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Transcript of doorstop interview: Treasury Place, Melbourne: Wednesday, 14 July 2004: economy; Goldstein; nuclear waste.



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TRANSCRIPT

THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP Treasurer

Doorstop Interview Treasury Place, Melbourne

Wednesday, 14 July 2004 12.45 pm

SUBJECTS: Economy; Goldstein; Nuclear waste

TREASURER:

Today the Westpac Melbourne Institute survey of consumer sentiment shows that consumer sentiment jumped in the month of July to its highest level in ten years. And the reason why consumer sentiment was so strong in the month of July, is that people were confident of low mortgage interest rates, unemployment is now at 21 year lows and in addition to that the Federal Government’s assistance for families and income tax cuts are both coming on stream in the month of July.

So, the fact that consumer sentiment is so strong and now at a ten year record high indicates that people are confident about the direction of the economy, about their own family finances and that confidence should underpin strong economic growth. Low unemployment, low inflation, low interest rates, strong consumer sentiment are all consistent with a growing economy which will give all Australians better opportunities.

JOURNALIST:

Is there any danger of the economy overheating Treasurer?

TREASURER:

I don’t think there is a danger of inflation breaking out. Inflation is forecast to remain low at around 2 per cent, towards the bottom of our band, and of course you are seeing in relation to housing construction a slowing - prices are coming off, auction clearances are down, slowing in relation to finances. So, there does appear to be a little bit of slowing going in the residential housing construction and the fact that consumer sentiment is strong actually should offset that to some degree and give us a good year of growth in the year which is ahead.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible) pressure on inflation (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

No, we are forecasting inflation to continue low and to continue around the bottom of the band of around 2 per cent.

JOURNALIST:

Just on another matter Treasurer, do you expect Michael Kroger will stand as a candidate for preselection in the seat of Goldstein?

TREASURER:

Let me say first of all, that David Kemp has been a cabinet colleague of mine and a senior Minister over a long period of time, since 1996, he has made a great contribution to Australia in education and in the environment. He has been a great Member for Goldstein and we will miss him and I pay tribute to him and his family for the work and the commitment that he has shown over the years. As to who will nominate, if Michael Kroger were to nominate for Goldstein, obviously he would be a very strong candidate and he would be a great Member of Parliament. If Andrew Robb were to put his hat in the ring, obviously he would be a very strong candidate and a great Member of Parliament, but I can’t tell you at the moment who is going to nominate…

JOURNALIST:

Have you had a talk at all with Mr Kroger about it?

TREASURER:

…well, a number of people have discussed the issue with me, yes, a number of people have discussed the issue with me, but whether or not they nominate is a matter for them. I can’t speak on their behalf.

JOURNALIST:

You don’t think (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

You would have to ask him, you would have to ask him. I can’t tell you whether or not he is keen, a number of people have spoken to me about the possibility of them nominating, the way things happen in the Liberal Party is that we always have a nomination process and I am just pleased that there are some strong candidates out there.

JOURNALIST:

Will you be publicly backing anybody in the preselection contest though? Will you be throwing your weight behind any official candidates?

TREASURER:

Look, the only thing I would say is I hope we get the very best Member of Parliament for Goldstein and somebody who can as big a contribution to the Government as David did and from the Victorian point of view, somebody who can become a senior minister. I think it is important that we get a candidate who will not only represent Goldstein well, but somebody who can be a senior Minister, that is my view.

JOURNALIST:

Michael Kroger has been (inaudible) time that he made the move?

TREASURER:

It is a matter for Mr Kroger whether or not he nominates, everybody has got the opportunity including him, all you have got to do is get a nomination form and fill it in and lodge it.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think it is (inaudible) nuclear water dumps all over Australia because we can’t have one?

TREASURER:

Well, the opportunity to have a national low-level nuclear waste dump in South Australia was defeated by the South Australian Government. Now, the South Australian Government wins a court appeal defeating it, the outcome is that all of the States will have to dispose of their own waste, and as I understand it, all of the States are currently holding low-level radioactive waste, probably in their hospitals or research facilities, most probably somewhere here in Melbourne, probably in a hospital where it is already being held. The idea was to collect all of that and to have one national storage in South Australia. As it turns out the South Australian Government was able to defeat that by winning a court action. So, I imagine that the low-level radioactive waste will be held where it currently is.

JOURNALIST:

That is probably not a good idea though, is it?

TREASURER:

Well, the best idea would have been if the South Australian Government hadn’t have been able to defeat this in the court, but it did, and the consequence of that is that all of the States will now have to hold their own low-level radioactive waste, and as I understand it, that will be in the hospitals and research facilities where it is being used.

JOURNALIST:

The Commonwealth gave up pretty easily though didn’t it? I mean they could have found another (inaudible).

TREASURER:

No, the matter was taken to court, the Commonwealth was defeated in the court, and we are abiding by the court decision, the court decision said that it couldn’t be done in South Australia, well that is the end of it.

JOURNALIST:

Any pressure on interest rates with all of this good news on the economy?

TREASURER:

Well, I never comment on the future direction of interest rates.

JOURNALIST:

How about the GDP forecast?

TREASURER:

No, there is a forecast in the Budget. OK, thanks.

© Commonwealth of Australia 2000