Peter Costello

Media Transcripts

Queensland Labor electoral fraud, excise, entity tax

Transcript No. 2000/109

TRANSCRIPT
of
THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Doorstop Interview
Friday, 24 November 2000
Toowoomba
10.00 am

SUBJECTS: Queensland Labor electoral fraud, excise, entity tax

JOURNALIST:

… the way the troubles of the Beattie Government might impact on the Coalition’s position up here with the election coming up this year?

TREASURER:

I think the Beattie Government is in real trouble. It now appears as if there is a strong Federal link – that is, that there are people in the Federal Parliament who may have had some knowledge, or who have been somehow drawn into the proceedings. And the thing you’ve got to remember about Queensland ALP is that most of the senior people in the Queensland ALP were either in the AWU faction, or had been State Secretaries at some point. And I think these State Secretaries – it’s inconceivable that these State Secretaries would have been oblivious to what was going on. And there are some ex-ALP State Secretaries in pretty senior positions.

JOURNALIST:

Would you care to name them?

TREASURER:

I’m not sure that I’m entitled to, but all I would say to the ALP State Secretaries, is, they should come forward and they should tell what they know. It’d be inconceivable that all of this was going on, and this kind of thing is handled at an organisational level, with the organisers not having some knowledge of what was going on.

JOURNALIST:

Should they be called to the Federal Parliamentary inquiry that’s going on at the moment?

TREASURER:

If it can get to the bottom of these, yes. They should tell what they know. There are some Federal MPs who may have had knowledge of the events. I think they should make a clean breast of it. It’s clear that, I think, now something systemic was going on in Queensland, and that it was factionally organised, and the people that were in the faction and in the system have held some senior positions in the ALP.

JOURNALIST:

But the Labor Party have always been saying how rorting’s everywhere, including the Liberal and the National Parties. Do you think you should perhaps look in your own Party for …?

TREASURER:

If they want to put forward names and allegations, they can be looked at. We’ve always said that. But the truth of the matter is, that there is no member of the Liberal Party currently in gaol, and therefore no person that’s been gaoled for electoral fraud that is giving evidence in relation to these things now. If there were someone in the Liberal Party that had engaged in electoral fraud, and they’d been prosecuted and gaoled, then their evidence would have to be looked at. But that’s not the situation.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, won’t MPs, Federal MPs who have been implicated, explain themselves to the Federal Parliament when it meets next week?

TREASURER:

I think a lot of people want to know what they have to say. And it’s not something that you can ignore. Branch stacking is one thing. But where a branch stack involves, as it did in Queensland, false entries on an electoral roll, that is an offence. And let’s be clear about this: false entries on an electoral roll is a pretty serious thing. Elections can turn on small numbers of votes. Whole nations can swing on small numbers of votes. And if you can’t be sure that that electoral roll is clean, then you can’t be sure of the outcomes of elections. You know, you want to have a look at what’s happening in Florida - you see how nations and international politics can swing on small numbers of votes. And if you can’t be sure that the people that will swing in those elections on small numbers of votes, you know, were alive and freely voting, you could undermine confidence in the system.

JOURNALIST:

So do you think this is systemic within the ALP, not just a couple of bad eggs making trouble for them?

TREASURER:

Well, as I understand it there’s, when you say "bad eggs", as I understand it there are some people that have been convicted and gaoled …

JOURNALIST:

Is that a systemic thing, though?

TREASURER:

Who are now giving evidence. I don’t know that it’s just a question of bad eggs. These people have been convicted in a court of law, which presumably means the evidence was sifted. They’ve been found guilty, they’ve now been gaoled, they are now talking about what was actually engaged. We have a problem of very serious dimensions, now. You’re in a State where the Deputy Premier has suddenly resigned, there are people sitting in gaol, and names are being raised on a pretty regular basis. I think it’s important that everyone get to the bottom of this. I’m sure Mr Shepherdson will be trying.

JOURNALIST:

If allegations are made against a Labor frontbencher, a Federal Labor frontbencher, should Mr Beazley take action?

TREASURER:

Well, it’s up to Kim Beazley whether he wants somebody on his frontbench who’s got a cloud hanging over them. I imagine that Mr Beazley would be calling such a person in, demanding a full explanation. And I expect that Mr Beazley will be making a statement in relation to this matter shortly.

JOURNALIST:

To the Parliament?

TREASURER:

Well, I don’t know if it can wait until Monday. I’d be very surprised, if there are serious questions over a member of his frontbench, I would expect that Mr Beazley has called the Member in and sought a full explanation. That’s what a Leader would have to do, and I expect that Mr Beazley will have to make public whether or not he’s satisfied about this particular matter. Whether he does it to the Parliament or publicly, I don’t know if it can wait until the Parliament.

JOURNALIST:

But the Members should make their explanations to the Parliament next week?

TREASURER:

Well, I think the public will want an explanation, and I think the explanation should be made to the public as soon as possible.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, the Reconciliation Walk issue. After meeting Aboriginal leaders yesterday, has that sort of inspired you to maybe make the walk in your home town next week?

TREASURER:

Well, you know, yesterday Mr Clark raised it with me. It was the first time it’d been raised with me. I was in Walgett. I’m not quite sure what I’m doing yet. He asked me if I’d consider it. I said I would. So, when I …

JOURNALIST:

Have you looked at your diary?

TREASURER:

No, I haven’t. I’m now in Toowoomba and I still haven’t found my diary. I’ll check it back home.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, Ted Evans last night told an estimates committee that the tax take on petrol had gone up. There’s ANOP surveys saying that petrol consumption’s gone down. Doesn’t that mean that the new tax system has forced up the price of petrol?

TREASURER:

No, because if consumption went down, I would have thought that tax take would be reduced. In fact, that’s what the excise showed. But can I just say, let me make that point: if the petrol consumption has gone down, then your tax would go down with it. And, in fact, that’s what the mid year review showed – the excise take had gone down. Now, in relation to Mr Evans, I’ve seen that report in The Sydney Morning Herald and it’s false. Mr Evans has put a statement out this morning saying that it’s false.

JOURNALIST:

He didn’t say yes.

TREASURER:

He most certainly didn’t say what the headline alleged that he had said. He gave long and detailed evidence, which the reporter seized upon and which the headline writer belted out of the ballpark. And I think he’s made that point in a statement this morning. In my experience, journalists are always more reliable than headline writers. Not to say journalists are always reliable, but, you know, compare yourself to someone you think you can beat, Malcolm.

JOURNALIST:

Have you had any word from Peter Reith, yet, on his attitude on the entity tax issue that …?

TREASURER:

No, I haven’t. I haven’t spoken to Mr Reith. Do you mind not taking a phone call in the middle of …?

JOURNALIST:

Sorry. Michael Harvey, a mate of ours.

TREASURER:

I wouldn’t want to interrupt your phone calls, Malcolm, if it’s all the same.

JOURNALIST:

I apologise, Treasurer. It was very rude. I’m sorry.

TREASURER:

Well, now that Malcolm’s finished, are there any other questions?

JOURNALIST:

… In your trip, what have you learned in the last three days?

JOURNALIST:

That’s the Chinese civil service question.

TREASURER:

Look, it’s given me the opportunity to speak to a lot of people, people who are under the hardship of floods, to look at the damage on the ground. I learned a lot about the flooding. It gave me the opportunity here in Toowoomba to speak to people that are affected by drought, and to see some of their programmes, and to speak to a good cross-section of people, which I always enjoy. And it’s been terrific to get out of Canberra. I’d get out of Canberra as much as I could. In fact, if they cancelled the Parliamentary sitting next week, I’d be more than happy.

24 Nov 2000

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