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 12/10/2007

Interview with Jon Faine
774 ABC


Friday, 12 October 2007

8.40 am

SUBJECTS: Aboriginal reconciliation

FAINE:

Peter Costello good morning. 

TREASURER:

Good morning Jon.  Good to be with you. 

FAINE:

This has got your fingerprints all over it. 

TREASURER:

Look, I think it is a great announcement.  I think it is providing a way forward to develop reconciliation and I think there is a lot of goodwill in the Australian community to get reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.  And I think this is an opportunity to grasp the issue and to take it forward and I hope it meets with widespread approval from the public. 

FAINE:

Clichés aside, you didn’t answer my question.  Have you had a say in this?

TREASURER:

Well this is John Howard’s announcement and he…

FAINE:

Did you give…?

TREASURER:

Jon, I have always supported reconciliation, you know that. 

FAINE:

You marched in Melbourne historically. 

TREASURER:

And when the opportunity came to show my personal support for reconciliation I did.  You know that.  So I have always believed that it is important that we deal with these issues and that Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians show goodwill towards each other.  So that has always been my view and I think this announcement from John Howard is something that provides a very good path forward to demonstrate that. 

FAINE:

I won’t ask you a third time, we will just have to accept that you are not specifically addressing my question.  But Peter Costello, John Howard on AM this morning speaking to Chris Uhlmann, our chief political correspondent, said middle Australia wants this.  Is that what your polling is now telling you?

TREASURER:

I haven’t seen any polling on this issue.  But from the people I talk to, I think that there is a desire for goodwill between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.  There are some that don’t feel that way, some that don’t feel that way on both sides.  There are some white Australians that are very prejudicial towards Aboriginal people, there are some Aboriginal people who are very angry at white Australians.  There are people on both sides that don’t share that goodwill.  But my impression is that the overwhelming majority of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people want to see an Australia which gives due recognition to the Aboriginal people; which acknowledges that they were the first people in Australia and does something to improve standards of education, health and living.  And I think if we can find it in our hearts on both sides to express that in a positive way, we can move things forward. 

FAINE:

Pauling Hanson is running for the Senate in Queensland.  Does this help her get quota?

TREASURER:

Well, there will be some people who will use this as a political issue to their benefit.  I don’t know about her but undoubtedly there will be some people.  But if I am right and if the majority of Australians have goodwill in their hearts and want to see us move forward on this issue, then hopefully the election won’t give those voices too much prominence. 

FAINE:

But it doesn’t make sense to those Australians who for 11 years, have relied on the Prime Minister not to go down the path of what they regard as the black armband view, or the bleeding heart or the city-centric view.  They are going to feel betrayed this morning, aren’t they, Peter Costello?

TREASURER:

Well my view is that in politics, in a country, in life, you try and move forward.  And I think this is something that Australia has moved forward on.  If you go back to the ‘50s and the ‘60s the attitudes were very different.  We are now 2007, I think Australia has moved on.  You see it everywhere.  You see it in culture, you see it in music, you see it in sport, the prominence that successful Aboriginal people are now given, the recognition that they are given and I think that the majority of Australians believe that it is time to give Aboriginal people recognition as the first Australians. 

FAINE:

Thank you for your time this morning, Peter Costello, Federal Treasurer.