Peter Costello

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Family Payments, flow-through shares, diesel tax, tax cuts, Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame - Interview with Steve Mills 2KG FM

TRANSCRIPT
of
THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Interview with Steve Mills
6KG FM
Kalgoorlie

Tuesday, 29 June 2004
8.30 am (WA Time)

 

SUBJECTS: Family Payments, flow-through shares, diesel tax, tax cuts, Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame

MILLS:

Mr Costello, good morning.

TREASURER:

Good morning Millsy.

MILLS:

How you going son?

TREASURER:

Very well, very happy to be here.

MILLS:

Well, they were pretty happy with you last night, handing around some pretty big cheques, we will talk about that very shortly. Sitting right next to you though is the Federal Member for Kalgoorlie, Mr Barry Haase, good morning Barry.

BARRY HAASE:

Good on you Millsy, a great day in the goldfields.

MILLS:

It is a good day, always good to have someone of your ilk. Now, I have got to tell you before I forget, an economics teacher around town by the name of Melissa, wanted to congratulate you for some wonderful surpluses. ‘Keep delivering them,’ she said. That was her message, she rang up earlier this morning, I didn’t want to forget. Are you the world’s greatest Treasurer?

TREASURER:

I think that title was taken a while ago, wasn’t it Millsy?

MILLS:

Well, I was just going to compare you. Some of the things that you come up with in Parliament are a little bit like Paul Keating. Have you ever modelled yourself on his style?

TREASURER:

Well, no, I was opposed to Paul Keating in the Parliament so I modelled myself on trying to get rid of him actually, that was what I spent the first part of my career doing. But look, I like to have a bit of a joke. Every now and then somebody says something that allows you to crack a joke, troops like it and so I often say, if we can be entertaining and do our jobs at the same time, that is a good thing.

MILLS:

Now, I was just having a bit of a joke off air, I was thanking yourself for the family bonus recently with four children, I greatly appreciate it. You said, what did I spend it on, and I said, ‘I bought a greyhound and called it Lump Sum.’ Now, a lot of families…

TREASURER:

Now is that a true story Millsy? Come on.

MILLS:

No, I wouldn’t do that, (inaudible). I have heard you say that you ought to buy shoes and educate my children, etcetera…

TREASURER:

Yes.

MILLS:

…which is probably a benefit. But on the news this morning a very interesting topic was the fact that some families were actually over-paid, and there is an email going around in Centerlink this morning that says they don’t have to re-pay it under any circumstances and if they try and re-pay it, send the money back immediately. Now, the question has been raised by a few people that had overpayments in social security where they are in a re-payment schedule, why is this different?

TREASURER:

Well, this is a lump sum. This is $600 which is being paid to anybody who was receiving the Family Tax Benefit in this current financial year. And there are some people that may have come onto it in different ways, but rather than go through which way you came onto it, which way you didn’t, we just want everybody to have $600 per child, per annum. And so they are entitled to it, some of them are saying, well maybe I wasn’t entitled to it, no, everybody is entitled to it.

MILLS:

But what about the people that got paid twice?

TREASURER:

Well, nobody would have been paid twice, if you had say a Mum and a Dad that each had an entitlement, there has been a case when Mum and Dad each had an entitlement so the family as a unit qualified.

MILLS:

But no one is being paid in the bank account and then sent a cheque?

TREASURER:

No, everybody is going to get $600…

MILLS:

Because I keep looking in the post office box every day waiting for the cheque.

TREASURER:

Millsy, you had better ask your wife whether she got the cheque. She is probably not going to tell you and I don’t blame her.

MILLS:

Alright, now I have got to nail you on this one, we…

TREASURER:

(inaudible).

MILLS:

Now, a couple of weeks ago, the Labor Party were in town and they made a big announcement and that is that if they were elected they would definitely, and we made sure that we were understanding what they were saying, if they were elected they would introduce immediately, flow-through shares. Now this is a topic that Barry has raised on a number of occasions with you, to this date we have had no joy, no promises, do you come into this studio this morning and make the same guarantee that if you are re-elected into Government, that the introduction of flow-through shares will occur, not the fact that you will look at it, but you will introduce it.

TREASURER:

Well, no, we have been quite open that we have, we are quite prepared to look at it and we are prepared to look at it in accordance with other industries.

MILLS:

But the Labor Party has said they will introduce it.

TREASURER:

Well, the Labor Party abolished it.

MILLS:

OK.

