Peter Costello

Media Transcripts

Budget, economic management, Qantas - Doorstop Interview, Parliament House, Canberra

Doorstop Interview

Ministerial Entrance
Parliament House, Canberra

Tuesday, 8 May 2007
8.30 am

SUBJECTS: Budget, economic management, Qantas

TREASURER:

Well the Budget which will be held tonight is the culmination of months of work, of carefully assessing the investment needs of the Australian nation, making sure that we properly use our resources and pitching our sail to the future to make sure that we are ready for the future challenges which are going to come upon us in the decades which lie ahead.  It will be responsible economic management.  It will have measures which will help families.  But most of all it will be preparing for the great challenges of the future, challenges which we are going to face in relation to the ageing of the population, challenges on the environment and making sure that we so strengthen our economy that we can meet those challenges from a position a strength.  That is what we want to do, get to a position of strength and all of the work that we have been doing over the last 10 years or so has been designed to get us to a position where we can lock in benefits and move forward.

JOURNALIST:

Labor says money is going to be raining like confetti.  Is that true?

TREASURER:

Labor is generally wrong.  Labor doesn’t understand economic management and I think you will see yet again why Labor can’t be trusted with the economy.

JOURNALIST:

Labor also says that you are playing catch-up in relation to this leak in today’s paper about doubling the subsidy for home solar power panels.  They said it is trying to counter what they did last week.

TREASURER:

Well, I think I made the point last week that Kevin Rudd went out and tried to entice people to take out more debt, to borrow more in relation to their housing.  Now, since he has been complaining that people have a lot of debt already, you would wonder why he would want to try and entice them into more debt.  I said it was a misconceived policy.  It proved again that Labor doesn’t think about policy, Mr Rudd doesn’t think further than the next headline.  He won’t do the hard work.  This Budget started off in October of last year.  We have been working on this almost full-time since Christmas.  And when you are putting together a Budget which is $240 billion in an economy which has now grown to $1 trillion, it takes work and effort and discipline.  It is not a question, as Labor says, of looking for the next headline.  It is a question of doing what is right for the Australian people. 

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) this one?

TREASURER:

Pardon?

JOURNALIST:

Talking about headlines, what is your headline for this Budget?

TREASURER:

Well, this will be a Budget which will lock in the progress that we have made over the last 10 years or so and strengthen Australia for the future.  It is all about economic management.  It is about getting ready for the great challenges which will come down the track at us in relation to the ageing of the population, in relation to the environment and dealing with them from a position of strength.  I want Australia to be strong and I want to deal with our challenges from a position of strength. 

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) the Herald Sun tomorrow though, what, a fist full of dollars?

TREASURER:

Well, I doubt that the Herald Sun will be employing you as their headline writer. 

JOURNALIST:

How important is…

TREASURER:

They have got standards there, you know. 

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) an inflationary Budget?

TREASURER:

Look, we have to make sure that we keep price pressures out of the economy.  That is very important and this Budget will ensure that price pressures are subdued.  We want inflation to be at the middle of our band – 2½ per cent – between 2 and 3 per cent on an underlying basis over the course of the cycle and that is where we are aiming.  That is where our policy has actually been now for the last 10 years and that is where we want to keep it.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello, you said yesterday and you are not feeling any added pressure, do you feel any added expectation from your Liberal colleagues?  One of your backbenchers this morning conceded that some of his colleagues are panicking. 

TREASURER:

Well, to me it is just about doing what is right for the Australian economy.  I set out when I first became Treasurer, to get the Government out of deficit and out of debt.  We are out of deficit, we are out of debt.  I set out to try and get more people in work.  We have got 2 million people more in work today.  We set out to get inflation low.  We have got inflation at 2½ per cent.  And now I want to set out for the challenges of the next decade, to do what is right for the economy.  If you get the economy right, the politics looks after itself.  If you keep people in work, that is what the Australian public expects you to do.  If you keep inflation low, that gives them a breather.  That is what they want us to do – they want us to focus on economic management, on giving them security in their lives and that is what I do and that is what we have done over recent years, and that is what we will do in the future.

JOURNALIST:

A number of your colleagues this morning said they were expecting tax cuts in the Budget, are they going to be disappointed?

TREASURER:

Well you will all know what is in the Budget when I hand it down tonight.

JOURNALIST:

How crucial is this Budget in boosting your election winning chances?

TREASURER:

Well, the thing about the Budget is to get the economy right.  Because if you don’t get the economy right people lose their jobs.  If people lost their jobs you can forget the politics.  If interest rates go to 17 per cent like they were under Labor, you can forget the politics.  The critical thing here is to keep people in jobs, to keep interest rates stable, businesses profitable, opportunities for children.  If you do that, that is the most important thing, that is what the Australian public pay for.  They pay on results. 

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) expected to get a little bit of a bounce out of this Budget.  Would you agree with that?

TREASURER:

Well, I will let the polls look after themselves.

JOURNALIST:

On the Qantas takeover, have you been concerned about the levels of foreign ownership during the bid?

TREASURER:

Well, I make this point: that under legislation the majority of Australian ownership must apply to Qantas.  It must apply to Qantas as it currently stands, it must apply in relation to any new bidder.  And as far as the Government is concerned, that is a legal obligation on the Qantas Board.  We expect the Qantas Board to manage that.  And if the Qantas Board hasn’t done that, then the Qantas Board will need to have a good explanation. 

JOURNALIST:

Have you spoken to anyone in the bidding group in the last week?

TREASURER:

Oh, I don’t go into my discussions. 

JOURNALIST:

Is it fair to say that tonight’s Budget is a Budget for everyone?

TREASURER:

Tonight’s Budget is a Budget for the economic strength of Australia and to set us up for the challenges which we will face and to meet those challenges from a position of a strong economy. 

JOURNALIST:

You talk about the five months of hard work, do you enjoy today?  Do you enjoy Budget day, having the limelight?

TREASURER:

Well, the good things is that after five months being locked up in secure rooms, it is nice to get out.  Thanks.

8 May 2007

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