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Transcript of doorstop interview of the Treasurer: Caulfield RSL Club, St George's Road, Elsternwick: October 5, 2004: Hole in Medicare Gold, Carmen Lawrence and interest rates.\n



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05/10/2004

TRANSCRIPT

THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP

Treasurer

Doorstop Interview

Caulfield RSL Club St George’s Road, Elsternwick

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

11.45 am

E & OE

SUBJECTS: Hole in Medicare Gold, Carmen Lawrence and interest rates

TREASURER:

This morning the AMA has released a report concluding that Mr Latham’s so-called Medicare Gold will not work. It will not result in a 12 per cent cut in private health insurance, it will add next to nothing for the total pool of available funding and it is under costed, under funded and undeliverable.

Labor’s health policy is in tatters. We have now had the AMA, Access Economics, Econtech, the leading health actuaries - they have all said that Medicare Gold will not work and Mr Latham’s health policy is now in tatters.

And serious questions today have also been raised over the ALP economic policy. We have a report in The West Australian saying that Carmen Lawrence, the Federal ALP President, is warning of a rise in interest rates, ‘Dr Lawrence,’ according The West Australian, ‘said she would agree with such a decision because the cost of housing was getting dangerously high.’

Now what you have got here is you have got the ALP Federal President softening up the electorate for an interest rate rise and saying that an interest rate rise would do good in the economy. And let me tell you that is Labor’s view, it is not the Coalition’s view. We believe for a strong economy you need low interest rates, that is why we have delivered them over the last eight years and any softening up or suggestion that somehow the Australian economy could be helped in some way with rising interest rates we reject. We call on Mr Latham to repudiate the comments of Carmen Lawrence today and to discipline his own Federal President. Thank you.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello did your Party Room want the Prime Minister to serve a full term (inaudible) elected?

TREASURER:

The Prime Minister has made his position entirely clear and I have nothing to add to it.

JOURNALIST:

He said this morning that he will go with whatever continuance the Party wants, does the same apply to you with the position of Treasurer?

TREASURER:

Well the same applies to me in the position of Deputy Leader, I can tell you that. You have got to be elected to be Deputy Leader…

JOURNALIST:

Is that (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

…and the Party Room can elect you or not. So obviously my position as Deputy Leader is in the hands of the Party.

JOURNALIST:

So if the PM stays on for a full term you will be right there with him?

TREASURER:

Well I have made it entirely clear that I am running in this election for re-election as the Member for Higgins for three years, I am running to be re-elected as Treasurer and I am not going to turn this economy over to Simon Crean I will tell you that. I mean why would we have worked so hard to get the Australian economy to where it is just to see Mr Simon Crean inherit it and mismanage it? No, no, we are working very hard in this election.

JOURNALIST:

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night thinking that you are never going to be Prime Minister?

TREASURER:

I tell you what, I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about the fact that next Saturday night people’s mortgages could rely on Mark Latham. People’s businesses could rely on Mark Latham. That is enough to put me into a cold sweat. If I look tired it is because I have thought of that in the middle of the night.

JOURNALIST:

Does it ever occur to you though that it is never going to happen?

TREASURER:

Well as I said, I told you what I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about, and that is what I think about. Can you imagine? I say to people this: if Carmen Lawrence today says: oh higher interest rates might be good for the economy - she is the President of the ALP. Mark Latham could be elected on Saturday and he is in control of your mortgage - think about that, just think about that. That is enough to break anybody into a cold sweat.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Costello, how long are you willing to wait to become Prime Minister?

TREASURER:

Well I am running for Treasurer here.

JOURNALIST:

You don’t want the top job?

TREASURER:

Well I think I have just said three or four times I am running for Treasurer.

JOURNALIST:

Never ever Mr Costello?

TREASURER:

I think I have just said five times now what I am running for.

JOURNALIST:

What about in the future?

TREASURER:

That will be the sixth.

JOURNALIST:

What about after the next election?

TREASURER:

I think that was the sixth time, let me say for the sixth time, I am running for Treasurer. Try me on the seventh. Can I also say that David Southwick is an outstanding candidate for Melbourne Ports and I have been here campaigning with him today because he represents the opportunity for Melbourne Ports to have a fresh start and I would say to the people of Melbourne Ports, you have a real choice in this election on Saturday, David with the business background that he has, with the community support that he has and the freshness that he will bring or the incumbent. And I would urge people in the seat of Melbourne Ports to very, very carefully consider a vote for David Southwick and the Liberal Party on Saturday. Thanks very much.

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