Peter Costello

Media Transcripts

Afghanistan Troops, Industrial Relations Reform - Interview with Tracey Grimshaw, Today Show

Interview with Tracey Grimshaw
Today Show

Wednesday, 13 July 2005

7.14 am

SUBJECTS: Afghanistan Troops, Industrial Relations Reform

GRIMSHAW:

Good morning Treasurer.

TREASURER:

Good morning, good to be with you.

GRIMSHAW:

Good to have you. You have said that the money is there for our renewed troop commitment to Afghanistan, how much do you think it is going to cost?

TREASURER:

Well I expect that an announcement will be made today and full details of what the Government has decided will be put forward so I won’t be commenting on any specifics. But I can tell you that over recent Budgets there has been a very substantial build-up in spending for defence, that has gone hand in hand with East Timor, the Solomon Islands, Afghanistan, Iraq and measures to combat terrorism. So, Australia has a strong capability, some of those commitments are winding down particularly in East Timor and that means that our forces have adequate capability to meet the needs where they can help the fight against terrorism whether it be in Afghanistan or anywhere else.

GRIMSHAW:

In costing an operation like this, obviously you know how many troops we will be committing and I don’t know if you will tell us or give us an idea this morning - we are hearing up to 1,000 – I presume you also have an idea of a timeframe do you, how they long will be there for?

TREASURER:

Well sure, when you are looking at a commitment, a military commitment, you have got to first identify the need, the response that is required, the way the response fits in with other commitments and the timing. And these are all things that are discussed and when the announcement is made I expect that full details will be given in relation to all of those.

GRIMSHAW:

So in other words there is an exit strategy, this is not an open-ended commitment, you would expect that this will be for a period of time, is that what you are suggesting?

TREASURER:

Well normally you have a look at the need and how a particular contribution is going to be made. Let’s look at Australia’s last troop commitment in Afghanistan, we made a commitment to help with the overthrow of the Taliban, to establish the democracy which is now taking route, our troops were very, very professional, they did a great job, when their job was finished they came back to Australia. So it is a question of doing the job, finishing the job, making the contribution.

GRIMSHAW:

Just on that previous timeframe, Labor says we pulled out too soon in 2002, is this new commitment an admission of that, if we had stayed longer might Afghanistan not be in this position now?

TREASURER:

Well hang on, in Afghanistan the Taliban regime was overthrown, the Al Qaeda camps were dismantled and a democracy was established. Now that democracy like any fledgling democracy will take time before it can adequately get its own fighting forces and secures its country, there are international NATO forces that have continued, there is a lot of reconstruction work to be done. Our troops are absolutely first class, in relation to the overthrow of the Taliban they did their job and now if there is a capacity in which they can return and help, particularly given the fact some of our other commitments are beginning to scale down, that is something the Government has to carefully consider.

GRIMSHAW:

Treasurer, in the time we have left I would like to turn to industrial relations reforms, the Bureau of Statistics says today that the majority of workers on individual contracts are worse off than those on collective agreements and in another survey today, a Dun and Bradstreet survey suggests that 80 per cent of businesses do not expect that the new unfair dismissal changes will prompt them to hire more staff. How do those two results fit with Government promises on better pay and more jobs?

TREASURER:

Well if you have a look at that Dun and Bradstreet survey, I thought that was a very interesting survey because 17 per cent of employers said they were more likely to hire as a result of these industrial relations changes. Now let’s think about this, if 17 per cent of Australian employers hired more workers, remember this, the 80 per cent didn’t say they were likely to dismiss, they just said that they wouldn’t put on more, but 17 per cent said they were likely to put on more. If 17 per cent of Australian employers were to put on more workers, that is many more jobs. Actually if you look at that survey, that is a survey that says here is a practical, concrete way that employers believe would make them more likely to create new jobs, you don’t want to dismiss that. I actually thought when you look carefully at that survey it showed that this was practical, demonstrable help for those in our community that are still unemployed, they are the people that we are looking to help by getting them into work.

GRIMSHAW:

Even if 80 per cent of employers say it is not going to change anything that they are not going to hire anybody new.

TREASURER:

Well 80 per cent say no change, right, I am not going to put anybody off, but 17 per cent say more likely to put somebody on. Who else has got an idea going around at the moment that would lead 17 per cent of employers to hire more employees. 17 per cent of Australian employers hiring more employees would amount to many, many thousands, tens of thousands, possibly 100 thousand new jobs. And why would we sit down and say we are against creating those new jobs? I think the unemployed out there would look at this and say, now that you know there is a proposal that can give us a job, why don’t you give us a job and give us a go, and that is the way I looked at that Dun and Bradstreet survey.

GRIMSHAW:

Alright, good of you to join us this morning, it looks a bit nippy down there, have a nice time in the drought district.

TREASURER:

I am in Shepparton and it has been in drought for several years but the weather looks pretty good at the moment I have got to say to you.

GRIMSHAW:

Well good news, let’s hope it rains on you today, no disrespect.

TREASURER:

Thank you.

13 Jul 2005

View more media transcripts …

Latest News

Paris Diary

Peter Costello Paris Diary

Read more …

PPI - Rising Role of Sovereign Wealth Funds

Peter Costello Rising Role of Sovereign Funds Speech

Read more …

The Hole Truth

Peter Costello in the Daily Telegraph

Read more …

Videos

Video Screenshot

Watch videos …