TREASURER:

Didn’t they tell you that?

MILLS:

No, they didn’t.

TREASURER:

The Labor Party abolished it in 1986 under the Keating regime, so…

BARRY HAASE:

You forgot to ask them that did you Millsy?

MILLS:

They obviously forgot the errors of their way and they have obviously reflected on it and thought well it is something that the goldfields need. Now, Barry you are here this morning making a case for the been at it because the people in the goldfields don’t believe how hard you have been at it, you do believe in this, don’t you, that it is needed?

BARRY HAASE:

I certainly do Millsy, I have had my ears bashed for now six years with goldfielders that understand the long-term period of getting a Greenfield into production and they have said that we need more exploration and I have taken that message to both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer and that is my job to take messages from my people to the center of Parliament. And of course it is the (inaudible) I am forced to accept that it is the job of the Cabinet to keep the running of this country on an even keel…

MILLS:

Well, we need you in the Cabinet, Barry, how do we get him in the Cabinet Peter Costello?

TREASURER:

Re-elect him. The longer you stay there and the more you work up the totem poles, so you send him back to Canberra and a vacancy arises you are always in with a chance.

BARRY HAASE:

You heard it Millsy.

MILLS:

So, why haven’t you done it yet though, obviously you have reasons for not entering this?

TREASURER:

Well, let me say, we think it is a question of priorities. The first thing we did is we took diesel tax off the mining industry. Let me tell you about the Labor Party policy. The Labor Party policy I think has been costed at something like, I think it is something like $70 million over four years, but the Labor Party is going to put $470 million of new taxes on the mining industry. So, they put $470 million of new taxes on with this diesel tax and then they say, but we might introduce flow-through shares and take $70 million off again so you are only $400 million behind. Now, my argument has always been, let’s keep the mining industry $400 million in front. Now if we get the opportunity to do other things we should do it, but you are seen the Kalgoorlie mine ads today, the latest proposal is for $470 million of new taxes on the mining industry and I call on Mark Latham as I did yesterday, do a back flip and get rid of that policy.

MILLS:

Well, the other issue that Barry has been pushing hard and it is probably an area where you can entice people to live in a marvellous part of the world like Kalgoorlie, (inaudible) and the goldfields, and that is the area of taxation zone allowances and maybe making them more equitable in relation to the areas up north (inaudible) another area?

TREASURER:

Yes, I have been talking to people about that while I have been across here and looking at all of the ways in which you can help with the taxation system. We have taken the attitude to date it is better to reduce tax generally rather than just reduce them in some parts of Australia as against others, and we have got a tax cut coming into effect on Friday…

BARRY HAASE:

Thursday.

TREASURER:

…Thursday, the first of July, which will be cutting taxes for people by another $20 a week and then 12 months later another $20 a week, so that is $400, no $40 in tax cuts I should say, over the 12 month period.

MILLS:

The rebates are pretty attractive though aren’t they, at the end of the day?

TREASURER:

Depends where you live, I think the rebate in Kalgoorlie is a $57 amount per annum.

MILLS:

And that is what I am saying if you actually increase the rebate it is more (inaudible) for the bottom line when someone (inaudible) tax return and they know that they are going to try and get a lump sum back.

TREASURER:

Sure, $57 per annum, I mean it is useful, but nobody would get rich on it…

MILLS:

It is chicken feed.

TREASURER:

…when…

MILLS:

It is chicken feed, be honest.

TREASURER:

…when you compare it…

MILLS:

$57 isn’t ever worth (inaudible).

TREASURER:

…yes, so…

MILLS:

It is chicken feed.

TREASURER:

…so that is why we are cutting by $40 a week.

MILLS:

But no, the rebate itself though at the end of the financial year, if you sit down and say ok, I have got kids etcetera, etcetera, I mean there is a big differential between what you get living in the north-west and what you get living here.

TREASURER:

That’s true because it is a different zone, but…

MILLS:

(inaudible) in Kalgoorlie, Boulder and the Goldfields.

BARRY HAASE:

Maybe not to the same extent…

TREASURER:

Not the same extent I don’t think.

MILLS:

But there is a extent that you need to look at it more than $57.

TREASURER:

I think it varies, the amount varies, but I think it can be as high as a couple of hundred, but the point I am making to you is we are cutting tax by $40 a week.

MILLS:

Yes.

TREASURER:

Now, that is a very substantial…

MILLS:

But everyone gets that Treasurer.

