Peter Costello

Media Transcripts

Budget - Interview with Michaela Carr, 6WF/ABC

TRANSCRIPT
THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Interview with Michaela Carr
6WF/ABC

Tuesday, 18 May2004
8.30 am (Perth)

SUBJECTS: Budget.

CARR:

I am standing in for Liam Bartlett today and my special guest today is the Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello. Welcome.

TREASURER:

Good morning Michaela, good to be with you.

CARR:

How are you today?

TREASURER:

Very well thank you.

CARR:

Enjoying the West Australian hospitality?

TREASURER:

I certainly am and even some rain which is a bit of a surprise.

CARR:

Do you think maybe you have brought it with you? Do you have that sort of power?

TREASURER:

I think it comes from the Indian Ocean doesn’t it?

CARR:

I think it does. Now we don’t have the same weather that you do in the Eastern States which is probably a good thing really given you are from Melbourne.

TREASURER:

Oh absolutely. If the weather came from the East then you could blame me but I think it has come in from the Indian Ocean. But let’s just hope the rain keeps on going across the continent because the continent is very dry at the moment.

CARR:

Absolutely, we need it. Well first of all, let’s talk about the latest Newspoll. I know the politicians hate talking about polls and there’s only one that matters and that’s polling day.

TREASURER:

You are right.

CARR:

The latest one is from The Australian, The Newspoll, we would like to talk about those results. The Government is slipping back to 41 per cent, the ALP are 44. Your reaction to that first of all.

TREASURER:

Well, as you say, the polls bounce around and I don’t put too much store on any particular poll in any particular week. But this is a poll particularly in the wake of the Budget and I think it showed that the Budget was well received. It certainly showed that people thought it was good for Australia and as somebody who has done a few Budgets now, it compared pretty favourably to previous ones. So you see that, that doesn’t mean that we can stop explaining the Budget and what it is about. It doesn’t mean that we can stop explaining what the political issues of the day are about. You just look at these things and you move on and get on with the job which is what I do.

CARR:

Tax cuts are not normally so difficult to sell. Does that surprise you?

TREASURER:

I don’t know that it is difficult to sell. I think that there is a lot of misinformation that has been put out there and that is one of the reasons why I am taking every opportunity to explain the situation. I saw a picture of somebody in one the national newspapers today, a Mum and a Dad with two kids and they said, oh there is no benefit for us, we are not having another child. And you know, I wanted to ring them up and say, don’t you know, we have increased the Family Benefit by $600 per annum per child. And they would be precisely the kind of people that would be helped by this Budget. And you see the journalists go out and interview people, I don’t think the journalists themselves are being as scrupulous as they could be in explaining the benefits. That is why I take the opportunity to do it myself.

CARR:

There’s also going to be an advertising campaign for people, is there a website that people can log on to?

TREASURER:

I think so. I think it would be the Australian Government site or the Department, the Family and Community Services site. I can’t give you the actual website address here but you could go in through the Australian Government. And the point about that is that families who get Family Assistance for their children will have an increase in that Family Assistance of $600 per annum. And many of them just received this directly into their bank accounts so there is a lot of explaining to do as to why the amount in your bank account has suddenly gone up, what that will mean for future years and for those that maybe haven’t been getting Family Assistance in the past, they need to know how to apply. So we will be advertising that in the newspapers as well.

CARR:

My guest in the studio this morning is the Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello. The number to call if you would like to speak to the Treasurer today, he is welcoming your calls, is 1800 626 720, that is toll-free from the country and in Perth 9484 1720. Also the SMS is working today, 0427 156 720, E-mail as well – liam@your.abc.net.au. Peter Costello, you’re celebrating a milestone this month.

TREASURER:

Oh really?

CARR:

I have been looking at your website. Ten years as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party.

TREASURER:

Is that right? When’s that?

CARR:

So congratulations.

TREASURER:

Thank you very much. Thank you.

CARR:

There’s also congratulations for one of your colleagues today.

TREASURER:

Yes.

CARR:

John Howard, celebrating 30 years as an MP.

