Peter Costello

Media Transcripts

Tax relief for first homebuyers, economic management, Labor's plans to raid super funds, BHP and Rio Tinto - Doorstop Interview, Kingsley, WA

Doorstop Interview
Kingsley, WA

Tuesday, 13 November 2007
11. 45 am (WST)

SUBJECTS: Tax relief for first homebuyers, economic management, Labor’s plans to raid super funds, BHP and Rio Tinto

JOURNALIST:

Why haven’t you released a cost estimate for the property capital gains tax break announced yesterday and could it become a tax loophole for property developers as suggested by Macquarie Bank’s chief economist?

TREASURER:

No. This is an opportunity for people who have shared equity to be able to make a contribution, to take a position in relation to the property to help members of their family get into a home. We think that it is a very, very positive development and we believe that it is totally affordable.

JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible) cost though?

TREASURER:

Sorry?

JOURNALIST:

What is the cost?

TREASURER:

All of our costings are being released throughout the course of the campaign.

JOURNALIST:

How does it work?Are there any caps?So can multi-millionaires invest in wealthy suburbs and sort of use it as a bit of a tax break?

TREASURER:

Well bear in mind this: that any person who buys a house at the moment invests in a capital gains tax free investment. There is no capital gains tax on the family home, whether it is worth $100,000 or a million or indeed $10 million. That is the situation in Australia. What you are allowing here is you are allowing the same situation to prevail in relation to shared equity. So it is the same principle – it is not a new principle – it is the same principle, but it will be a good principle to allow people to get into their first homes.

JOURNALIST:

Why such a splurge yesterday, Treasurer?

TREASURER:

Well let me say, yesterday we announced measures in relation to education, we announced measures in relation to savings accounts and at the end of the day this Government will deliver further surplus budgets. Let me make this point: I think the Government has now delivered 10 surplus budgets and it is our policy to deliver another 4 which would make 14 in total.

JOURNALIST:

Are you concerned that this splurge will have an effect on inflation?

TREASURER:

No. The spending that we have announced, together with our careful management, means that the Australian budget is not only balanced, it is in surplus, and the Australian budget will be in surplus across the forward estimates. We have always ensured that we balance our budget. We have now paid off Labor’s $96 billion of debt. We are saving $9 billion a year in interest payments. If Labor’s debt hadn’t been paid off, the Commonwealth would be spending today $9 billion a year – $36 billion across the forward estimates – in interest payments. Because we paid off Labor’s debt we now have a $9 billion per annum saving, $36 billion across the forward estimates, which allows us to invest in better things. Isn’t it better to invest in education rather than to pay Labor’s interest bills?But I say this, if you get an inexperienced team with wrong-headed policy into government at the federal level, everything that we have worked for and we have achieved over the last 10 years will be put at risk.

Now I read in today’s West Australian that Wayne Swan, who wants to be the next Treasurer of Australia says this: ‘Labor intends to push superannuation funds to invest in private-public partnerships. ’Labor intends to push superannuation funds to invest in their priorities – that is what Wayne Swan said. Now, this should strike a chill into the heart of every Australian. Because once Labor starts telling you where your superannuation money is invested, it will go to their pet projects, union pet projects. It won’t be going to the best return. When you see Labor trying to spend your superannuation on their pet schemes, be afraid, be very afraid. Like rats eyeing the grain silo, Wayne Swan is now eyeing private superannuation. Not enough for Kevin Rudd to be talking about raiding the Future Fund, now he is lining up your superannuation for investment in his pet schemes.

JOURNALIST:

Would you support a BHP and Rio takeover? The takeover of Rio by BHP.

TREASURER:

Well if any offer were made by BHP in relation to Rio, it would have to clear competition hurdles and it would have to be consistent with our foreign investment policy. And one of the requirements of our foreign investment policy is that BHP is headquartered in Australia. That is a condition I put in place.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) there would be competition concerns?

TREASURER:

It would have to be assessed.

JOURNALIST:

The boom has been good for your Government, how long can you see it going for?

TREASURER:

Well I think it is important that Australia make every post a winner and I think it is important that we support the mining industry at this time. Can I say, nothing could be worse for the mining industry than getting rid of AWAs, bringing back union control on mining sites, making Australia subject to the industrial stoppages which crippled our mining industry in the ‘80s. Don’t think that the mining industry has just lucked its profitability. Ensuring that we had better industrial relations, ensuring that we had more efficient transport links, ensuring that we don’t lose time in stoppages and disputes has been very important for the mining industry and we need to keep it in place.

JOURNALIST:

Has the Government provided any advice to BHP in relation to that Rio takeover so far?

TREASURER:

Well I won’t add to what I have already said. Thank you.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello, I just have one last question.

TREASURER:

One last question.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard said today that you would not be Prime Minister for 18 months, possibly two years. Were you aware of this timeframe?

TREASURER:

Look, it has been on the record now for a long period of time that at the time of the election after this one, Mr Howard said that he didn’t intend to contest the 2010 election, but that is the election after this one. I am focussed on this one. Thank you.

13 Nov 2007

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