Peter Costello

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Forestry policy, election, James Hardie, pre-emptive strikes - Doorstop Interview, Launceston

TRANSCRIPT

THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
TREASURER

Doorstop Interview
Queen Victoria Museum Café
Invermay, Launceston

Tuesday, 21 September 2004
1.50 pm

 

SUBJECTS: Forestry policy, election, James Hardie, pre-emptive strikes

JOURNALIST:

Well Peter Costello no promises for Tasmanian, for forestry, no talk of the compensation package today?

TREASURER:

I had some discussions with some of the players in relation to investment and forest industry and we are taking consultations, discussing things widely before we make any further announcements in relation to the issue but it is not my place to make any announcements. I won't be making any today.

JOURNALIST:

But the forest policy is still in the (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

The Government's position is this: that we believe that forestry is of high conservation value. We know that there are a lot of Australians that want to preserve Australia's best forests for future generations, we understand that. We also know that there are people's whose livelihood depends on sensible forestry management and it is getting the balance between those two right which is important and having discussions with the interested players is a big part of getting that balance right.

JOURNALIST:

Is it sensible forestry management now?

TREASURER:

Well let me say that I think things improved dramatically once the Government put in place the Regional Forest Agreement but we have always got to monitor how things are going and we have got to make sure that we balance the legitimate desire of Australians to protect our wonderful natural resources and the legitimate interest that local people have in their jobs.

JOURNALIST:

What about John Gay, you spoke with him this morning. How about his argument that Tasmania's economy will be shot without the forestry industry as we know it today, and its forecasted growth?

TREASURER:

Well it was a great opportunity to meet with John and talk to him and hear his views and we are listening to everyone's views.

JOURNALIST:

John was concerned that you didn't give an assurance that the Regional Forest Agreement would be maintained as is.

TREASURER:

Well as I said I am not making announcements on Tasmanian forestry issues, that is not why I am here. I am here to support Michael Ferguson who is a fantastic candidate for Bass and one of the most energetic candidates I have ever seen. It is great to be here at the Inveresk Development which the Coalition Government in Canberra funded and announced, and has now delivered on in full. It was great to walk along the Boardwalk in Seaport which the Coalition Government announced and funded. It was great to see York Park which the Coalition Government announced and funded in full and after I had seen all of those wonderful things you know, Michael had a few more things that he wanted me to see.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) Treasurer, the opinion polls today put the Opposition I guess, in the first election winning lead it has had since the election was called. How concerning is that?

TREASURER:

Well people have got to realise that you could have Mark Latham in control of your mortgage in three weeks time…

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello…

TREASURER:

…he could be in charge of economic policy. His last gig out was as Mayor of the Liverpool Council and according to the polls his next one could be as Prime Minister responsible for your mortgage, your job, interest rates in your business and I urge people to think very, very carefully about Mr Latham's economic credentials.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello, what is in the Tasmanian package…

TREASURER:

Sorry, sorry.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello we have had three visits from the PM so far, another one on Thursday. We have you here today. How much influence has Bass got on the outcome of the Federal election?

TREASURER:

An enormous influence I think. See, Labor takes Tasmania for granted. They say Tasmania votes Labor, Labor has got five out of five seats, we don't have to worry much about Tasmania. And Labor is complacent in Tasmania and the Members are complacent in Tasmania. My message is this: that we, the Coalition Government, don't take Tasmania for granted, we don't hold any of the seats, but gee we would like to win a few and with a good candidate like Michael, I think we have got a chance.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible).

TREASURER:

Sorry, yes, yes, I had better ration these, sorry.

JOURNALIST:

Will John Howard be announcing the Tasmania package on Thursday and if so, what are the key planks?

TREASURER:

Well I don't know when Mr Howard is coming down but I am sure when he does he will announce a Tasmanian package, of that I'd be very confident, and what will be in it, well you will have to wait for his announcement but Michael put a pretty good case to me today about pilons on the river bank of the Tamar River so I am going to go back and have a look at that very carefully.

JOURNALIST:

Do you have any plans…

TREASURER:

Sorry, yes.

JOURNALIST:

…do you have any plans to take away the cap on the Bass Straight Passenger Subsidy?

TREASURER:

Right, let me make this point, our Government introduced this subsidy, now I personally was responsible for the decision to introduce it – not Mr Lennon, not Mr Latham, not anybody else, our Government. It has been enormously successful in relation to the Bass Straight. In relation to caps on the vehicle from Sydney, it is no where near the cap. There is no journey that is being affected by the cap, so this has been an enormously successful policy and it is something that we want to continue. We introduced it, we want to continue it.

JOURNALIST:

The Tourism Council are basically saying that whilst it is no where near the cap now it may well be in two years time.

TREASURER:

Well let's wait and see, you know, oh how I wish, you know, how I wish we could have such an explosion in the programme that the cap would be relevant, but it is not.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, concerns about the…

TREASURER:

Ok, I will take two more, yes and yes.

JOURNALIST:

The Jackson inquiry into James Hardie has found that executives had in fact breached Corporation Law. What is your reaction to that?

TREASURER:

Well I think we ought to be very careful here about coming to any conclusions, but let me say this. The Australian Securities and Investment Commission which is funded more than at any other time in Australian history, which I have personally increased the budget of, will be asked to investigate ever possible breach of the Corporations Act and to bring to justice anybody that has been in breach of that Act. Now we have a corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, ASIC, well funded, on the ball and it will investigate these matters without fear or favour and if there is any person that has breached their duty or any person that has tried unlawfully to hide assets of a company, the full weight of the law will be brought down against them.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) to be changes to the Corporations Law?

TREASURER:

Well…

JOURNALIST:

The Commissioner seems to have recommended it.

TREASURER:

…well look, you have to be quite precise here, I have got a letter, I have just received a letter from the Premier of New South Wales, that says this, and I haven't read it, it has only just got tabled in Sydney sometime around lunch time. It says this: the Commissioner has not expressed a concluded view on the need for reform. So, I haven't read the Report, the Premier of New South Wales says that the Commissioner didn't express a concluded view on the need for reform. But having said that, I will read it when I get the opportunity and when I do read it, if there is a recommendation in relation to that, of course we will consider it very, very seriously.

JOURNALIST:

Why would the Government rule out pre-emptive strikes…

TREASURER:

Now this really is the very last question, yes.

JOURNALIST:

Why would the Government rule out pre-emptive strikes on regions where JI activity is in fact intense?

TREASURER:

Why would we, or why wouldn't we?

JOURNALIST:

Why wouldn't you as I understand? Why would the Government rule out pre-emptive strikes against Jamah Islamiah in regions where JI is active?

TREASURER:

Well the Government's view is this, that we have a terrorist organisation such as Jamah Islamiah that could be plotting to kill our fellow citizens as they did in Bali. Anything that this Government can do to save Australian lives ought to be done. If we can get the assistance of other countries we will do it. But we will do what is necessary to protect our citizens. And we are not going to go around and give terrorists assurances that will make them feel safe and happy when they start planning attacks on Australian citizens. It is not our interest to give reassurance to terrorists. It is in our interests to stop them.

JOURNALIST:

Are you saying that by Mark Latham saying that they will rule out pre-emptive strikes that they are giving comfort to terrorists?

TREASURER:

Well what I am saying is I, our Government, will not be giving any assurances to terrorists. Terrorists ought to know this: if they plan to kill Australians, the Australian Government will do what it can to protect Australian citizens including cooperate with other countries that also have an interest in stopping Jamah Islamiah, countries like Indonesia. And the one assurance I will give the terrorists is this, that the Australian Government will be looking after our citizens. Thank you.

21 Sep 2004

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