Peter Costello

Media Transcripts

Graeme Samuel - Interview with Catherine McGrath, ABC AM

 

TRANSCRIPT
THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Full transcript
of
Interview with Catherine McGrath
ABC – AM

8.00am
Friday, 18 July, 2003

 

SUBJECTS: Graeme Samuel

TREASURER:

Well I think that it is important that we get the best person in the job to be chairman of the ACCC. As you know I believe that that best person is Graeme Samuel and nobody has nominated a better candidate. Mr Samuel previously had the support of four of the Labor States and Territories and South Australia makes a fifth and I recognise the fact that Kevin Foley has considered this on a basis of the best person prepared for the job and has given his support accordingly.

JOURNALIST:

Well, Kevin Foley has also indicated that he won’t be supporting Louise Sylvan as the deputy. Where does that leave you?

TREASURER:

Well, obviously I will contact the other States and Territories and I believe that there is a majority support for Louise, and we have nominated Louise to be the deputy to Graeme Samuel, but I think what we will do is we will confirm all of these arrangements with further negotiations with the States concerned. You have got a situation, a very unusual situation, where somebody appointed by the Commonwealth has to get a majority support out of eight States and Territories, that is five votes. Now the Commonwealth doesn’t even get a vote even though the Commonwealth funds this organisation in its entirety.

JOURNALIST:

Well on that point because that is how this whole argument began, a deadlock between four States and Territories for Graeme Samuel and against. Now that you have your required votes do you expect New South Wales, ACT and Queensland to also support Graeme Samuel?

TREASURER:

Look it is possible that some of them could, in private conversation some of the others have indicated to me that they actually…

JOURNALIST:

Should they, I mean do you need that co-operation?

TREASURER:

Well, you don’t actually need their votes, but for example the opposition to Mr Samuel has been run out of New South Wales whereas Bob Carr has been telling everybody who will listen that he personally supports Graeme Samuel and thinks that he is a fine man but notwithstanding that he can’t do anything about New South Wales’ vote, so in my discussions with some of others some of the others are actually supportive of Graeme Samuel, but it doesn’t matter now because of course there is the required majority.

JOURNALIST:

Now Professor Fels was famous for the amount of media attention he got. He was also famous for taking on big business and for slanging matches he had with people like Gerry Harvey, and groups like the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry believe that he went too far. Is this a new era as far as you are concerned with Graeme Samuel?

TREASURER:

Oh no he will be very pro-competition. Now let’s be clear about this point. The reason why there was opposition to the appointment of Graeme Samuel, particularly out of New South Wales from Treasurer Egan was because he was pro-competition. Let’s be clear about this point. While he was running the National Competition Commission he was too pro-competition for the liking of some of the state officials. And I expect him to be very pro-competition. Now, you said before that Professor Fels got into slanging matches, well whether he did or whether he didn’t I am not sure that is entirely fair to Professor Fels, but what we expect is somebody who enforces the law without fear or favour. It's not a publicity job. This is somebody who looks at situations and enforces a statute designed to promote competition in our society, and I have great confidence because of his track record and the way in which he took on vested interests that Graeme Samuel can do that job.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, thanks for your time.

TREASURER:

Thank you very much.

18 Jul 2003

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