Peter Costello

Media Transcripts

Economic Management; Interest Rates; Election - Interview with Dwayne and Sarah, Radio 2GO

TRANSCRIPT

THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
TREASURER

Interview with Dwayne and Sarah
2GO

Tuesday, 7 September 2004
8.30 am

 

SUBJECTS: Economic Management; Interest Rates; Election

JOURNALIST:

Let me introduce you to Peter Costello, the Federal Treasurer, you may have seen him around. You will certainly see him around the Coast today. Welcome.

TREASURER:

It is great to be here Dwayne. Thank you very much for your warm welcome and the cup of tea.

JOURNALIST:

We let you had a rip at the Birthday Balls. No luck with the money?

TREASURER:

 I have got my eye on one. I am told you win $10,000.

JOURNALIST:

Yeah.

TREASURER:

Is that right?

JOURNALIST:

It needs to be the one with your birthday on it. You realise that?

TREASURER:

Well, my birthday can be moved.

JOURNALIST:

Now look, before we start, where's the plate of sandwiches?

JOURNALIST:

Oh yeah.

JOURNALIST:

You guys in the back there, don't be sitting there grinning. We had a request this morning at five o'clock. Surely you were listening. And we thought you guys could bring in maybe a tray of assorted sandwiches?

JOURNALIST:

The Minister is going to be deeply upset now.

TREASURER:

Well they were listening at the time…

JOURNALIST:

And?

TREASURER:

…they just forgot on the way down.

JOURNALIST:

There is so much to remember isn't there?

TREASURER:

There is so much to remember. They get up every morning at 5am and listen to the Wake Up Club.

JOURNALIST:

Of course they do.

TREASURER:

Of course they do. Go on, both of you…

JOURNALIST:

Go on, off you go…

JOURNALIST:

You're fired.

TREASURER:

You're fired. Go and find those sandwiches.

JOURNALIST:

See you later lads. Don't come back until you have got the job in hand.

JOURNALIST:

So what's on today? Tell us what's happening.

TREASURER:

Well here on the Coast campaigning with Ken Ticehurst and also with Jimmy Lloyd. So I am going to go around to some factories and meet some people who are engaged in local employment and local business and launch the campaign for Jim Lloyd later in the afternoon.

JOURNALIST:

You guys have made a big deal about the prospect of Labor becoming the “rulers of the country” so to speak, screwing it up so badly we are going to see a revision of eighties interest rates and what not…

TREASURER:

Hmm.

JOURNALIST:

…let's assume that in that there is a tacit promise and obligation if you will that you won't let it happen. How can you promise that?

TREASURER:

Well look at our record. I have been the Treasurer for the last eight and a half years, over that time interest rates came down from double figures, they are now down around 7 per cent. This has been the lowest sustained period of interest rates for decades and if we did it over the last eight and a half years there is every reason to believe that we have got the experience and the management to keep it going, which we will.

JOURNALIST:

How much of that is good fortune given that the rest of the world isn't in a tremendously bad, or certainly our major trading partners aren't in as tremendously bad a position as you could argue they were when we had high teens as interest rates?

TREASURER:

Well actually it has been a very difficult period for economic management the last eight years. We had an economic crisis in Asia, we had an American recession, we had the worst drought in 100 years, we had SARS, we had September the 11th. I mean this has been a very difficult period for economic management. If you compare it with the late eighties, that was a great time to be in Government because Asia was booming, there was no such thing as the East Asian financial crisis or SARS or anything else. So it has been a really hard period for economic management but the runs are on the board and I think the team is experienced enough to keep that management going. But I really worry if you get somebody who doesn't have any experience in economic management that they won't be up to it.

JOURNALIST:

So you are willing, a few years hence, and interest rates should go up, to promise here and now with the Wake Up Club that you won't be saying well you know America's interest rates are a disaster and the oil price is now over $80 a barrel and you won't be using any of those as…?

TREASURER:

Oh look, I think the best indication is to look at our record. Our record speaks for itself. It is there. There is eight and a half years of the record and compare that with the record of Labor. You know, anybody can say, and I know Mr Latham signs a piece of cardboard and he says, look see that will keep interest rates low.

JOURNALIST:

You love that don't you.

TREASURER:

He got this big piece of cardboard that he pulls out and he put his signature, see that will keep interest rates low. And what I say is it is not a question of signing cardboard, the most important indicator is the record. And the record is there. It is there for everybody to see and you can compare and contrast it with previous government, the Labor Government, or you can compare it and contrast it with other Governments through the same period and Australia's economy has been pretty strongly managed over the last eight years.

JOURNALIST:

When are you going to be the leader?

TREASURER:

Well I am very happy being the Treasurer.

JOURNALIST:

You say that all the time. Now come on (inaudible). This is the Wake Up Club here.

JOURNALIST:

At least use different words.

JOURNALIST:

Come on, you are sitting next to us.

TREASURER:

No you have always got to use the same words…

JOURNALIST:

You do. I have noticed.

