Peter Costello

Media Transcripts

Stamp duty, Reserve Bank, cattle industry, Northern Territory - Doorstop Interview, Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association Conference, Alice Springs

Doorstop Interview
Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association Conference, Alice Springs

Friday, 8 April 2005
3.50 pm CST

SUBJECTS: Stamp duty, Reserve Bank, cattle industry, Northern Territory

TREASURER:

Over the next five years from 1 July 2006, the Northern Territory will be receiving a windfall in GST of $683 million. The Federal Government has put forward a proposal which would see $101million of that cut by abolishing some stamp duties, as part of the original GST deal, still leaving the Territory in a windfall position. It is very important that the Agreement which introduced the GST is honoured in full, and that those other State stamp duties, which are subject to that Agreement, are abolished. And so I am calling on the Northern Territory government, together with the other States, to uphold the original Inter-Governmental Agreement to abolish stamp duties, and to use the growing GST windfall to do so.

JOURNALIST:

The Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank, Glenn Stevens, has said in Sydney today that the ReserveBank wrote to the Liberal Party, asking it to withdraw the Reserve Bank’s name from its election advertising, and that this wasn’t done. Is there any reason why that wasn’t done?

TREASURER:

Let me make it clear – the Reserve Bank has not been in touch with the Federal Liberal Party or the Federal Liberal Party campaign director. The Reserve Bank has lodged no complaint with me. Apparently what happened was that in an electorate somebody raised a leaflet with the Bank, which sent it across to the Australian Electoral Commission, and the Australian Electoral Commission found that it was in accordance with the Act. That is it. The Electoral Commission investigated it and found it was in accordance with the Act. So, it looks as if due process was followed. The independent Australian Electoral Commission, once it had a look at the matter, thought that there was no problem.

JOURNALIST:

Surely, though, the fact that they investigated it shows that they did have some serious concerns about the use of the Reserve Bank’s name on your electoral advertising?

TREASURER:

No. Somebody, as I understand it, somebody got in touch with the Reserve Bank. The ReserveBank did the proper thing. It referred it to the Australian Electoral Commission. The Australian Electoral Commission said no breach of the Act.

JOURNALIST:

So you don’t have any concerns about [inaudible]?

TREASURER:

None whatsoever. The Reserve Bank refers it to the Electoral Commission and the ElectoralCommission says consistent with the Act. Story over.

JOURNALIST:

Two board members of the Reserve Bank have commented on the reasons why interest rates were left steady earlier this week and that does break with certain protocols as far as commenting on the reasons for rate changes. Are you concerned that that undermines the Reserve Bank at all and their decision not to comment?

TREASURER:


Normally the statements on behalf of the Reserve Bank are made by the Governor, who is the Chairman of the Board. What individual Board members do is a matter for them and the rest of the Board to decide, and this is a matter that the Board will have to consider. It is not for me to advise them in relation to that.

JOURNALIST:

Are there any issues out of today’s Cattlemen’s meeting that you might take back to Canberra with you? May even sneak into the Budget, perhaps?

TREASURER:

Well look, I think that there was general interest in the fact that we are reforming the excise system further and we have laid down a plan to take all excise off business use of diesel and petrol. I also indicated the large sums that the Commonwealth has given under the Auslink programme to improve transport, particularly in Darwin, and I think there seems to be a lot of interest in that. And if I could get more free trade openings around the world to help out cattle exports, I think they would treat me as a hero, too. And I want to say I am working on that.

JOURNALIST:

The central Australian region isn’t having a fantastic time at the moment, sort of heading into drought conditions now. The Cattlemen’s Association have said that they’re going to try and put a bit of pressure on you to consider them in future for exceptional circumstances funding. Is that something you’re willing to look at?

TREASURER:

Well, the Commonwealth government I think is making available something like $1.8billion in drought assistance through the course of this drought. And we understand the plight that farmers have gone through. As I said in my speech - a one in a hundred year drought. The worst drought in a hundred years. And so we have got our drought assistance programmes going. Some of the issues that get raised with me are whether or not you can get it quickly enough, and whether or not we can streamline the procedures. And I think it is important that we do streamline the procedures. We are working on that, to make sure we get that money out faster. And that is one of the things that I am actually discussing with the cattlemen.

JOURNALIST:

So that’s a yes?

TREASURER:

And the cattlewomen, too.

JOURNALIST:

Just quickly – why did you choose central Australia (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

I think, look, can I say first of all, the cattlemen are a wonderful export industry for Australia and it is great to be with them. Secondly, I believe that the Northern Territory can be Australia’s premier tourist area, if it is not already. And wherever I go in the world, people want to know about the Territory as a tourist destination, and I recommend it. I thoroughly recommend it.

JOURNALIST:

Why do you love it so much?

TREASURER:

It’s warm.

JOURNALIST:

The CLP have had some tough times recently. We’re heading into an election. How clued-up or knowledgeable are you of their chances and their performance?

TREASURER:

Well, I have taken the opportunity to have a meeting with Denis Burke, the Leader of the Opposition, and to discuss financial matters here in the Territory. He has got a very good grip on the financial issues and we have been exchanging some information. I know that an election is looming and I know that he is going to be putting forward some exciting proposals. But that is for him to announce, not for me.

8 Apr 2005

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