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Treasurer and Shadow Minister comment on forthcoming Budget; and the Prime Minister's retirement.

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Monday 13 May 2002


Treasurer and Shadow Minister comment on forthcoming Budget; and the Prime Minister's retirement


LINDA MOTTRAM: Weeks of leaks and speculation will be put to rest tomorrow, when Treasurer Peter Costello hands down his seventh Federal budget.  


What won't go away though is the talk about Mr Costello’s future, with this budget being seen not just as an economic blueprint but, at least in Labor’s eyes, as Mr Costello’s application for the Prime Minister’s job.  


John Howard has made it clear there’s no vacancy and the Treasurer says the issue has not been beating inside his head but they do have a date with destiny hinged on the Prime Minister’s comment that he’ll consider his future next year when he turns sixty four and Mr Costello saying he expects the Prime Minister, as a man of his word, to do what he said he would.  


In a moment we’ll hear from another Howard frontbencher who’s touted as a possible future leader, the Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott but first this report from our political correspondent Mark Willacy in Canberra. 


MARK WILLACY: When Peter Costello strides to the despatch box tomorrow night he’ll equal Harold Holt's mark of seven budgets. Another thing Mr Costello would like to share with the former Prime Minister is a smooth transition from the Treasurer’s Office to the top job.  


But after John Howard told a Sydney newspaper on the weekend; "I don’t want to leave the position. I don’t think the public wants me to," Peter Costello is keeping a lid on his leadership ambitions.  


PETER COSTELLO: I haven’t been at all focused on this. Haven’t said anything about it, haven’t been focusing on it. I have more important work to do next week then to worry about that. This is not something that has been beating inside my head. 


MARK WILLACY: Peter Costello speaking on Channel Nine. The prospect of him taking the top job is certainly beating inside Labor heads. Bob McMullan is Labor’s Treasurery spokesman and one of the Opposition’s key strategists.  


BOB McMULLAN: The probability is that he will be easier to beat than John Howard but there’s no doubt that the Treasurer sees this particular budget as part of his job application for the job of Prime Minister and I think most Australians think he ought to be worrying about their jobs.  


MARK WILLACY: The Treasurer has promised that his seventh budget will give priority to securing future job opportunities. Another key feature will the stepping up of domestic security. 


PETER COSTELLO: What I am going to lay down on Tuesday night is a five year plan to upgrade Australia’s border protection facilities, including some new measures, some quite expensive measures which will lay down a build up for a period of five years. 


MARK WILLACY: Also released with tomorrow night’s budget the Treasurer’s much touted Inter-generational Report which, according to Mr Costello, will outline Australia’s health needs for the next forty years.  


Labor’s Treasury spokesman Bob McMullan sees another reason for Peter Costello branching out into new territory. 


BOB McMULLAN: Well the problem is the Inter-generational Report is about political generational change. It’s the longest job application in Australian history. 


MARK WILLACY: When Parliament resumes tomorrow it will have been fifty-three days since it last sat and much to Labor’s irritation, question time has been cancelled to make room for a condolence motion for the Queen Mother. Don’t expect a speech from Labor’s Bob McMullan. 


BOB McMULLAN: Well its just part of a pattern of scandalous arrogance by this Government. They think they’re not answerable to anybody anymore.  


The Parliament’s scarcely sat in the last eight months and we have twice as long a condolence debate for the Queen Mother as they had in the United Kingdom Parliament. Now that’s a Government that’s just out of touch. 


LINDA MOTTRAM: Labor’s Treasurery spokesman Bob McMullan.