I have done a few Budgets now, you generally find that a Budget is brought down, and it has got a lot in it.  It has got a lot in it about taxes and tax cuts and education investment and apprenticeships.  And people need time to assimilate that, to take into account how it is going to affect their pensions (inaudible).  And you generally find it takes, well, (inaudible) month or two.  And then, by 30 June the pensioners see the bonus and they say: ‘gee, I wonder what, where that came from,’ and tax cuts come into effect in July and people say: ‘that is nice, a little bit more money to help with the bills.’  So, it is not instantaneous and I think you will find that people look at the Budget, they think about what is in it for the country and investment, that they form an opinion over a period of time. 

RICHARD:

When you become Prime Minister, who will be the Treasurer?

TREASURER:

Well, there’s a lot of ‘ifs’ in there.  I won’t go there.

SARAH:

Well you know, we should ask the question, ‘would you like to be Prime Minister?’

TREASURER:

Oh look, at the moment I am very happy doing what I am doing.  I have been doing it for a while and I will make sure that I do it to the best of my ability for the Australian people.

RICHARD:

Can I just ask quickly, there has been an increase of people defaulting on their mortgages and now we have got great labour results in the workforce with the unemployment, I think it is the best since 1974?

TREASURER:

‘74, yes.

RICHARD:

Which is putting a lot of pressure on the economy though.

TREASURER:

It was well before you were born.

SARAH:

Well, I was born in 1979.

RICHARD:

Yes, of course you were Sarah.

TREASURER:

Yes, of course so it is the lowest unemployment since before Sarah was born.

SARAH:

Yes, exactly.

RICHARD:

A lot of pressure on the economy though for maybe another rate increase by the end of the year or early next year.  Are you worried about what has happened in the United States and they have had a number of these mortgage brokers that have all appeared here in Australia, defaulting and actually collapsing?  Are you worried about that here in Australia?

TREASURER:

Well there has been…

RICHARD:

What do they call them?  The no-doc home loans.

TREASURER:

Yes sub prime loans.  There has been large default in the United States and that is of concern to the Americans.  The default rate in Australia is much, much lower that it is in the United States.  In fact, we have one of the lowest default rates in the world.  But we do watch what happens in the American economy, it is the world’s biggest economy and it can have effects here and we do like to keep an eye on the international developments.  But the important thing for us really, is to keep inflation low, keep prices down, make sure that we run strong economic management and that will be consistent with keeping people in jobs and people in homes and businesses successful.  That is what we like to see.

SARAH:

I was talking to a lady yesterday, fact or fiction, you drive a Mercedes Benz?

TREASURER:

Fiction.

SARAH:

Really?  Okay, she will be happy about that.  Bloody Peter Costello, what would he know, he drives a Mercedes…

TREASURER:

Is that what she said?

SARAH:

That is what she said, yeah.  So what do you drive?  Or do you have a driver?

TREASURER:

I have, there is a government issued car which is a Holden.

SARAH:

Yep.

TREASURER:

And I have a private car and it is a 1990 Mazda 626.

SARAH:

You do not.

TREASURER:

I do.

SARAH:

That is embarrassing to admit, isn’t it?

TREASURER:

Well it is in good condition.

RICHARD:

And it is 1990?

TREASURER:

Yes.

SARAH:

(inaudible).

TREASURER:

Well it is in good condition, I want you to know that.

SARAH:

What colour is it again?

TREASURER:

Silver.

SARAH:

Oh, beautiful.

TREASURER:

Well when it had duco, it was silver, it has faded a little bit now.

SARAH:

Now while you are on the Coast today, are you going to be visiting Bond Uni?

TREASURER:

Yes.  We are going to Bond University because I am going to announce that Bond is receiving $2½ million to establish a Clinical Education and Research Centre on the grounds of Queensland Health Robina Hospital.  And this will be great for them and of course the facilities will be shared with students at the Gold Coast Institute of Tafe and Griffith University.  So it is a good education announcement for the Coast, here. 

RICHARD:

And the Federal Election will be coming up exactly when?

TREASURER:

Oh I would say about six months. 

SARAH:

About six months.

RICHARD:

Because you can’t have it in October because we have got the Indy Weekend.

TREASURER:

That is true.

RICHARD:

You can’t have it in August because we have got the Ekka Brisbane and Gold Coast Show.

TREASURER:

And then we have got the football finals in September.  So, I am (inaudible)…

RICHARD:

Maybe November.

TREASURER:

We have got to get in before Christmas and so if it is not…

SARAH:

Right.  You don’t know, do you?

TREASURER:

So if it is not in August, September, October and it is before December.  Mmm, let me think about that.

SARAH:

Well, thanks for confusing all of us.  Well look, it been lovely catching up.  You are doing a lunch and everything here…

TREASURER:

Yes, I am doing a lunch while I am here to support Margaret May and Steve Ciobo – great, fantastic Members of Parliament here. 

SARAH:

Yeah.

TREASURER:

We are going out to Bond University and generally enjoying and lapping up the sunshine.

SARAH:

Now, before I let you go, I want to put something to you.  You are in a plane, because you want to be an astronaut, right so you are in the plane, you can be wearing whatever you like.  On that plane – forget pilots and everything – you are on the plane, there is three of you: you, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.  There are two parachutes, one for you – who would you give the other one to?

RICHARD:

Oh, the plane is crashing, is it Sarah?

SARAH:

Yeah, the plane is crashing.  Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd, which one?

TREASURER:

The plane is crashing, there are two parachutes…

SARAH:

You have got one.

TREASURER:

It is me, Julia and Kevin.  You know what I would do?

SARAH:

I don’t know. 

TREASURER:

I would jump out.

SARAH:

You are too funny, you should be on stage. 

TREASURER:

Oh well, that is my next career.

SARAH:

(inaudible) stand up comedian.  Well Mr Costello, Peter sorry, lovely catching up again and I hope you have fun here on the Gold Coast. 

TREASURER:

Thank you very much.  It is great to be here.