Peter Costello

Media Transcripts

US terrorist attacks

TRANSCRIPT
of
HON. PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Interview with Steve Price, 3AW

Wednesday, 12 September 2001
3pm

 

SUBJECTS: US terrorist attacks

PRICE:

. . .Peter Costello joins us on the line. Thanks for your time.

TREASURER:

Thank you very much Steve.

PRICE:

You are almost lost for words when you think about what we have sat through today?

TREASURER:

It has been a terrible shock for everybody. It is something that none of us would have imagined and our hearts go out, particularly I think, to the firemen, to the employees at the Pentagon, to those that are still trapped in the rubble in the United States. Australia has passed on to President Bush its prayers and condolences to the American people. And this has been an attack on civilisation itself, on the right of people to go to work and not be killed in somebody else's cause.

PRICE:

I heard Alexander Downer, Foreign Minister, earlier say that if there are Australians killed, and we are making some presumptions there, but if there are that this is also a terrorist attack on Australia.

TREASURER:

Yes, well, Steve we don't know if there have been any Australians killed yet, although numbers of Australians work down there on lower Manhattan. I know there are Australians who work in the World Trade Centre, so you would have to say that there could well be Australians who have been killed. They are people who work in banking or finance in New York. We hope that every one of them is safe. The Australian Government is making every effort to locate all of the people concerned and I can assure the families that the Government is doing whatever it can to identify and get them information.

PRICE:

It may be a little early for this and we really are concentrating our efforts on rescue and treating the injured and trying to discover if there are any people alive in that rubble, and importantly the Americans (inaudible) at who is responsible, but the impact of this, Treasurer, on the global economy?

TREASURER:

Steve, this is first and foremost a loss of life, and it is a human tragedy. Today the New York Stock Exchange has not opened, but the banking system appears to be still operating without a hitch in the United States. In Australia our banking system is obviously very sound and secure, as is our stock market that has been trading all through the day. Nobody would wish this in human terms. I wouldn't overstate the effect it will have on the global economy. The US is a huge economy. In Australian terms a twenty trillion dollar economy, so, the outcome of this is not going to be (inaudible), the outcome of this is it is an attack on civilised behaviour and it is terrorism at its worst, and that is where the cost is going to be felt.

PRICE:

The world will never be the same again, I get the feeling?

TREASURER:

I don't think so Steve. I think that the step-up in security which will come out of this, both for political leaders and also for financial institutions, will make life different as we know it. It is clear that where you have people who are prepared to die in a cause, the kinds of security which designed to prevent rational people from operating, is not enough. We are going to have to have a heightened security in all of these areas in the future. And, I guess, government and nations around the world have lost a little bit of their innocence out of this.

PRICE:

You travel there a lot yourself, you would have friends in the financial industry in Wall Street, and your mind must have just flashed back to the times that you have walked through Wall Street into those buildings?

TREASURER:

I have walked through those buildings on many occasions. I have been to many meetings with funds managers in the World Trade Centre. I have been in that building quite a bit. We have a banking operation with the Reserve Bank quite close to that, and we have been able to account for all the Australians that were working in the Reserve Bank. But I do know the building quite well and I have been through it all, and to see what happened today has come as a terrible shock. The Prime Minister, who I spoke to an hour or so ago, had been out at the Pentagon shortly before the attack. So, in these areas there will be Australians that will be working, and there will be Australians that make their lives there and there will be Australians that have been put at severe risk by the act of these madmen. And, as I said earlier, it is just an attack on civilised behaviour that people can be killed in the cause of somebody else.

PRICE:

I appreciate you giving us a few moments.

TREASURER:

Great pleasure Steve. Thanks very much.

 

12 Sep 2001

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