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 04/10/2007

Doorstop Interview
Brisbane Convention Centre

Thursday, 4 October 2007
2.20 pm

SUBJECTS: Election ‘07, Trade Practices Act, childcare

TREASURER:

…facilities like childcare, help them to get into the workforce and I think we have the ability to absorb many more people.

JOURNALIST:

But do you think Australians have really changed from being lazy as you say?

TREASURER:

Oh yes. That stereotype of Australians being beach lovers who are always looking for the long weekend, that went out of date 10 or 20 years ago. Australians are very entrepreneurial, hardworking people. We have the largest share ownership, proportion of share ownership, in the world. And we are hard working people, and we are productive people, and this country has changed an awful lot since the 1960s.

JOURNALIST:

The issues you have spoken about today – education, water, climate change – are those the issues that you want to stake your job description as you (inaudible) for the next Prime Ministership?

TREASURER:

I am intensely committed to education. To improving technical education, literacy and numeracy in primary schools and secondary schools, and building infrastructure for tertiary education – which we have begun with our Endowment Fund, the Higher Education Endowment Fund. We need the finances for our water problems and we need to deal with climate change. And we can do that from the base of a strong economy.

JOURNALIST:

But are they the issues that if you become the Prime Minister, they will be your pet issues?

TREASURER:

These are the issues that I think are the long-term issues for Australia. These are the issues that I dedicate myself to working on and to solve.

JOURNALIST:

The Woolies chief executive said yesterday at the National Press Club that he was concerned about the new predatory pricing laws may actually drive prices up and he was trying to get clarification from the Government in relation to that. What is your response?

TREASURER:

I don’t think they will, obviously. And the Government wouldn’t have passed the amendments if we did. And I think if you have a look at what the laws say, they say that you can’t price with the purpose of restricting competition. And properly understood, anyone who does price in order to restrict competition should run foul of the law.

JOURNALIST:

But he was seeking clarifications on what the definition of a substantial market share is and he said he hadn’t heard anything from you or the Government.

TREASURER:

Well I think it is perfectly obvious. It is a substantial market share.

JOURNALIST:

On the issue of childcare, what are these calls for it to be made fully tax deductible?

TREASURER:

Well at the moment the Government has a childcare benefit which is paid directly to the childcare centres and reduces the price to parents. Parents are eligible to get a 30 per cent rebate on the balance that they pay. Now, for 95 per cent of Australian parents that is a better system than tax deductibility. If you introduced tax deductibility they would be worse off than the current system so who would want to do that. The system gives you 30 per cent rebate, which is better than or equivalent to tax deductibility for the overwhelming majority of Australians.

JOURNALIST:

Are you looking at other means to take back, minimise the burden of childcare payments before the election?

TREASURER:

Well we have just brought forward this 30 per cent rebate and we will see how that goes. Thanks very much.