TREASURER:

…yes, everyone is entitled to that. But that is the good thing…

MILLS:

But what we are saying is that what do the people of the Goldfields who contribute to the wealth of this country…

TREASURER:

Sure.

MILLS:

…what are they actually getting back directly and that is one of the ways that you can re-pay them…

TREASURER:

Well, no…

MILLS:

…without having to do it right across the board.

TREASURER:

No Millsy, the way you give it back to the people of the Goldfields is by taking the taxes off goldmining, in particular diesel. That is why I keep going on about diesel. If you are worried about the mining industry and you want to recognise the contribution that it makes, make sure they don’t pay any tax on their diesel. That is what is at risk in this next election.

MILLS:

Alright, well I am sure that it will be a topic that will be discussed in the next election, and it will be a key issue Barry, won’t it?

BARRY HAASE:

Yes, it is going to be here, I know that Millsy and the Treasurer and I go toe to toe on a regular basis on this and you have heard his answer as I hear regularly.

MILLS:

Alright, you see a picture in front of you of the PM sitting with Bill Gates on the front page of The West Australian, could you put a caption to that?

TREASURER:

You go first.

MILLS:

Barry would you like to have a crack?

BARRY HAASE:

I suggest ‘I immediately see who pinched the wheels off the jet.’

MILLS:

There are a few you could do. Peter are you going to hang around for a while?

TREASURER:

Absolutely.

MILLS:

That would be great because we have got Betty in Coolgardie about to play movie scrabble, but here is the (inaudible) and ‘Smoke from a Distant Fire’, 20 away from nine, good morning.

[Commercial break]

Seventeen away from nine, a very special guest the Treasurer of this great country of ours Australia, Mr Peter Costello and the Federal Member for Kalgoorlie, Mr Barry Haase. Just before we play movie scrabble Mr Costello, last night a big night for the hall of fame?

TREASURER:

Yes it was a great night, we had a function out at the Hall of Fame and the Federal Government had announced that we would be giving an additional $1 million to bring the total contribution up to $7 million and I had the honour of presenting the cheque, so it was a great night.

MILLS:

And it was a nice cheque too, a million bucks.

TREASURER:

$1 million…

MILLS:

Fantastic.

TREASURER:

…which is, I hope it can get them on a very secure and financially sustainable basis…

MILLS:

Indeed.

TREASURER:

…and they seem to think that that would (inaudible) for meeting us, so let’s hope that it becomes one of the great icons of Australia.

MILLS:

Indeed, indeed. Now, are you into movies?

TREASURER:

A little bit.

MILLS:

Are you? Any taxation benefits in investing in the movies at the moment?

TREASURER:

There are a lot actually.

MILLS:

Now that the end of the financial year is just around the corner. I don’t like to advise our listeners on that. Betty of Coolgardie good morning.

BETTY:

I heard that.

MILLS:

How are you?

BETTY:

Not bad thank you.

MILLS:

Say good morning to the Treasurer.

BETTY:

Good morning Treasurer.

TREASURER:

Good morning Betty.

MILLS:

And say good morning to Barry.

BETTY:

Good morning Mr Haase and how are you on this bright and sunny day?

BARRY HAASE:

It is wonderful always in the Goldfields Betty, great to hear your voice.

MILLS:

And tell Coolgardie, you have got 30 seconds, go.

BETTY:

I beg your pardon.

MILLS:

Tell Coolgardie, because I don’t think the Treasurer has had the pleasure of visiting Coolgardie, what is the unique part about Coolgardie, Betty.

BETTY:

It is a ghost town. It is, actually Coolgardie is a beautiful place, the people are absolutely wonderful and what else can you say you know, it is just a lovely place to live.

MILLS:

Full of great people like you Betty.

BETTY:

Yes, well, it is full of great people, I don’t know about like me.

MILLS:

Now you are playing for a ticket to the movies today you negotiated yesterday…

BETTY:

Yes.

MILLS:

…in Movie Scrabble thanks to the Regent Cinemas. Now today, it is a one work title to a movie, just one word…

BETTY:

Yes.

MILLS:

…and there are six letters in the movie, alright? So, you need to mark six letters on your piece of paper.

BETTY:

Four, five, six.

MILLS:

That’s the way, alright now fire away and give us four consonants and two vowels.

BETTY:

‘H.’

MILLS:

‘H.’

BETTY:

Yes.

MILLS:

Is that what you want?

BETTY:

Yes. Oh, Steve that is not, I nearly chocked on that.

