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Costello's gambling problem: ten-year sentence.



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Media Release

BOB McMULLAN MP SHADOW TREASURER FEDERAL MEMBER FOR FRASER

TELEPHONE: (02) 6277 4803 ! FACSIMILE: (02) 6277 8496

7 March 2002

COSTELLO’S GAMBLING PROBLEM/ TEN-YEAR SENTENCE

If Peter Costello had not been asleep at the wheel, the government would by now have worked through the bulk of the massive losses from its foreign currency swaps debacle.

But it took him four years to recognise the problem, and on his own admission it will be another six years before the outstanding debts will be paid off. That is the Treasurer’s ten-year sentence on the Australian people.

Treasury figures show that under Mr Costello’s management of the foreign currency swaps program, which uses financial arrangements called currency swaps to help manage Australia’s foreign borrowings, the government has lost $4.8 billion over the past four years.

It is Australian taxpayers who have been landed with Peter Costello’s gambling debts.

A Productivity Commission report found Australia’s 290,000 problem gamblers lose $3.5 billion a year. ‘Casino’ Costello has single-handedly cost Australian taxpayers even more than that.

Mr Costello was happy in his press conference today to boast about the benefits to the economy of the unrealised gains from rising asset prices.

But he does not accept the corollary: that he should face up to the unrealised losses arising from his mismanagement of the foreign currency swaps program.

Further information: Robert Garran (02) 6277 4803, 0419 692 504