TREASURER:

Yes and they are having a big celebration in Sydney on Thursday night which I will be going to, to celebrate 30 years in Parliament. It is a terrific career isn’t it to stay 30 years in Parliament and to serve in practically every senior office in the land including Prime Minister. So I expect it will be a big celebration.

CARR:

14 years for yourself. How many more?

TREASURER:

Oh well, I am pleased I have done 14. How long I last is very much up to the electors in my own seat, which I don’t take for granted, and the electors of Australia. And if we continue to serve them well, I hope they will continue to elect me.

CARR:

Do you spend a lot of time in Higgins?

TREASURER:

I do. It is not what you would call a safe seat. It is a margin which I can’t take for granted and as a consequence I do, I spend a lot of time in my own electorate, I live in it, well, I live in Melbourne and commute to Canberra and I have a local Electorate Office and I make sure that I do a lot around the electorate.

CARR:

Okay, let’s go to the phones now. We have John who has a question for the Treasurer. Good morning John.

CALLER:

Good morning. Morning Mr Treasurer.

TREASURER:

Morning John.

CALLER:

I am a pensioner. The petrol prices are going up. Once again the flow-on will come down through the various goods and services that we get and the GST will go up. But in your Budget you, I believe you have left the pensioners a little bit for dead.

TREASURER:

Well, that is not right. We increased the pension by $11.40 on the 20th of March and we are budgeting for another increase on the 20th of September of $8.30. So there will be pension rises in this Budget six months apart and they will be rises higher than the cost of living because we are now moving pensions according to wages. Can I just pick up one other thing you said? The GST doesn’t rise, the GST is a fixed 10 per cent. It doesn’t increase and it can’t increase unless all of the State Governments and the Commonwealth agree to increase it. And whilst I am the Treasurer it won’t be increasing.

CALLER:

Oh we would just like to correct you on that. The is one thing that does rise though, the GST does rise, if a tin of salmon goes up $2.50 the 10 per cent is still included on the $2.50 isn’t it?

TREASURER:

Oh well…

CALLER:

As the price of the goods goes up…

TREASURER:

The tax is constant…

CALLER:

Yeah.

TREASURER:

…as the price of goods goes up or down it moves accordingly.

CALLER:

Yeah.

TREASURER:

But it doesn’t itself vary.

CALLER:

No.

TREASURER:

And as I also said, the way in which we have done the pensions is we don’t even fix the pensions to prices anymore we fix them to wages which means that pensions have been rising faster than prices and in this Budget I have budgeted for two pension increases, six months apart, one in March and one in September.

CARR:

Thanks for your call John.

CALLER:

Thank you very much Mr Treasurer.

CARR:

Okay, we will go to Brian now. Good morning Brian.

CALLER:

Oh morning Michaela, morning Treasurer. Treasurer, a couple of questions about your Budget. You have explained a bit previously to that gentleman about the child benefit that comes in at $600 per child per year. Is there an age limit on those children?

TREASURER:

Well, they are dependent children, yes.

CALLER:

Yeah dependent children.

TREASURER:

Dependent children, so they can be students as long as they are dependent. But once the children have grown up and become adults in their own right…

CALLER:

And you…

TREASURER:

…(inaudible) receive it.

CALLER:

And you are going to pay $600 in this financial year?

TREASURER:

Yes.

CALLER:

And then you are paying another $600 every year after if you can get it through?

TREASURER:

Yes that is right. $600 before the 30th of June per child…

CALLER:

Yeah.

TREASURER:

…and then the annual increase cuts in in respect of the 2003-04 year so the second payment will be when people reconcile their tax after the 30th of June 2004. So there could be two payments very quickly together.

CALLER:

Is is asset tested or is it taxable?

TREASRUER:

There is an income test on Family Tax Benefit. It depends how many children you have, but if you have two children you can still get it up around $90,000, three children even higher. It depends on the number of children.

