11 March 1996 - 3 December 2007
Gold Coast International Hotel
Tuesday, 15 May, 2007
SUBJECTS: Telstra, Newspoll, Budget
Mr Costello, to start with, the full page advertising by Telstra today threatening to take their investment overseas if they can’t get their broadband rolled out. What is your reaction to that?
Well Telstra is advertising its case, which is to be able to charge a higher fee for competitors who use the network. The competitors are advertising their case, which is that they want to ensure there are cheaper prices for consumers. Here you have two commercial parties – Telstra and the G9 - which are advertising against each other. I don’t mind seeing that in a competitive economy. As far as I am concerned however, the most important thing are the consumers. And I want to see consumers get the best price possible.
What is your reaction to today’s Newspoll saying that post-Budget, nothing has changed?
Well when we bring down a Budget what we are focusing on is what will create economic opportunity for Australians. What will keep people in jobs, what will keep them in their houses, what will make their businesses continue to trade on a profitable basis, how we can invest for the future. That is the focus and you have got to judge a Budget by what it will do for economic opportunity in Australia.
Are you disappointed that the Newspoll also showed that Labor had its best result, as far as an alternative Budget was concerned, in the last 10 years?
Well, I look at substance. I think the important thing in political life is substance and when you cut through Mr Rudd’s economic policy, it is pretty thin. It has got no depth to it, it is not thought out, it is not properly costed. And I think over time people will look more at substance than at gloss, slick advertising slogans. And so they should, and I am looking for substance. I don’t think Mr Rudd had it in his Budget Reply. And I would invite the Australian public to look for substance in the Budget, which I think will set Australia up for decades to come.
Do you think he is an economic conservative?
Well, whatever Mr Rudd is, he is not an economic conservative and he is not an economic reformer. He opposed the measures which were required to balance the Budget, to pay off debt. He is proposing to raid superannuation savings something which no State Opposition Leader or Premier in the country would have considered. And he wants to turn the clock back on industrial relations. Now, I don’t know what all of that adds up to but it doesn’t add up to the record of an economic reformer or an economic conservative. And I assume that the reason he is now advertising along those lines is his pollsters have told them that is what the public want to hear. But just because you have an advertisement, just because you have a slick PR man telling you what to say, that doesn’t give you the substance. The way you demonstrate you are an economic conservative is by taking hard decisions. And when he had the opportunity to do that he never backed the Government on hard decisions.
Would you have expected some sort of a swing in today’s Newspoll following the Budget?
TREASURER:Budgets are brought down with an eye to the future of the country. They are not brought down for short-term reasons. I am looking at where the country has to be in decades to come. That is my focus and that is what the Budget was designed to do. Okay, thanks.