Peter Costello

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Queensland Trip, Budget Management, Tim Costello - Interview with David Koch, Sunrise

Interview with David Koch
Sunrise

Thursday, 21 July 2005
7.15 am

SUBJECTS: Queensland Trip, Budget Management, Tim Costello

KOCH:

Good morning to you Treasurer. Now, touring Fraser Island, whale watching at Hervey Bay, also the Cairns Show on the itinerary, why are you spending so much time up there?

TREASURER:

Well it is the opportunity to get out and see some regional areas. At the moment I am in Cairns as you know and we are going down to the Cairns Show later on and after that going up to Cape York to look at some of the Aboriginal communities and some of the projects that we have got going there and really to learn about those policy measures that are working, those that aren’t to try and get a bit more focus personally on those issues. And I have got to say that being out in the regional areas and seeing hundreds of people it is much better than being stuck in Canberra.

KOCH:

I can imagine. Do you find that as Treasurer though that you can tend to be cocooned away from the real Australia?

TREASURER:

Well, when you are doing federal Budgets they are so big – about $200 billion budgets – it takes about six months of the year and you get locked up in Canberra doing all of that and it is only when it is over that you get the opportunity to travel a bit wider and I have never been to Cape York for example. There is a lot of focus on some of the economic projects that are going on to help with the Aboriginal communities here and to come up here and to actually see them first hand is an opportunity I have never had. So you take those opportunities with both hands and put on your safari hat and go.

KOCH:

Do you sometimes or regret that that is downside of being Treasurer that you can be cocooned in Canberra as you say for the six months working on a Budget and you are almost always portrayed as being a bit mean, a bit hard-nosed, that it sort of drags the image down?

TREASURER:

Well at the end of the day you are responsible for meeting a Budget and that means for every dollar you spend you have got to raise it somewhere else and although the public quite often likes the spending of money they don’t like the taxing that comes with it…

KOCH:

Yeah, sure.

TREASURER:

…so that is the difficult part and you can’t afford to get it wrong. And as you know very well David, with markets trading continuously 24 hours a day across the world you have got to be very careful with financial management and you can’t afford too many slip-ups. So yes, that is the downside, you have got to focus an incredible focus all of the time and you don’t get that much time for other things but when you do it is a great and welcome change.

KOCH:

Because it must be hard to break that cynicism of a lot of people that would say, oh, he is just going up there to soften his image, to kiss a few babies, we know him as the hard-nosed Treasurer.

TREASURER:

Well look, there are a lot of cynical people around obviously, but at the end of the day when you are doing Budgets and I always think of this when you are trying to fund private health insurance rebate or when you are trying to get better facilities for schools, it is people on the end of all of these decisions and I guess the great thing is every now and then as you go out you see a decision you took working out in practice and people’s lives being improved, it just reminds you that really accounting is just a way to try and get a handle on how you are measurably improving services for people.

KOCH:

Yes because you come from, this is the contradiction isn’t it, because Lib and the kids and we were all talking about it at dinner last night, that you come from an amazing family. We have got to know your brother Tim pretty well with all of the great stuff that he does for World Vision and the Tsunami relief and he has such a caring image, there is you as the Treasurer, but you both come from the same family, same family values. Do you talk a lot, do you ask his advice on a lot of social issues because he is out there all the time?

TREASURER:

Well I don’t ask his advice but he certainly gives it to me David.

KOCH:

As brothers do.

TREASURER:

Well as an older brother would, you don’t have to ask, you can actually get it from time to time and quite often it is good advice, not always is it followed but as you say, it is always there.

KOCH:

Yes but you come from the same family, the same upbringing, there has got to be that caring side. Look we, here is a challenge, we owe Tim a lunch because he has done some terrific stuff for us in helping a lot of projects that we have helped him with, would you be prepared to come along so we can get to know you both?

TREASURER:

If I can, I would love to. You might recall you and I had a lunch in Sydney not so long ago…

KOCH:

Yes.

TREASURER:

…for Anglicare as I recall…

KOCH:

We certainly did.

TREASURER:

…and I have got to say David, I marvelled at your fundraising abilities that day.

KOCH:

Well let’s do that, let’s see if we can tie it up because I think we are all fascinated with the two of you and can’t believe you wouldn’t have picked up a lot of Tim’s caring side, so we will organise that and get in touch with your office. Thanks for joining us this morning.

TREASURER:

Well you can’t bring a camera along either, it has got to be no holds barred, David.

KOCH:

Oh okay, alright, well we will talk about that. Alright, thanks for your time and good luck with the rest of the itinerary, appreciate it.

TREASURER:

Thanks very much, thanks David.

21 Jul 2005

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