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 23/11/2007

Interview with Virginia Trioli
ABC Radio, Sydney

Friday, 23 November 2007
8.35 am

SUBJECTS: Election

TRIOLI:

Mr Costello good morning.

TREASURER:

Good morning Virginia, good to be with you.

TRIOLI:

Both Labor and Liberal insiders tell me on the quiet that if you were leading the Party, the Labor lead would be nowhere near as strong as it is right now.Is that the sense that you pick up as you travel around the country?

TREASURER:

Well as I travel around the country I talk to people about the issues.I don’t talk about myself, I talk about…

TRIOLI:

Do they raise it with you?Do they say: ‘I wish you were in charge, Mr Costello’?

TREASURER:

I talk to them about the things that concern them and the things that concern them are jobs, interest rates, business and I talk to them about policies.And I think people are very interested in the policies of the parties, they want to know how they are going to affect their future and that is what I talk to them about.

TRIOLI:


So this issue is not raised with you, you are saying?

TREASURER:

Well I discuss the substantive issues.I don’t talk about myself, Virginia.Most people are actually interested in what the chances of getting a job are, what the chances of their children getting a job are, educational opportunities and what our plans are.And I actually find a very positive response when I talk about these things.

TRIOLI:

Well the Galaxy poll in the Telegraph today has the Coalition drawing back.Do you pick up that sense in the electorate after apparently the electorate being consistently more interested in the Opposition?Do you get the sense they are coming back to you?

TREASURER:

I get the sense that people want to know where Australia will go, how the economy will be managed, what their chances of keeping their business profitable will be, what the chances of their kids getting a job will be.They want to know what the future is going to be in relation to interest rates.And as I talk to people about all of these issues, I do find that the choice is becoming clearer and it is a very, very important decision that people are weighing carefully.I do find that, yes.

TRIOLI:

So you are picking up a positive vibe towards the Coalition?

TREASURER:

Well I think that people are now thinking in the last 24 hours, it is all very well to have slogans and advertising clichés, which we have heard a lot of from Mr Rudd, but where’s the policy?And there is no real policy on the economy and I think this has been Mr Rudd’s weakness.He hasn’t ever managed a government, he has never managed significant business, he hasn’t thought carefully about economic policy and people are beginning to think, well this could be a very big risk.And I think it will be a very big risk by the way.

TRIOLI:

Well no one of course has managed a government until they get into government…

TREASURER:

Sure.

TRIOLI:

…(inaudible) government so it is an argument that takes you around in circles.

TREASURER:

No, but you can, for people who have taken part in the Parliamentary economic debates or taken part in the Budget debates, you can get a feel for whether they understand economic policy and where they stand.And this the point I would make about Mr Rudd.He has never even taken part in the economic debates in the Parliament.He hasn’t really thought about the issues.He has never made a contribution, you can search his record in the Hansard.

TRIOLI:

He has had a senior job in a state government up in Queensland and was closely involved in the management of the economy there.So it is not entirely true to say that he is devoid of any experience in that respect.

TREASURER:

Well look, again, Virginia, if the qualification for being Prime Minister or running the national economy was that you had served in a state government, you know, you would be putting Reba Meagher into Canberra or Morris Iemma or something.I would actually say when you look very closely at the record in the state Labor governments that is not a reason to put Labor in control of the Federal Government. That is a reason to make sure Labor isn’t in control of the Federal Government.And it is again, another risk, because the big risk in this election campaign is you could have one party controlling every single government in Australia and if you look at the way Labor has been running their state governments, that wouldn’t really fill you with any great confidence.

TRIOLI:

Following the Lindsay pamphlet debacle, the New South Wales branch of the Party seems to be out of control in many respects.There is a history of bogus how-to-vote cards if you believe a commentator who was speaking on the ABC yesterday who has been involved in previous Lindsay campaigns.And of course, there was the disastrous New South Wales state election result.Do you believe the branch needs to be looked at, Peter Costello?

TREASURER:

Well I believe that the people who are involved in this should be expelled and they have been…

TRIOLI:

Anything further in your view?I mean, it is a very strong contrast isn’t it, say to the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party where it seems to be a much more tightly focussed and disciplined ship?

TREASURER:

Well here is what I think.The people who did it broke the law, their behaviour was unacceptable, they should be disciplined, they have been expelled and they deserved it.And it shouldn’t have happened in the first place but I will say this for the State Director: once he became aware of it, he took all of the action that was open to him.And as far as I am concerned, this is a matter for Lindsay.Voters in Lindsay will take that into account but if I was voting in Wentworth or Eden-Monaro or Macquarie, I would be much more interested in the issues of Wentworth, Eden-Monaro, Macquarie, Page, Cowper – all of those other seats where people are much more interested in the local issues and the national issues that concern them.

TRIOLI:

The Prime Minister says you will become the next leader after he stands down in the next term if your Party wins.Are you as convinced as him that the leadership for you is a done deal?

TREASURER:

Virginia, I have been the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party for more than a decade and I have served both the Liberal Party and the Government and the people of Australia to the best of my ability.People will judge me on my record as Treasurer, they can judge me by the way in which the economy has been managed.I am very happy to be judged accordingly and in my future career I want to pledge to the Australian people that I will do whatever I can to make this a better country.That is why I am in public life, that is why I have taken the decisions that I have over the last ten years.

TRIOLI:

So are you saying there that you are pretty certain it is yours should you win and then the Prime Minister stands down?

TREASURER:

Well I would just say to people, you can judge me by my results, I have been absolutely committed to job opportunities for the Australian people and I will continue to serve them in the future.

TRIOLI:

Peter Costello, let’s see if we can catch up for a chat Monday morning, win, lose or draw, shall we?

TREASURER:

I would love to stay in contact, Virginia, yes.

TRIOLI:

Peter Costello, thanks for your time.