MILLS:

What is the next one?

BETTY:

‘T.’

MILLS:

‘T’ for Tommy is, now would you like to enlist the help of the Federal Treasurer?

TREASURER:

Are you ready Betty?

BETTY:

Yes. Come on you put one up.

TREASURER:

What about a ‘J?’

MILLS:

Yes, ‘J’ is good, ‘J’ is good. Put ‘J’ in the first letter, there. Well done.

BETTY:

‘J.’

MILLS:

So do you want to stick with the Treasurer?

BETTY:

Yes, he can do it today.

TREASURER:

Are we still on consonants?

MILLS:

We are, this is the last one.

TREASURER:

‘R.’

MILLS:

‘R’ is good. ‘R’ is the final letter. Ok, so you have got ‘J’ at the start and ‘R’ at the end, alright now you need to give us two consonants, sorry, two vowels.

BETTY:

‘R’ at the end is it?

MILLS:

Yes it is, ‘J’ at the start, ‘R’ at the end.

BETTY:

And it is a movie?

MILLS:

Yes, and you can give us two vowels Betty.

BETTY:

‘O.’

MILLS:

‘O’ is good, ‘O’ is the second last letter. ‘O’ is the second last letter.

BETTY:

And ‘U.’

MILLS:

And ‘U’ is excellent, ‘U’ is the second letter.

BETTY:

The Juror?

MILLS:

I will give you a clue, it stars Danny DeVito and Arnie Schwarzenegger.

BETTY:

Oh, Junior.

MILLS:

Junior…now, Betty, you have won yourself a ticket to the movies, you can come back tomorrow and double it up for two.

BETTY:

No, I will be back tomorrow because I told you what my aim is.

MILLS:

Yes, it is to take those bachelors back to the movies again.

BETTY:

That’s right.

MILLS:

Shall I check with the Treasurer if there is any tax to be paid on that win this morning?

BETTY:

No, because there shouldn’t be. (inaudible) this has got nothing to do with…

TREASURER:

I think you are alright Betty. It would be nice if Millsy paid some tax every now and then though wouldn’t it?

MILLS:

Don’t you worry about that. Betty, I will talk to you tomorrow.

BETTY:

See you matey.

MILLS:

We have the Treasurer, Peter Costello in the studio with us with Barry Haase, we will take a quick break and be back to take your calls right after this, it is 12 to nine.

[Commercial Break]

10 away from nine, the Federal Treasurer, Mr Peter Costello and Barry Haase in the studio, Treasurer you have got to catch a plane I appreciate that, but Al has been waiting patiently on the line, good morning.

AL:

Good morning Millsy, good morning Mr Costello.

TREASURER:

Good morning Al.

MILLS:

Right’o mate, quickly what is your question this morning?

AL:

Ok, Mr Costello, if John Howard wants to be re-elected, will he fulfil his three year term or are you going to take over and is Mr Howard going on a pension?

TREASURER:

I don’t think Mr Howard is going to go on a pension one way or another, but look, he has made his position clear which he has said over and over and over again that whilst it is in the Party’s interest and he has the support of his colleagues he is going to continue, that is really a matter for him but he has been quite open about his position and that is the way it will go.

MILLS:

Alright, thanks Al and very quickly Treasurer before you go, Josh gave us a call and said not everyone is entitled to the $600 rebate Millsy, please explain.

TREASURER:

Everybody who is on Family Tax Benefit is entitled to it and you get Family Tax Benefit if you have dependent children, 2.2 million Australian families get it. It is possible that you don’t get it if you are a higher income earner, if your income is say over $90,000 or $100,000 and you have got one or two kids you may not get it, but subject to that income test everybody get Family Tax Benefit and everyone who gets Family Tax Benefit gets $600.

MILLS:

Centerlink is probably your best place to go Josh. Just before you go, I have got the tape rolling, I want an exclusive this morning, the Treasurer of Australia, Mr Peter Costello, will now announce the election date.

TREASURER:

On a Saturday between August and December.

MILLS:

Really? Can you be a bit more precise because we like a bet here on the Goldfields we would like to get on.

TREASURER:

I will be more precise, between the hours of 8 and 6 on a Saturday between August and December.

MILLS:

That is about as good as I can give you this morning, thanks for coming in and I look forward to seeing you back in the Goldfields in the not too distant future.

TREASURER:

Great pleasure to be with you Millsy. Thanks.

29 Jun 2004

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