Peter Costello

Media Transcripts

Budget

Transcript No. 2001/061

TRANSCRIPT
of
THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Interview with Paul Bongiorno - 10 Network

Tuesday, 22 May 2001

8.25pm

SUBJECTS: Budget

BONGIORNO:

Treasurer, thanks for joining us.

TREASURER:

Thanks Paul.

BONGIORNO:

The number of measures that you selected for older Australians, the bonus of $300, the tax-free thresholds. Is this really an admission that the GST compensation wasnt enough?

TREASURER:

No, its being done because it will be good for the economy, the Budget can afford it and older Australians deserve it. And when the three of those things come together, I think, they are measures that will be good for older Australians and good for all Australians. $300 to pensioners and part-pensioners and for a self-funded retiree an increase in the tax-free threshold to $20,000. They pay no income tax or Medicare levy unless they go above $20,000.

 

BONGIORNO:

See, I asked that because many pensioner organisations particularly feel that they should have got the $1,000 savings rebate, and others say that even though they understand your explanation about claw-back, that there is no claw-back, that they still want the 2 per cent. And the $300 falls short on that doesnt it?

TREASURER:

I think that for as long as the pensions been paid in Australia, people who receive it would have wanted higher pensions. And I can understand that, I dont for a moment say that thats not right. But on 1 July last year, as you know, we increased the pension by 4 per cent, its 2 per cent higher in real terms than it would have been without that, and tonight we introduce a bonus of $300, which to my knowledge has not been done before, certainly not done in my memory, and people will always say, well it would be nice if there was some more. But it has not been done before and I think it is a benefit which older Australians deserve.

BONGIORNO:

Well you intend to pay it next month in fact.

TREASURER:

The only thing that can stop it being paid next month is the Labor Party. We are trying to put it through the Parliament tonight.

BONGIORNO:

Im sure they wont. But doesnt that though run the risk for the Government that come November/December when people go to vote they might have forgotten the bonus?

TREASURER:

Well, this is something that you are doing to help older Australians. It is something that I think they deserve, and the Budget can afford, it is not a question of memories or anything else. It is just something that is worthwhile doing. We can afford it, we should do it.

BONGIORNO:

Just finally and briefly, the $1.5 billion surplus, can that survive an election campaign to the extent that, for example, would it pay for further tax cuts?

TREASURER:

Well, you are going to have to wait for the campaign. What that surplus is, is the fifth consecutive surplus that the Government has introduced, which has not been done since pre-Whitlam days. We have now repaid $60 billion of Labors $80 billion debt spree.

BONGIORNO:

Youve done that. I guess people want to know whether though this is being set up for a Costello black hole?

TREASURER:

Well, this is a surplus. You recall that in the five years of the Labor Party they werent running surpluses, they were negative by $17 billion, so this is a surplus and thats a little bit different I think.

BONGIORNO:

Treasurer Costello, thanks very much.

TREASURER:

Thank you.

22 May 2001

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