Peter Costello

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Budget - Interview with Tracey Grimshaw, Today Show

TRANSCRIPT

of

THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Interview with Tracey Grimshaw
Today Show

Wednesday, 12 May 2004
7.10 am

SUBJECTS: Budget

GRIMSHAW:

Income tax cuts and family payments are at the centre of this years’ Federal Budget announced last night by Treasurer, Peter Costello. But as usual not everyone is pleased and there are claims the Federal Government is only doing what it thinks is necessary to win the upcoming Election. Well the Treasurer joins us from Parliament House this morning. Good morning Treasurer.

TREASURER:

Good morning Tracey.

GRIMSHAW:

Go forth and multiply. Is that the message of this Budget?

TREASURER:

Well, we have got an ageing population and it certainly wouldn’t hurt if the number of young children in Australia increased. That would deal with the ageing of the population over a long period of time. But we have put together a package which is particularly designed to help mothers that a trying to juggle child rearing and work. And so we have a benefit that helps mothers as they come out of the workforce to have a child and we have changed the benefits so that they can have a much easier entry back into part-time work and keep a lot of family assistance. And most families these days, they tend to have Dad working, maybe Mum working part-time and it is that typical Australian family that we are trying to help in this Budget.

GRIMSHAW:

Would low income earners without children be justified in feeling completely abandoned by the Government in this Budget?

TREASURER:

Not in the slightest. Many of those people will be single people who haven’t yet had children and when they do they will benefit from it. Many people who are self-funded retirees got big tax assistance in the Budget a couple of years ago. So what we have done now is we have returned to the unfinished business – and the unfinished business is the family with children, and particularly those middle income earners who are on marginal tax rates which are too high. They shouldn’t be facing up to top tax rates, we have got a plan that you won’t go on a top tax rate until you earn $80,000. I think that is fair for Australia.

GRIMSHAW:

But lower income earners are battlers, they’re always battlers, they’re always struggling to make ends meet. Why were they left out of tax cuts? They make up the bulk of taxpayers in the country don’t they?

TREASURER:

Well no, lower income earners who principally have children and are struggling not only for themselves but for their children are the huge winners. It is $50 a week for some of those people. These are very large benefits. But we don’t just do it for the sake of it, we try and do it in a way which will help the economy. You can’t have any benefits if you haven’t got a strong economy Tracey. The truth of the matter is, if you can’t run an economy, you can’t do anything. And it is because over the last years economic management has been safe and secure and tried and tested that we have managed to get unemployment down, more people into work, and we have now got a package which will help mothers particularly and families getting into work.

GRIMSHAW:

Certified Practising Accountants say that in year one of your tax cuts you are really only giving back what has been lost in bracket creep over the past 12 months?

TREASURER:

Oh well they would be wrong about that because if we had have just indexed tax rates, people would be paying higher taxes today than they are.

GRIMSHAW:

Have you done enough for childcare? You have announced a big package certainly, and that’s been welcomed by those interest groups, but Mums say for example that there’s a two year waiting list for childcare for children under two years old. That’s not going to help them get back to work if they can’t get childcare is it?

TREASURER:

Well that is why we have increased the number of family day care places by 4,000 and increased the number of outside school hours places by 40,000. And over the course of the Government the number of places has increased by 250,000. So, the very large increase in childcare places and of course part of the reason for increasing family benefits is to help parents with childcare fees. People say, oh well you are giving money to families but families need this kind of money. They are paying for the schooling and they are paying for the uniforms, feeding their families and paying for childcare. And that is one of the reasons why I believe you have to have a tax and payment policy that helps families because there you have got parents not just supporting themselves but they’re supporting the costs of rearing children as well. And as you pointed out, one of those costs is childcare.

GRIMSHAW:

I have lost count of the number of times you have said families so far. The families, the middle income earners, I guess who benefit most from this Budget are the ones whose votes you most need to be re-elected. Is it just a co-incidence that they are the focus of this Budget in an election year?

TREASURER:

Well, we need everybody’s vote to be re-elected. We need the old, we need people in business, we need people on the land. And what we say to them is that economic management is the key responsibility of a Government and this Government has got a track record which I think is there for all to see. But we think you can actually build a stronger society with stronger families. If you have got strong families, raising kids in an atmosphere of security where they can plan I think that is going to make a stronger Australia which is what we are all about here.

GRIMSHAW:

Now that the Budget is done do you turn your attention to leadership and your own future?

TREASURER:

No, because the Budget is not done. The Budget was announced, we now have to legislate it and I call on the Senate to enact this package. It has to be enacted in the next four weeks because if it is not families will not get their payment before 30 June and the tax rates won’t fall on 1 July. So unfortunately this is not the end, this is just the first day, the beginning.

GRIMSHAW:

All right, some are suggesting that the Government will call an election in August. Is that completely out of the realms of possibility?

TREASURER:

I wouldn’t have a clue. I don’t call the elections, Mr Howard will decide when the election is to be called. But what we have got to do between now and June is we have got to enact this Budget.

GRIMSHAW:

All right, thank you for your time this morning.

TREASURER:

Thanks Tracey.

12 May 2004

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