CALLER:

Just quickly, the other question, you didn’t bring in any tax relief in for people under $52,000. Look I think you have made a terrible mistake. I think it is going to boomerang. I will tell you why. A family member of mine, he earns $35,212 taxable income. You reckon they don’t pay any tax well you pay nearly $7,000 in tax plus you pay it over $500 Medicare levy and then he comes back to paying his HIF as well. So he has got no tax relief whatsoever because you have got that ceiling of $52,000. I think you have made a terrible mistake, there’s a hell of a lot of people out there earning a lot less than fifty two grand a year, I can tell you.

TREASURER:

Oh absolutely. And that is why we cut their taxes last year.

CALLER:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

No, no, I think it is very important that you bear this in mind…

CALLER:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

No, hang on, I think it is very important that you bear this in mind, when the Government came to Office, people on $38,000 were paying 43 cents in the dollar. And we cut that rate to 30 cents in the dollar and then last year we increased the thresholds and when you actually look at the amount of tax reduction that people on that 35 or 38 per cent have received, they have received tax reductions of nearly 20 per cent over the last four years. Very, very large tax reductions in that area. Now this time, because we have done tax reductions for people in that $30,000 bracket in the 2000 Budget and the 2003 Budget it was important to focus more of the tax cuts on middle income earners. Now, you have got to do this bit by bit. The idea that everybody’s tax can be cut in every Budget won’t add up. And the proof is in the pudding. Mr Latham says he is going to give a tax cut to more people, well let him name the rate, the threshold, the amount and how he will pay for it. Because within the constraints of the Australian economy he wont be able to do it.

CALLER:

Well…

TREASURER:

All you are getting at the moment, is you are getting promises to everybody of everything. And you know and I know, you can’t promise everybody, everything, every time, it can’t be done.

CARR:

Mark Latham also in a bit of conflict yesterday with his Assistant Treasurer over this matter?

TREASURER:

Well, this is the whole point, you see, Mark Latham says, oh he is going to give more people bigger tax cuts and his Assistant Treasurer is asked well how could you possibly afford that and he said, well we reserve the right to take back those tax cuts from people who have had them in this Budget. Now unfortunately that Assistant Treasurer, Mr Cox is telling the truth. So Mr Latham jumped on him yesterday and said, oh no we don’t plan to do that. It was a very, let me make as a very interesting formulation from Mr Latham. They said, are you going to take those tax cuts back if you are elected? He said, we have no plans to do so. Well are you going to take them back? We have no plans to do so. It was a very cute statement from Mr Latham. He didn’t say no I won’t be taking them back. He wouldn’t give a guarantee. He said I have no plan to do so. And he knows as well as we do that his plans will change if he gets elected.

CARR:

Thank you for your call Brian. We might move on if that is all right.

CALLER:

Thanks.

CARR:

We will talk to Margie now. Hi Margie.

CALLER:

Oh good morning, I am on the air am I?

CARR:

You are.

CALLER:

Oh good morning Treasurer and Michaela.

TREASURER:

Good morning Margie.

CALLER:

Look I am just ringing up, I am interested about the $600 per child that we are going to be receiving before the 30th of June. I just want to ask you, are you aware if you have a disputed debt with the Centrelink, are they automatically going to take out what they are owed or do we just automatically get the $600?

TREASURER:

No, you will be getting $600 before the 30th of June 2004…

CALLER:

Yes.

TREASURER:

…normally it is just an electronic transfer into your bank account.

CALLER:

Yes.

TREASURER:

In future years, if there has been an overpayment you can use your $600 lump sum to set off the overpayment.

CALLER:

Yes.

TREASURER:

But if you have been receiving the correct amount it will just be $600.

CALLER:

Okay. So they have no right then to actually deduct anything that is owing to them from this $600 payment?

TREASURER:

Not the payment that is being made before the 30th of the June.

CALLER:

What about after the 30th of June?

TREASURER:

After the 30th of June I said if you have been receiving any overpayments…

CALLER:

Yes.

TREASURER:

…you can use the $600 to set that off…

CALLER:

Right.

TREASURER:

…but if you have been receiving the correct amount or indeed underpayment…

CALLER:

Yes.