TREASURER:

If you differ from this bit or that bit or have a full stop in a different spot they say 'oh very significant'.

JOURNALIST:

So why don't you go for the 'as long as my party wants me to be'?

TREASURER:

Well that is another good one, yes, yeah. How does that one go again?

JOURNALIST:

You have heard it before I am sure. So would you go to bed at night, 'cos you are in bed before, you know, the late night telly gets on and you have a good nights sleep, 10-12 hours apparently…

TREASURER:

I have to go to bed early so I can get up to listen to the Wake Up Club…

JOURNALIST:

Listen to the Wake Up Club.

TREASURER:

…at 5am.

JOURNALIST:

Excellent. So you…

TREASURER:

That's what you told me to say anyway.

JOURNALIST:

Well done. The money (inaudible) arrive. The deal, you know in that quiet moment, that gap between slumber and alertness that most of us spend our days in here at the Wake Up Club, do you not dream of unlocking the Lodge and going 'you beauty'. 'Open the curtains love, we're home'.

TREASURER:

What I worry about is how we are going to get through the next Budget or how we are going to get through the next policy. It is not a quiet time between sleep and slumber, it is a frantic time between sleep and slumber.

JOURNALIST:

So looking past the election, what are you most worried about now then?

TREASURER:

Well I am obviously worried about keeping good Government going. If there is a change of Government I would be very worried. I am genuinely very worried about that. I think a lot of the great steps forward that we have made could be easily lost and that is why I think it is important that we keep good management going. You know, it is not an accident that employment is strong or that interest rates are low or that the Budget is balanced. It does take a lot of work you know. It does take an awful amount of work. And having put all of those hours and all of those years into doing it I know just how easily it could slip away if you had inexperience or you had bad policy. So I really do believe it is very important what the outcome of the election is.

JOURNALIST:

Let's have a look then at what you are going to be covering today. First of all let's look at Medicare just quickly. Yesterday both Parties were on the health trail and they were hammering and tonging away madly and it comes out that you guys are spending a few billion dollars more over a given period than Labor has pledged. Where are you getting that money from?

TREASURER:

Oh it is one of the benefits of strong economic management that if you can grow your economy, as we have in recent years, and if you can get your Budget back in order, as we have, because we have now got it into surplus - it used to be in deficit under the Labor Government - then you have the ability to make better investments which you saw some of the benefits of yesterday.

JOURNALIST:

So if you lose this next election that money will be there for Labor to use?

TREASURER:

I can't make any promises as to what would happen if Labor got into Office. Nobody knows. And there won't be anyone around to supervise it. You know, I won't be in a position to supervise the economy nor will John Howard. I mean, you will be flying by the seat of your pants with Mark Latham.

JOURNALIST:

But you will leave a post-it note or something on the table?

JOURNALIST:

Or is it sabotage, I am not telling you where anything is.

JOURNALIST:

Taken all of the letters and (inaudible) Latham out of his keyboard. Okay…

TREASURER:

Well he will be on his own.

JOURNALIST:

Okay…

JOURNALIST:

Well I am sure he hopes he will be.

JOURNALIST:

He is not going to want you hiding in the broom closet.

TREASURER:

He might need a few colleagues.

JOURNALIST:

Share with me then the biggest issue in your mind for this election outside of the mud-throwing that is 'don't trust them with your interest rates'. You guys are betting on the trustworthy thing I see. Everybody is betting trustworthy but every piece of, you know, analysis I see in the press certainly is registering other things as aside from trustworthiness. Does that not play on your mind?

TREASURER:

Well you asked me what I think the biggest issue is, I think it is the economy. Because if you don't have a growing economy and you don't have people in work then you won't have the capacity to run a good health system or a good educational system or a strong defence or better roads, all of the things that we want as a society. It has all got to come from somewhere. You know this just doesn't drop out of the sky this stuff, the money for the hospitals or the schools or the roads. A country has got to earn them. Your economy has to support them. And if you can't keep your economy running well everything else just falls apart. That's why I think that is the key issue of this election.

JOURNALIST:

What does the family say?

TREASURER:

My family?

JOURNALIST:

I mean you have got a brother who is very high profile when it comes to helping those who are doing it really tough…

TREASURER:

Yeah.

JOURNALIST:

You get together with a barbie with Tim…

TREASURER:

Yeah.

JOURNALIST:

…sit you down and go now Peter sit down, shut up and listen up. What goes on at those barbeques?

TREASURER:

Oh they are very, very good barbeques. A lot of fun. We are quite a close family.

JOURNALIST:

Yeah.

TREASURER:

And we agree on a lot. We don't agree on everything but what family does? In fact it would be pretty boring if everybody agreed on everything. So no, we have a good time. And my only regret is that I don't spend enough time with the family.

JOURNALIST:

That's a legacy isn't it, of the job.

TREASURER:

Yes.

JOURNALIST:

Do you and John Howard agree on most things?

TREASURER:

Most things. Not everything.

JOURNALIST:

When was the last time you didn't agree on something?

