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Shadow Treasurer responds to comments made by Treasurer about flow-on of petrol rebates and issue of budget grants being called loans.



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Simon Crean - Shadow Treasurer

Interview with Alexandra Kirk

Subject: Petrol Rebate, Budget Grants

Transcript - ABC Radio, AM - 31 May 2000

Correction

In my interview on 'AM' this morning, I inadvertently referred to a grant as a loan. The transcript is below and the error clearly marked.

But the context is clear. Costello is one out in calling it a loan. Not one State Government or Attorney-General agrees with him.

I have corrected the record. It is time for Mr Costello to do the same.

E & OE - Proof Only

PRESENTER: Well, we've just had a call from the Shadow Treasurer, Simon Crean, who wants to react to what the Treasurer had to say earlier in the program. He's now speaking to Alexandra Kirk.

KIRK: Mr Crean, what's your response to what the Treasurer had to say?

CREAN: Well, firstly, on the petrol question the Treasurer says he doesn't understand what allegations have been made about his rebate. The Deputy Commissioner, Deputy Chairman of the ACCC said last night he could not guarantee that there would be a full flow on of the rebates. That's the prices watchdog in evidence before the Senate Committee. They say they can't guarantee it will be passed on. If the prices watchdog can't guarantee it, who's going to believe the Treasurer ... his commitment to regional Australia?

KIRK: Well, Mr Costello says that he'll use the force of public embarrassment to ensure that that happens.

CREAN: The only embarrassment in this is the Treasurer. He is totally offside in terms of the bush because he believes that the solution to the bush is cutting their wages. He believes that they also should have limits placed on the amount of return that they get so far as the GST is concerned. The ACCC says they can't guarantee it. If the prices watchdog can't guarantee it, no amount of so-called embarrassment by the Treasurer is going to produce it. The second thing that the Treasurer said today is that one State

agrees with him that his shonky Budget fix, in terms of the payment to them, is a loan. Not one State agrees. He quoted Queensland, and they have come back and said that they treat it as a loan [a grant] because their Auditor General, in every State, treats it as a loan [a grant]. Now, Peter Costello is trying to say it doesn't matter what the Auditor General says. Of course, it matters what the Auditor General says. The Auditor General is the keeper of the accounts. And if the keeper of the accounts says it's a grant, it's a grant and the only person that's saying it's not a grant is the Treasurer. He's in denial because he's cooked the Budget books.

KIRK: Simon Crean, thanks very much.

ENDS

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.