Peter Costello

Media Transcripts

Budget initiatives, $500 pensioner bonus, Gunns pulp mill, land audit, Indonesian terror threat - Doorstop Interview, Launceston Function Centre, Launceston

Doorstop Interview
Launceston Function Centre, Launceston

Monday, 9 July 2007
11:30am

 

SUBJECTS: Budget initiatives; $500 pensioner bonus; Gunns pulp mill; land audit; Indonesian terror threat

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

It is an opportunity to talk about some of the measures we have brought down in the Budget.  Those self-funded retirees and pensioners will have received a bonus in the last couple of weeks, a $500 bonus. And that is part of sharing the proceeds of strong economic growth around.  As you also know tax cuts began Sunday week ago and I think they are going to be very important to encourage more people into the workforce and building our economy stronger.

JOURNALIST:

Tasmania has an ageing population (inaudible)

TREASURER:

I think in a State like Tasmania the $500 bonus, both for self-funded retirees and pensioners will be really welcomed, because with a high proportion of people who are retired this is quite a significant sum.  It may help pay some of the bills, it may help with birthday presents for the kids or the grandkids and I think it will be warmly welcomed.  You can only do these things with strong economic growth and if we can keep economic growth going in this country then you are able to share the benefits with others.

JOURNALIST:

Speaking of strong economic growth, the State Government here is spruiking its Gunns pulp mill, which you would have heard of, do you think it is necessary for our economy?

TREASURER:

Well the Federal Government has its own environmental assessment which is going on and that will go on in accordance with the law.  It will look at all of the environmental issues, but if after an investigation it is shown that this won’t damage the environment in any meaningful sense, of course it will be a good thing because it will give extra employment opportunities for people in the region and additional growth for the State.

JOURNALIST:

In economic terms though do you think the state’s economy will flounder without a project like this?

TREASURER:

Well you have got to have good companies and good businesses to lead employment and to lead state economic growth. This is obviously a good business.  And provided that it doesn’t do damage to the environment – none of us wants to damage the environment – I think it would be good for Tasmania, and good for Australia in fact.

JOURNALIST:

What do you think the chances are of the Federal Government committing some money to upgrade our rail network here?

TREASURER:

Well we keep all of these things under review and under our Auslink programme, which is the largest investment in road and rail that Australia has ever seen, we assist projects on their economic merits and various projects are eligible for funding. So we will keep these things under review.

JOURNALIST:

Do you know when (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

No, I am not putting any timelines on these things but we have a huge investment.  We assess on the basis of economic case and those are projects which are Federal Government ones.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

Well the Federal Government does assist with funding (inaudible) under Australian Healthcare Agreements. That is something that we negotiate with the States.  The Federal Government of course also runs the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which is of benefit to all Australians and we have numbers of preventative and other health projects.  I think I can say to you that not only is health better funded at the federal level than ever before but the proportion of the Budget going on health is greater than ever before.

JOURNALIST:

The land audit has been criticised by the states, what’s your response to that?

TREASURER:

Well obviously if you want to bring prices down for first home buyers, increasing the supply is critical.  If you don’t increase the supply of housing you are not going to do anything meaningful in relation to prices, now what I want to do is I want to have an audit done, right around Australia in our big capital cities, and in some of the regional centres too where this is a problem.  Let’s identify land that can be released, whether it is privately owned, whether it is state government owned, whether it is Commonwealth owned – let’s identify it, let’s work out what the blockages are that are stopping this land becoming available to first home buyers.  Some of the Premiers have welcomed this and that is a good response, that is a practical response and it is a positive response.  And I think if all levels of government are prepared to work together we can get a meaningful fix on where the problems lie and how they can be dealt with.  And I would ask all of the Premiers to be positive in relation to this initiative.

JOURNALIST:

Should Australia be worried about security in terms of the terrorism threat in Indonesia?

TREASURER:

Well the Government has re-issued the warning and I would say to anybody who is thinking of going to Indonesia to look carefully at that warning, to avoid going to places where Westerners tend to congregate which could become targets, and think carefully about their security.  We have already had at least two incidents in Indonesia where Australians were the subject of attacks, and what that means is that there are people who still wish us ill and it is very important that travellers heed those warnings carefully.

JOURNALIST:

In the UK the new Security Minister there says that the UK could be fighting terrorism for (inaudible) years, is that the case for Australia?

TREASURER:

I think we are going to be fighting terrorism for a long time.  We will be fighting terrorism for as long as people like al-Qaeda propagate a mad ideology which is hostile to democracy and Western liberal countries like our own.  We will be fighting terrorism as long as people push the sick ideology of terror.  This could be a long haul and just as we had to defend our country during war in the past we will have to defend our country against terror in the future.  Thanks very much

9 Jul 2007

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