TREASURER:

You will get made up to your right amount plus the $600.

CALLER:

Okay. All right then. Now and also, just very quickly, I don’t know if you are aware of this, but I will ask you anyway, is there anything in place to try and train these people that work at Centrelink so that they give out the correct information when we make enquiries?

TREASURER:

Well, yes, yes, they are regularly given information and they are instructed on how to give out the correct information, yes, yes they are.

CALLER:

Well this is now the second time that I have had a disputed overpayment from them. The first time they actually agreed that they had given me the incorrect information and that I wouldn’t have to repay the debt and then they reneged on that decision and I had to repay the debt because I didn’t meet the three criterias that they had in place. I am now in a position where I received incorrect information again this year, after the birth of my third child and I have now incurred a debt again which of course I am not very happy about.

TREASURER:

No. Well I can understand that. I think the important thing is to speak to the staff and to try and give them the proper information.

CALLER:

And that is why I am interested, yes I agree, and that is why I am very interested to know because I feel for these people that work at Centrelink and I would think that there should be some sort of training in place…

TREASURER:

Sure.

CARR:

Margie we might take that up with the relevant Minister instead of the Treasurer (inaudible).

TREASURER:

They are trained and she is absolutely right they should give out correct information. Often I find that there is a breakdown of communication between people and it is very important I think to stay in touch and share information as much as possible.

CALLER:

Yeah definitely and I did do that and I just feel quite angry in a way that I am an honest person…

TREASURER:

Sure.

CALLER:

I have been, I worked for twenty years before I had my children and I, you know, like I say I am an honest person, I thought I was doing the right thing in inviting my husbands income etc I mean we are a struggling…

TREASURER:

Sure.

CALLER:

…family. I have chosen to stay at home to raise our children…

TREASURER:

And the good news is we have also changed the income test so that the mothers who are staying at home…

CALLER:

Yes.

TREASURER:

…will be getting additional access to Part B. So there is the good news. Three children…

CALLER:

I did.

TREASURER:

$600 per child extra per annum and also the additional…

CALLER:

Yes.

TREASURER:

…advantage from the Family Tax Benefit B.

CALLER:

You have done well. I just hope, I really do hope, that something is done for those poor staff at Centrelink because truly I just feel that they are just the normal everyday person…

TREASURER:

Sure.

CALLER:

…who man the telephones and then when people like myself ring up with perhaps involved questions about income and things like that they just don’t seem to have the necessary skills to answer the question and then I am the person at the end of the day that has to repay money.

TREASURER:

Well you’re the person at the end of the day who is getting the benefits…

CALLER:

Yes.

TREASURER:

…and of course we have to make sure that the benefits go to those that need them the most. And I think the communication between the two parties actually helps that through. Good luck.

CALLER:

As Michaela said perhaps we will take that up with the relative Minister.

CARR:

We certainly will do that. Thanks for your call today Margie.

CALLER:

Thank you. Bye, bye.

CARR:

Okay, just looking at the SMS there Treasurer, “Good Budget Peter, great job” from Wayne at Esperance. Does that warm your heart?

TREASURER:

Thanks Wayne, thanks for SMSing in.

CARR:

Okay, we will go back to the phones now. Peter would like to talk. Hi Peter.

CALLER:

Peter from Manjimup. I have got a question for the Treasurer.

CARR:

Fire away.

TREASURER:

Sure.

CALLER:

Fine I wonder Mr Treasurer if you could possibly ask Mr Jim McGinty, the WA Health Minister, why he cannot negotiate work rates for WA nurses when he receives Federal funding for the WA health system from your Budget?

TREASURER:

Well, I don’t know what he is doing about that. But I can tell you that health funding has increased under this Budget from the Commonwealth level. We pay the health funding to the States. The States are responsible for administering the hospitals and they have had substantial increases in funding out of this Budget so I can’t give you an answer as to what Mr McGinty is doing.

CALLER:

I see.

TREASURER:

But if you like I will notify Tony Abbott our Health Minister of your call and see if he can do something with Mr McGinty.

