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Transcript of doorstop interview: Liberal Party Federal Secretariat, Barton: Thursday, 11 December 2003: Tax Cuts, Cadman Report, Republic, Andrew Bartlett, Mark Latham.\n



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TREASURER

www.treasurer.gov.au

PRESS RELEASE

NO.

TRANSCRIPT

THE HON PETER COSTELLO MP

Treasurer

Doorstop Interview

Liberal Party Federal Secretariat

Thursday, 11 December 2003

9.30 am

E & OE

SUBJECTS: Tax Cuts, Cadman Report, Republic, Andrew Bartlett, Mark Latham

JOURNALIST:

Are you sympathetic for tax cuts for families rather than those on the high income tax threshold?

TREASURER:

Well, the Government has put in place numbers of tax cuts which have improved the position of families. Single income families have tax-free thresholds up around about $22,000, with additional children families sometimes, single income families sometimes don’t pay any tax until their income gets to about $40,000. So, the benefits for families which this Government has put in place are quite extensive.

JOURNALIST:

So they don’t deserve any more help?

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TREASURER:

Well, I, somebody was suggesting in the paper this morning that the tax-free threshold can be lifted to $12,000, it is very, very, for a single income family, very far in excess of $12,000 at the moment. To put it at $12,000 would actually be a lesser benefit than currently applies.

JOURNALIST:

Have you read the Cadman report?

TREASURER:

I read it in the paper this morning, yes.

JOURNALIST:

OK, is it something that you will pursue?

TREASURER:

The current tax system is more generous than what he is advocating, that is the tax free threshold for a single income family at the moment is more than $12,000…

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer…

TREASURER:

…he was advocating a $12,000 threshold, but it is already more than $12,000.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, as a republican, do you welcome Mark Latham’s move to put the issue back on the national agenda?

TREASURER:

Well, I think that the proposal he has put is obviously flawed…

JOURNALIST:

Why is that?

TREASURER:

…because I don’t think you can run a Westminster system with a US style presidency, so I think he will have to do some work on that, and I don’t think it is well thought out.

JOURNALIST:

If it were parliamentary appointed would you support it, again?

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TREASURER:

Well, I did. I was, as you know, part of the campaign and I supported that model, I am not sure if Mr Latham was involved in it actually, I don’t recall him taking a big part in it.

JOURNALIST:

Is he a Johnny-come-lately to republicanism?

TREASURER:

Well, I don’t think he has thought out his position. Like all of the things that you hear from Mr Latham, it is one position one day, another position another day. I don’t think he has thought out how you actually marry a Westminster system with a US model.

JOURNALIST:

Would you look forward to working along side with Mr Latham if the end goal was for Australia to become a republic?

TREASURER:

Mr Latham is very unstable on policy issues, and the experience we have had is that he changes his position from day to day, and you can’t actually rely on his position on policy.

JOURNALIST:

Do you stand by likening Mr Latham’s taxi driver incident to Andrew Bartlett’s incident in the Senate Chamber?

TREASURER:

Of course, yes. Andrew Bartlett as you know, got drunk and manhandled one of the Liberal Senators; Mark Latham when he got drunk, attacked and broke the collarbone of a taxi driver.

JOURNALIST:

Some people say that the taxi driver stole from him.

TREASURER:

No…

JOURNALIST:

I am not saying…

TREASURER:

…no, its, I’m sorry, Mr Latham refused to pay his fare, and a taxi driver is entitled to try and get a fare from a paying passenger.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Latham has made…

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TREASURER:

Now, if you are…

JOURNALIST:

…by the taxi driver.

TREASURER:

…well, The Daily Telegraph has been into all of this, and it is all on the record. As it turned out, when The Daily Telegraph went back, and the taxi driver was taking Mr Latham home the shortest route. Now, Mr Latham was a few drinks under the weather, and maybe didn’t appreciate that, but you have got to pay your taxi fares, and if you don’t pay your taxi fares, you are not entitled to hit taxi drivers. Violence against taxi drivers is a real problem in Sydney.

JOURNALIST:

Are you surprised that Andrew Bartlett is still in his job?

TREASURER:

Well, look it is a matter for the Democrats, it is a matter for the Democrats isn’t it? And they will make their decision, but as I pointed out, he wouldn’t be the only political leader at the moment who has engaged in an assault.

JOURNALIST:

Just back on the republic issue, Mr Costello, is it too early to revisit it at this stage?

TREASURER:

Well, look, I think that it is something that the Australian public will revisit when they are ready for it. And I don’t think the answer will be marrying the US system into the Westminster system. I think that is a problem, and people who say we will have a US President on the British Westminster type system, I don’t think have thought through all of the detail, and I think that it is important that they do.

JOURNALIST:

But that technicality aside, do you think…

TREASURER:

It is not a technicality, it, this is a deep constitutional doctrine as to whether or not you are going to have a government which is answerable to the parliament with its ministers drawn from the parliament, or whether you are going to have a government which is, whose figure head and Chief Executive Officer is drawn from the people. This is a very important constitutional...

JOURNALIST:

But in the end the Australian people will get to make that choice, are you pleased that at least they will be given a choice again? Or given…

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TREASURER:

Well, I…

JOURNALIST:

…the chance to have a say on the republic?

TREASURER:

…I was engaged in the last one. I think nobody would, with the exception of a few, no Members of Parliament engaged in as much as I did.

JOURNALIST:

If the republic was given the opportunity of a republican model under which the President is appointed by Parliament, do you believe Australians would vote to ditch the Queen?

TREASURER:

Well, I have argued that a model by which the Head of State was appointed either by the Parliament, or by council, would fit well with the Westminster system. I am on the record, I was one of the earliest people that actually argued that.