Peter Costello

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ALP School Policy; Pauline Hanson - Interview with Ross Warneke, Radio 3AW

TRANSCRIPT

THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
TREASURER

Interview with Ross Warneke
3AW

Tuesday, 15 September 2004
5.35 pm

 

SUBJECTS: ALP School Policy; Pauline Hanson

WARNEKE:

Okay, Labor's Education Policy, one person I thought we should speak to, mainly because his electorate covers a lot of the suburbs which I assume are a pretty good catchment area for students at a lot of the 32 Victorian schools chopped off at the socks yesterday by Mark Latham is Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello. Treasurer good afternoon.

TREASURER:

Good afternoon Ross.

WARNEKE:

A lot of your constituents would be affected by this?

TREASURER:

Oh sure. A lot of the constituents have been singled out for attack by Labor and there are a number of schools in my electorate such as Korowa and Lauriston, St Catherine's, that Labor has targeted for special punishment. So it is a very big issue for my electorate. Labor would obviously think that this is clever politics because they think that getting division and envy going between schools might win them a few cheap votes but I have got to say, it is one of the most short-sighted policies I have ever seen in my life.

WARNEKE:

Well I have got to say I opened the programme at four o'clock by saying that just by listening to talkback callers on this radio station in the past 24 hours, including yesterday afternoon when I first raised it, very few people are supporting Labor, even people who have kids at State schools. They are seeing through it.

TREASURER:

Well, let me make this point, it costs on average $9,000 to fund a government school place and $2,500 for one of these so-called “high fee schools”. Right?

WARNEKE:

Hmm.

TREASURER:

So if by pushing up the fees one student has to leave one of those “high fee schools” that will cost the taxpayer, cost the taxpayer, $6,500.

WARNEKE:

Yeah.

TREASURER:

If that child comes out of the high, so-called “high fee school” and into a government school the Labor Party doesn't save money, that costs $6,500. This is the whole point that these schools are getting very much smaller contributions from the taxpayer and Mum and Dad are making up the difference with the fee. If Mum and Dad stop making up the difference with the fee and they go back into a government place it will cost the taxpayer money.

WARNEKE:

Hmm.

TREASURER:

The taxpayer will have to fully fund the whole cost of that student's place in the government sector. So you know, not only is this shocking envy politics it is shocking economics.

WARNEKE:

Yeah. A lot of people have made the point, too, Treasurer, families just having a baby for example, normally you try and enrol them in a private school if you wanted them to go to Scotch or somewhere like that. With this hanging over the horizon they might say, no we are not going to send them to a private school in five years when they turn five years old. They are going to go to a Government school thank you. So five years down the track this could cost a fortune.

TREASURER:

Oh this will end up, in my view, costing a lost of money if it gets introduced. Now the other thing that really, really gets me about this is they say that the schools that they have singled out for punishment are those schools which have resources over $12,000. So you would think wouldn't you it is just a simple matter of going through the schools and finding out those schools that have fees over $12,000, but there are schools that have fees over $12,000 who somehow don't seem to fall under this policy. There were a few schools that if you just say everybody above $12,000 is on their list and loses its funding, there would be a few schools that should be on the hit list but aren't.

WARNEKE:

Hmm.

TREASURER:

And for example the Mount Scopus College is one of those.

WARNEKE:

Yes we were talking to Michael Danby half an hour ago…

TREASURER:

Yeah.

WARNEKE:

…who was trying to explain why they've been excluded.

TREASURER:

Yeah, why they've been excluded. Now why should they have been excluded?

WARNEKE:

Because they have a lot of migrant children apparently and more than 30 per cent of their kids are helped to go to the school in some way.

TREASURER:

Well let me take Mr Danby down to some of these other schools that have a lot of migrant children and also have discounts for siblings and also have scholarship programmes. You see, that's what Labor says, oh when they're confronted with this weakness in their policy, you know, what about the schools that you haven't put on your list. Oh they say, they have scholarship programmes or they have migrants. They have no idea what the scholarship programmes and the migrants are at these other 67 schools that are on the hit list because they never asked. They never asked. You know, what happened was they got caught out, you know, there were certain targets that they wanted to play envy politics on and then there were certain targets that they were too afraid to play envy targets on and so they excluded those targets. And when somebody makes the point, well how did some get in the target list and not, oh the explanation is migrants and scholarship programmes and the like. But they have never surveyed these schools. They don't know what schools have scholarship programmes. They don't know what schools have migrants and if they actually had got to the bottom of all of that they would have found out that they all have them to various degrees.

WARNEKE:

Treasurer you have got more resources than I have to analyse Labor's policy but it does strike me, at least on the surface, that they are talking about taking $520 million off 67 private schools and re-distributing it to 2,500 other private schools.

TREASURER:

Hmm.

WARNEKE:

In fact they are not, apparently only $380 million of it is going to be re-distributed. What is happening to the other $140 million I wonder?

TREASURER:

Well, I don't know. That seems to be diving into a black hole somewhere.

WARNEKE:

And the other thing is they are not actually increasing spending on private schools.

TREASURER:

No they are not, no they are not. Now you take that $380 million and you distribute it around 2,400 schools. You know, how much difference do you think that is going to make?

WARNEKE:

Well I worked it out, it is about $80 per student.

TREASURER:

Yes. How much difference is that going to make? Hardly any difference. No, this is not actually being done to try and give a benefit to somebody. This is being done because somebody has decided it is very clever envy politics to name 67 targets and to put them out there. This is designed to appeal to the Labor heartland Ross. What this is all about is it's so that Labor Members of Parliament can go down to the local ALP branch meeting and say, oh we have decided to really give it to the people we hate in life, and then as I said, I want to play envy politics on certain sectors of Australian society but they have excluded other sectors of Australian society from envy politics. And you know, you have just got to look down this list to find out how it was done. The Catholic schools were quarantined, the Jewish schools were quarantined, Western Australia was quarantined, you know, there are schools in Western Australia that have resources over $12,000…

WARNEKE:

Oh, they must have a lot of migrant students.

TREASURER:

Sure to, aren't they?

WARNEKE:

Yeah.

TREASURER:

But Western Australia surprisingly enough got quarantined.

WARNEKE:

Yeah.

TREASURER:

No school in Western Australia got named. So all they did was they named schools in New South Wales and Victoria. They had two from South Australia on their list. They quarantined Western Australia, they left out the Catholic schools, they excluded the Jewish schools and they said now let's play envy politics on the rest.

WARNEKE:

Can I ask you a quick question before I let you go? Pauline Hanson has announced that she is going to run as an Independent for the Senate. What do you reckon?

TREASURER:

Well, she will actually be running against One Nation…

WARNEKE:

Yeah.

TREASURER:

…up there in Queensland because One Nation has a Senate Seat. I wouldn't have expected One Nation to do well in Queensland. I think that there would probably be some residual sentiment for Pauline Hanson but you have got to remember this, she ran in the New South Wales election in the last New South Wales election and didn't get elected. I always thought that's a funny thing isn't it, last State election she was trying to represent New South Wales. This Federal election she is (inaudible) a Queenslander so there you go.

WARNEKE:

Yeah. All right.

TREASURER:

It proves you can be quite mobile about these things.

WARNEKE:

She certainly is. She is one of the celebrities in Channel Seven's new Ballroom Dancing Show.

TREASURER:

Well, all I can say Ross is she would probably do a better job than I would do at ballroom dancing.

WARNEKE:

Oh really. Okay good to talk to you.

TREASURER:

Good to speak to you. Thanks very much.

15 Sep 2004

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