CALLER:

That would be very good.

TREASURER:

Okay.

CARR:

Thanks Peter.

CALLER:

Thanks very much.

TREASURER:

Thanks.

CARR:

Okay well we will go to Hamish. Hi Hamish.

CALLER:

Good morning. Hello. Look, just, I have been mulling over the last, your Budget, in actual fact I notice there’s two, a couple of main issues. One of them was the number of children that Australians are not having and this higher education cost. Now I have five children, my oldest boy is doing his first year at Uni and it struck me that when he finishes and graduates he is going to come out with a debt of course because he is not a position, we are not in a position to pay his education, and at his part-time work he is not going to be able to pay it either but what I thought would be a very good long term strategy that the Government should maybe consider is that once, for example, in the case of my son, he leaves school, he has this debt, at a point in time he will get married and more than likely will have children and what I think would be a really good incentive for these young people would be once they do have children that they get a larger HECS rebate for example. So they don’t actually get money but what they do is they get a rebate on their HECS debt because what they are doing is contributing to the population and that would give young people an incentive to go to school because they know, I will go to school, I will get my education, I will have a debt, I will have children, but if the Government then give me a rebate for contributing to the population of Australia, putting something back into the system, it might help encourage them.

TREASURER:

Sure, well we have accomplished that outcome really in another way. When you do have children you are going to be eligible for a $3,000 maternity payment, or the mother is, which will deliver cash to families, when you have your first child you will be eligible for a minimum annual payment of $1,095 under the Family Tax Benefit and for lower income earners the annual payment rises above $4,000 per annum in respect of the child. So, the Family Assistance now that is being paid by the Commonwealth Government is very significant and it has increased quite a lot when our Government came to Office, it has increased more than 100 per cent and the Maternity Allowance has been introduced. And so you have got to remember this, there will be a lot of people who haven’t been to university who don’t, who have children, and they will also qualify for these Maternity Payments. I don’t think it would be fair if you just gave assistance to people who had been to university by doing it through the HECS system. I think the better way of doing it so that everybody gets it including those that don’t go to university is to pay in respect of the child.

CALLER:

Hmm.

CARR:

Thanks for your call Hamish.

CALLER:

Thank you.

CARR:

Let’s go to Humphrey. Hi Humphrey.

CALLER:

Yeah, good morning. Just very briefly if I can just paint a quick picture. I just became unemployed three weeks ago, I have been told because I have got over $5,000 in my account I wont get any unemployment benefit for another four weeks which makes it about seven weeks. What is there in this Budget for the unemployed?

TREASURER:

Jobs.

CALLER:

Okay, explain.

TREASURER:

The best thing you can do for unemployed is to create work. Because what unemployed people need more than anything else is a job. And we have laid down a plan for economic growth, low interest rates, low inflation, business profitability, changed taxation arrangements which is designed to create jobs. We have had 1.3 million new jobs created in Australia over the last seven or eight years and we have got to keep job creation going.

CALLER:

Do the employers around Western Australia or Australia, do they know this, do you think they are passing that on or are they basically still keeping people out of work and just hoping to push their bottom line up, to push their profit up?

TREASURER:

Well…

CALLER:

It seems like it is just a profit driven thing. There doesn’t seem to be any what is the word, altruism, with a lot of employers now days.

TREASURER:

Well, you know, at the end of the day, if an employer is going to employ people then they have got to be running a profitable business. If they are not making a profit they can’t employ anybody. So I don’t think that a profitable business is at odds with employment. I think the two go together. And I think if you can keep business profitable in Australia then your job creation prospects are going to be much greater. And if you compare unemployment in Australia today with what it was four or five years ago, it is dramatically fallen and that is what economic management is all about.

CALLER:

But basically though when you look at the amount of unemployment money or Job Search money you are paid every time you are buying something that has got GST in it, what you are basically doing because your Government set this up, you are actually snatching 10 per cent or thereabouts on most products out of peoples pockets, the unemployed and the long term unemployed, and I am not long term, but there are a lot of people, long term unemployed, I don’t think you are ever going to get zero unemployment are you. And in fact you wouldn’t, what your Government probably wouldn’t want that either.

