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

Doorstop Interview
Precision Group International
Nunawading, Victoria

Friday, 23 November 2007
11. 25 am

SUBJECTS: Sensis small business survey, election

TREASURER:

It is good to be here today at Precision Circuits which is a manufacturing company here in the electorate of Deakin. I am here with my good friend Phil Barresi. This is a successful business, employing 50 people and in fact, exporting around the world. And we have seen small business prosper under the economic settings of this Government over the last 10 years.

The Sensis Business survey, which has been released today, the most extensive small business survey that is done in Australia, records a huge drop in business confidence. According to Sensis, we have never seen such a dramatic one-quarter fall in confidence in the 14 years Sensis has been tracking small business. One-third of small and medium businesses are worried about their business prospects because of a potential change of government.

Now the fact that small business has had a big drop in confidence about a potential change in government should worry every Australian. Because if small business isn’t strong, employment won’t be strong. And this survey shows that the thing that worries small business more than any other is Labor going back on industrial relations, re-introducing the job destroying unfair dismissal laws and as a consequence, exposing small business to potential law suits which makes them very employment shy.

My message to Australians is this: that small business confidence is falling on the prospect of a Labor election. If small business confidence falls employment will fall. And if employment falls, that puts at risk opportunities for young Australians in the future. We need competent, sensible economic management, we need to build the small business sector in this country. We have seen 280,000 new jobs created over the last 12 months and 98 per cent of them were full-time.

Don’t go back. Don’t go back to unemployment, don’t rock business confidence and don’t put at risk businesses, mortgages and employment prospects in the future.

JOURNALIST:

Are there other factors at work here though, Treasurer? Uncertainty over global economic markets that might be contributing to a downturn in business confidence?

TREASURER:

Well I think people will be worried about uncertainty in international markets. But according to Sensis, which is the most extensive survey of small business, business confidence has fallen – the greatest fall they have ever measured. And it is concern about a return to a Labor government and what that means for their prospects in the future. And if business confidence turns down, then employment will turn down.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello, what did you think of Julia Gillard’s comments yesterday, or concession that casual workers won’t be protected from unfair dismissal?

TREASURER:

Well the most important point I would make about the last 12 months under the Government’s industrial relations changes is it has led to an increase in full-time employment. 280,000 new jobs in the last year, 98 per cent of them full-time. And let me tell you why small business is creating full-time jobs. Small business has the confidence to offer people full-time jobs under the industrial relations system as it stands now. If you go back to a situation where small business can be held to ransom by unfair dismissal laws, they will go back to offering casual jobs because they will not want to put themselves at risk of legal action. And what we have seen in Australia is not just an increase in jobs, what we have seen in Australia is an increase in full-time jobs over the last couple of years and that is as a consequence of better industrial relations laws.

JOURNALIST:

Who do you think has won the campaign and who do you think will win tomorrow night?

TREASURER:

I don’t feel any need to go into the prediction business about tomorrow because by tomorrow night, we will all know the result. But I do want to say to Australians, before you vote, think carefully. Think carefully about the prospects of business because they will govern the prospects for employment. Employment is the opportunity for young Australians. Think carefully about your business, job and your mortgage before you cast your ballot tomorrow.

JOURNALIST:

How damaging has the campaign fraud been in Lindsay?

TREASURER:

Well I don’t approve of what has been done in Lindsay and I am sure voters in Lindsay will take that into account. But I think for voters in Deakin, or voters in La Trobe or voters in McMillan or voters in Higgins or voters in Victoria, they will be thinking about the issues that concern them. Their businesses, their jobs, their mortgages. That is what is on the line tomorrow and that ought to be the thing that they are thinking about carefully as they go to make their decision.

JOURNALIST:

Two polls out this morning Treasurer, telling very different stories. Do you take heart from the Galaxy figures and can 48 per cent get you over the line?

TREASURER:

Well the polls are going in all sorts of different directions but we don’t have to waste too much time worrying about them because we will have the result within in 24 hours, or a little over 24 hours. I don’t waste my time looking at polls the day before an election because when the election is over I will know what the poll has delivered. I just want to say to Australian people as they think carefully over the next 12 hours before the opening of ballot boxes on Saturday morning, think carefully about the consequences for our country, for their business, for their mortgage, for their job.

JOURNALIST:

What sort of a campaign do you think John Howard has had?

TREASURER:

I think it has been a campaign where we have put a plan before the Australian people, a plan for tax reform, a plan to help pensioners and self-funded retirees, a plan to build 100 new technical schools, a plan which will make our economy stronger and a plan which will take Australia further in the future with job opportunities for all. Let me make it clear, there is only one side of politics that is talking about employment in this campaign and that is the Liberal and National parties. We are talking about employment because we think the most decent thing you can do for people is give them a job.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Barresi, we are standing in Victoria’s most marginal Liberal held electorate. How are you feeling a day out? Are you confident?

BARRESI:

I am feeling confident. It is a hard task in Deakin, it is a marginal seat but I am confident the electors of Deakin take into consideration the economic performance of the government over the last 12 years and more importantly, the future plans for economic growth and jobs growth in this country. And that is what is really important to me and the people in my electorate.

JOURNALIST:

And who do you think should lead the Liberal Party in the future if you do lose tomorrow?

TREASURER:

We are not thinking about losing tomorrow, let me assure you of that.

BARRESI:

Let’s win the election tomorrow.

TREASURER:

Okay, thanks very much.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello, just on radio this morning…

TREASURER:

Last question.

JOURNALIST:

…Jeff Kennett said that, he predicted that if you are beaten comprehensively, you won’t become leader, ever. What do you make of that?

TREASURER:

I have long given up commenting on Jeff Kennett. Thank you.