TREASURER:

Oh, we would disagree on policy matters from time to time. Not very often, but we do, we hammer them out in the Cabinet.

JOURNALIST:

Does anyone get like the “cats bums” after it is all finished? Is there any of that? Is there any, 'oh god you know I really can't handle him today I am just staying away'? That kind of thing.

TREASURER:

Well what is the “cats bums”?

JOURNALIST:

Well this. (purses lips) It doesn't work on radio. But you know…

JOURNALIST:

If you were a fan of the Wake Up Club you were familiar with it. If you were up at five o'clock in the morning…

TREASURER:

I would know what the “cats bums” is. Okay I am sorry. You know, when you are in Government, there is the Cabinet right which makes the decisions. I think there are about 15 or 16 people in the Cabinet. They discuss issues, not everybody agrees but you hammer it out and once a decision has been taken everybody supports it. That is the way it works and look in politics you lose as many as you win. So there is no point in getting the “cats bums”. You will be back next week.

JOURNALIST:

Use “cats bums” next time you are talking to Laurie Oakes will you? I want to see…

TREASURER:

He might get that with me?

JOURNALIST:

He probably would. And that would be a whopping “cats bum”.

JOURNALIST:

Peter Costello our time is almost up. Thanks for dropping by. I know that you had other stuff that you needed to take care of and you made some time for us.

JOURNALIST:

Hang on, hang on I just wanted to throw a bid towards his way. Maybe we can ask for a bid after this.

JOURNALIST:

Yesterday Mark Latham put some of his hard-earned on the table for the charity that we are supporting right now which is Give Me Five for Kids. It is actually our charity.

TREASURER:

Right.

JOURNALIST:

And I know that you love all things health, thus Medicare yesterday.

TREASURER:

Yes.

JOURNALIST:

So every year we raise money for the Children's wards at Wyong and Gosford Hospitals who really are doing it tough some times and Mr Latham opened bidding for the Wake Up Club to have us for the day and I know that is foremost in your mind…

TREASURER:

Hmm.

JOURNALIST:

…and he offered $100. Now as it turns out we are now at…

JOURNALIST:

Oh would you believe it, I think we are at $3,500 but I have just had a phonecall from an earlier bidder, true, I am not lying to you…

JOURNALIST:

Oh it is true.

JOURNALIST:

It is Georgina or Georgia from Ken Mercer Real Estate from Tuggerawong she has bid in with $5,000 to have the Wake Up Club…

JOURNALIST:

Yeah.

JOURNALIST:

…with her for two hours, all the promotion that comes with it, we even bring food, we bring cars, we bring signwriting, we bring balloons, Dwayne is going to dress up in what was it a french maids outfit the last time…

JOURNALIST:

Clown suit I think you mentioned.

JOURNALIST:

Similar to a French maid.

TREASURER:

Now we won't put the bind on you for over five grand.

JOURNALIST:

No way.

JOURNALIST:

Are you going to match Mark Latham.

TREASURER:

What did he give you?

JOURNALIST:

He gave the charity one hundred bucks.

TREASURER:

Oh I will double him.

JOURNALIST:

There it is. Two hundred dollars.

JOURNALIST:

Look out, line eight is ringing.

JOURNALIST:

Mark Latham's people.

TREASURER:

What do I have to bid to ensure that you don't, that we don't have you for the day.

JOURNALIST:

Oh that's it. Turn his microphone straight off.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello, I would like to say it was a pleasure. I really would.

TREASURER:

I am just joking fellas.

JOURNALIST:

There you are Federal Treasurer ladies and gentlemen. Peter Costello look for him on the Coast today. You are off to Wideline next are you?

TREASURER:

Yeah that's right. Yes.

JOURNALIST:

Yes. Wideline enjoy the time with the Treasurer.

JOURNALIST:

We have been out to Wideline just a couple of weeks ago and took them lunch. So they are great people.

TREASURER:

It is great to be with you. Thanks very much Dwayne, Sarah. Thank you very much.

JOURNALIST:

Don't be a stranger.

JOURNALIST:

Yeah come in.

TREASURER:

Well I mean there I am every morning at 5am listening to you.

JOURNALSIT:

And can you tell Mr Howard from me we have got the “cats bums” with him. We have asked him to come in here a couple of times and he keeps flicking us. Now you can go back and say how wonderful we are.

JOURNALIST:

You need to finish the story however.

TREASURER:

I will go back and he will start purring.

JOURNALIST:

The last time the Prime Minister was here Sarah asked him if he pooper-scooped his own dog, walked around picking up the little droppings.

JOURNALIST:

It is a fair question.

JOURNALIST:

And we haven't seen him since.

TREASURER:

Well you asked him a question about pooper-scooping and he got the “cats bums”?

JOURNALIST:

Work that out if you will. We have got to be moving on.

JOURNALIST:

I can't believe it.

JOURNALIST:

Oh we are going to go to news next with Ross. Peter Costello have a great day on the Coast.

TREASURER:

It is great to be here. Thank you.

7 Sep 2004

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