TREASURER:

Oh no, I would like to get unemployment as low as we possibly can. Look, when I became Treasurer in Australia it was thought that full employment in Australia might be 6 per cent or 7 per cent. We have got it down to 5.6 per cent and I think we could get it lower in Australia if the Senate would pass some of our industrial relations changes, we could actually reduce unemployment more and the task is basically to get it as low as possible so that everyone who wants to work can find a job. That is what economic management is all about.

CALLER:

(inaudible) why do you punish people for instance that are on PAYE when it comes to taxation each year and yet big businesses as most of us know are laughing on both ends. Big business gets off with a slap on the wrist or basically nothing. Why do you tend to penalise the weak Mr Treasurer?

TREASURER:

Well, I couldn’t disagree with you more. We have an audit programme now which is auditing the big companies of Australia. The Taxation Statistics in this Budget shows that the portion of revenue which is collected from large companies is higher than ever before. That is, it is higher than we have ever collected and that is because we are enforcing company tax laws and one of the side-effects of receiving more tax from Australian companies is that we have been able to cut income taxes in this Budget. You know, people say to me, well how can you afford the income tax cuts, how can you afford the family assistance in this Budget? A very large proportion of it is paid by the fact that we have clamped down on big companies and the tax take from Australia’s large corporates is larger than it has ever been before.

CARR:

Humphrey thank you for your call. It is one minute to nine. Treasurer can we impinge on your time a little bit longer after the news at nine? You have a full schedule…

TREASURER:

Yes.

CARR:

…but we would like to take a few more calls if you would give us another 10 minutes. So if you would like to speak to the Treasurer, we do have a full board at this stage. You perhaps could ask your question to the producer, she could put it on the screen for you, the Treasurer could get through as many answers as he possibly could. And I have got a few questions for him as well, I will kick off with this one, aside from Melbourne, if you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

TREASURER:

Cable Beach.

CARR:

Good choice. Have you been there?

TREASURER:

No, no, never been there but I have seen it in the brochures. Margaret River.

CARR:

Margaret River?

TREASURER:

Ooh I think Margaret River would be nice, don’t you?

CARR:

Like a fine wine?

TREASURER:

Well, the beaches, the scenery, the vineyards…

CARR:

Got everything.

TREASURER:

…what more could you ask for in life.

CARR:

My guest today is the Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, I am going to twist his arm during the news at 9 o’clock and make him stay for just a tiny little bit longer. It is coming up to news time now on ABC, 720 ABC Perth and ABC WA, 9 o’clock.

BREAK FOR NEWS

CARR:

Michaela Carr with you today, and my special guest has very kindly told us he will stay for another couple of minutes is the Federal Treasurer.

TREASURER:

Good to be with you.

CARR:

(inaudible) she says she gets nothing.

TREASURER:

Oh no, she gets an increase in the Family Tax Benefit of $600 per child per annum. Let me go over it again because I think this is a misunderstanding by many people. If you have children, dependent children, then unless you are incredibly rich which we assume a single mother wouldn’t be, you will be getting an increase of $600 per child per annum. And so for two children that is an increase of $1,200 per annum which is quite a substantial amount.

CARR:

Another caller has said that the baby bonus isn’t enough.

TREASURER:

Well, there is a new Maternity Payment in the Budget which is worth $3,000 for each child born after 1 July. It is quite a substantial sum, $3,000 is obviously not going to be the cost of raising and rearing a child because a child is expensive and they take a lot of looking after but it is a benefit that wasn’t there before. And you can always say well it should be more but at the end of the day you have got to budget these things, you have got to make sure all the sums add up. And I think it is a, it will be a welcome help, I am not saying for a moment it will cover all of the costs of rearing children but it will be a welcome help for new mothers.

CARR:

Getting away from the Budget, we have had a caller who wants to know if you think our cricket team should be in Zimbabwe?

