Peter Costello

Media Transcripts

Latham, economic management, election, Liverpool Council

TRANSCRIPT

THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Doorstop Interview
Commonwealth Parliament Offices
Waterfront Place, Brisbane

Tuesday, 20 July 2004
4.35 pm

 

SUBJECT: Latham, economic management, election, Liverpool Council

TREASURER:

It is very interesting to see that today Mr Latham has tried to downplay the significance of the economy as an issue in Australia. There is an obvious reason for that. Firstly he promised that he would have a tax policy in Budget week and he hasn’t been able to produce it. Secondly he said that Pricewaterhouse would be auditing the ALP election promises and Pricewaterhouse put out a statement saying they refused to do it, that they won’t be doing it. And thirdly, when Mr Latham’s record on Liverpool Council was exposed, he tried to hide it and misrepresent the fact that he had left the Liverpool Council in deficit by claiming that he left it in surplus. Now, all of this adds up to someone who by reason of his record, and someone who by reason of his policy doesn’t have the understanding of Australia’s economy which is required to keep people in work and to keep mortgage interest rates down. And he won’t be able to run away from the problem by saying it is not important. The economy is vitally important to millions of Australians who want jobs and who want to be able to pay their mortgages. If you muck up an economy, people lose their jobs. If you muck up interest rates, people lose their houses. The economy is absolutely essential for the opportunities for millions of Australians and Mr Latham can’t wish it away as an issue, it is going to be a crucial issue at the next federal election.

JOURNALIST:

So are you saying that Mark Latham is just trying to get this off the agenda because he is weak on this issue?

TREASURER:

Yes, Mark Latham is trying to wish away economic management as an issue and it is obvious why. He promised a tax policy and he has been unable to produce it. He said he was going to have his promises independently costed but his Pricewaterhouse accounting firm has said that they won’t be doing that. And then he has got a record on the Liverpool Council which is a record that no Mayor in Australia would be proud of, which he can’t cover up. And he was given ample opportunity last night on the Lateline program to explain his management of the Liverpool Council and he couldn’t do so. Now, if you can’t run a council you can’t run a country and that is the unfortunate thing for Mr Latham.

JOURNALIST:

But the polls are saying that Labor still has a lead.

TREASURER:

Well polls will come and polls will go but Labor can’t be trusted with economic management. They are putting forward someone as Prime Minister whose greatest contribution to the economic debate is to say it is not important. You can’t wish this away. The state of the Australian economy will determine whether or not people will have work, whether or not companies make a profit, whether or not people can pay their mortgages. Just by saying it is not important will not make it go away and Mr Latham, I think, has committed a fundamental error of political judgement today by trying to downplay the significance of an issue which affects every Australian.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, the Opposition Leader today visited the Big Brother house on the Gold Coast. What does that suggest to you about his campaigning?

TREASURER:

Well, it is full of distractions. You won’t hear Mark Latham talking about people’s mortgages and their jobs or their economic future because he is too busy going onto the Big Brother set. You won’t be able to distract people from the things that count forever and I think this is Mr Latham’s problem. He is trying to distract people from the things that count, he is trying to downplay the importance of the economy. He won’t focus on getting out an economic policy and the reason is quite clear, you can’t trust Labor with your job, you can’t trust Labor with your mortgage.

JOURNALIST:

That sounds like an election slogan.

TREASURER:

If you can’t govern a council, you can’t govern a country.

JOURNALIST:

You are full of them.

TREASURER:

Thank you very much.

20 Jul 2004

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