Peter Costello

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Medical research funding, jobs, economy, Peter Garrett - Doorstop Interview, Parkville

TRANSCRIPT
of
THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP
Treasurer

Doorstop Interview
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Royal Children’s Hospital, Parkville

Friday, 11 June 2004
11.15 am

 

SUBJECTS: Medical research funding, jobs, economy, Peter Garrett

TREASURER:

This is a very significant grant, this is $2.5 million to buy a new MRI machine for the Royal Children’s Hospital and for the Murdoch Research Institute. The Murdoch Research Institute is one of the premier medical institutes of Australia and the world and with a new MRI machine, what they will be able to do, particularly with premature babies, is to do imaging early, to locate any neurological problems if they exist and start treatment early. And for families in Victoria who have premature kids this is great news, it is great news for the community because many of those kids will be helped to overcome problems which might otherwise afflict them, and for the international research benefits it will bring to Melbourne, this is really important as well. So, it is great day for Murdoch and it is a great day for the Children’s Hospital.

JOURNALIST:

And what prompted the (inaudible) funds?

TREASURER:

Well, I had the opportunity to visit the unit earlier this year in February to see the important work they were doing, to talk them about some of the needs, and they had a need for a new machine which was state of the art, and in our recent Budget we took the opportunity to increase spending on health and medical research and also to increase it on what we call infrastructure, the physical needs that go with it and as part of that process the Murdoch Institute was successful for a grant of $2.5 million, and it is great for the Children’s Hospital, for the Murdoch Institute, for the children of Victoria and for Victoria and Australia generally.

JOURNALIST:

Just on a different subject, the jobs figures that came out this week, we haven’t had a really, you know, what did you make of them?

TREASURER:

Well, unemployment fell to 5.5 per cent nationally which is the lowest in 23 years, and that is what economic policy is all about, trying to create jobs for people. The more people you get in work, the more they have better opportunities, it strengthens the economy because you are paying less in unemployment benefits and collecting more in income taxes, and to have unemployment down to its lowest level for 23 years, is something we welcome very much, we can’t rest on our laurels, we have to keep it going, that is my message…

JOURNALIST:

And you must be pretty happy with what the RBA was saying last week?

TREASURER:

…well…

JOURNALIST:

On the economy.

TREASURER:

…look, the Australian economy is growing, it is not without difficulties, we have got world oil prices at records, rising interest rates around the world, we are still not through drought, but if we can keep the Australian economy growing and unemployment low, that is the object of economic policy.

JOURNALIST:

Are you saying a rate rise could be on the agenda before the election?

TREASURER:

I am not going to talk about future rate rises.

JOURNALIST:

Do you find Peter Garrett’s account of electoral enrolment and voting practices over the past decade or so, odd?

TREASURER:

Well, I will make this point, if you are running for Parliament, you are asking other people to vote for you, the very least you could do would be to register and vote in elections yourself, and if you haven’t been interested enough to have registered and voted in elections, it is a bit rich to ask other people to vote for you. Somebody said, like the Pope saying he hadn’t been to church for ten years, a politician who hasn’t cast a valid vote for ten years who then wants to be elected to the Parliament is a bit rich in my view.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think it is appropriate that his voting history should be laid bare in public?

TREASURER:

It is very appropriate that people know whether or not he was interested enough in politics to get himself on the electoral roll. You know, millions of Australians register and millions of Australians vote and they never seek political office and if you are interested enough in political office to seek to be elected by other people, you could at least show enough interest to get yourself on the role and to vote. And I think it is highly, highly relevant to how committed you are to the political processes.

JOURNALIST:

And renewed threat to…

TREASURER:

You know, if you wanted to be an AFL footballer it would be a surprise if you had never turned up and watched the match before, wouldn’t it? If you wanted to be elected Archbishop it would be surprising if you hadn’t found time to get to church. If you want to be elected to the Parliament, you haven’t got yourself on the electoral roll for the last ten years. It is rather surprising to me, I think a lot of people who vote, by the way because they are afraid of being fined $50, will wonder how it was that Mr Garrett, who now wants to be elected by other people, didn’t find it interesting enough to get himself on the role.

JOURNALIST:

There have been reports about renewed threats to Australians in Indonesia.

TREASURER:

Yes, well the Government is watching threats against Australian diplomats in Indonesia very carefully and if anything more is to be said publicly, that will be said by the Foreign Minister.

11 Jun 2004

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