TREASURER:

Well, if I were a cricketer I don’t think I would go to Zimbabwe. I think the situation is Zimbabwe is terrible. I think that the law and order situation is bad. I think the oppression of many of the farmers is just a terrible tragedy and I think the Government which is in place does not show respect for human rights. And in those circumstances I don’t think I would be going if I were a cricketer. And was it Stuart McGill? I think said…

CARR:

He pulled out, that’s right.

TREASURER:

…he wasn’t going and I think that was a pretty brave decision. Now having said that, now people are going to say well they are under contract to the Australian Cricket Board and they have to fulfil their contracts, I understand that argument but I would suggest the Australian Cricket Board think very seriously about the tour.

CARR:

Just a quick couple of questions about Peter Costello the man, now we have talked numbers and Budget, what is the CD in your CD player at the moment?

TREASURER:

I think I was listening last night to “The Big Chill”, Marvin Gaye singing…

CARR:

Soundtrack?

TREASURER:

…“Heard it on the Grapevine”…

CARR:

“Heard it on the Grapevine”, that’s the one. Your first car?

TREASURER:

“Whiter Shade of Pale”.

CARR:

Oh, yeah, a great track.

TREASURER:

What was his name? Harum somebody or other?

CARR:

Procol Harum?

TREASURER:

Procol Harum that is the one.

CARR:

That is your era not mine.

TREASURER:

Yeah that is my era.

CARR:

Your first car?

TREASURER:

My first car was an FJ Holden. That was the best car I ever had and it was pretty old by the time I got it and I kept it for about 10 years and everybody else was driving modern Japanese cars and I had the good old FJ. It never gave me a moments trouble. Fantastic car.

CARR:

Apart from giving it to the taxpayer of course, what if you won the lottery, what would you do?

TREASURER:

Oh, if I won the lottery, first of all I think I would pay off all my wife’s bills.

CARR:

The credit card ones? Who is going to win this year’s…

TREASURER:

Only to help her of course.

CARR:

…Brownlow Medal, you can’t say past winners. That excludes your very favourite James Hird.

TREASURER:

James Hird. I think James Hird is a big chance for the Brownlow this year except to say that he did attack the umpire and he got a $20,000 fine and so I am not sure how the umpires are going to take to that.

CARR:

That is a very good point. If you had to choose a song to sing on Australian Idol what would that be?

TREASURER:

I think I would try “What a Wonderful World”.

CARR:

Like Guy Sebastian.

TREASURER:

But I wouldn’t do the Guy Sebastian rendition. I think that was a mistake. I think it is a wonderful song but I think everybody has it in their minds the wonderful way in which they heard it the first time round and I think he was trying to be a bit too highfalutin for want of a better word. But I did sit through all that Australian Idol final stuff because I have got teenage children and they, one was going for Guy Sebastian and the other was going for…

CARR:

Shannon Noll?

TREASURER:

…Shannon Noll, the guy who sang “What About Me?”

CARR:

Greatest influence?

TREASURER:

Family.

CARR:

Mum?

TREASURER:

Mum, family, big influence on my life. Church, big influence on my life. Sport has been a big influence on my life.

CARR:

First job as Prime Minister?

TREASURER:

My first job? My first job was as a labourer.

CARR:

Your first job as a Prime Minister.

TREASURER:

Hay carting and labouring. I used to…

CARR:

Same thing really isn’t it?

TREASURER:

…we used to, we would work doing horticulture during the day, mostly pulling out weeds, and then we would go hay carting at night. Paid a lot of money actually hay carting. I don’t think they do it anymore do they, it is mechanised now. We used to throw the bales up on the truck. You had to be pretty strong to do that.

CARR:

And hope they didn’t come off the other side. Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, thank you so much for staying with us for a couple of extra minutes. And good luck to the Bombers versus Geelong, Docklands on Saturday night.

TREASURER:

Tough game, Geelong coming off a big win last week at Kardinia Park but Essendon starting to fire.

CARR:

Okay. 720 ABC Perth and ABC WA. It is eleven past nine.

18 May 2004

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