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Which is it, Treasurer?

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Wayne Swan MP Federal Labor Shadow Treasurer


Peter Costello today was forced to correct an embarrassing gaffe on the source of the funds used to buy Barnaby Joyce’s Telstra vote.

At a press conference at noon, the Treasurer made the following statement:

“What we have said is that we will set aside $2 billion and it’s anticipated that will be part of the proceeds of the Telstra sale”.

Clearly he was unaware that the amendment to placate Barnaby Joyce guarantees the amount will be credited immediately after the Telstra Bills receive royal ascent.

He was also unaware that yesterday Finance Minister Minchin told the Senate that the $2 billion telecommunications fund would come from reserves held at the Reserve Bank.

To fix his gaffe, Peter Costello was forced to issue a clarifying statement:

“The Regional Telecommunications Fund will be established with $2 billion from cash reserves currently held at the Reserve Bank of Australia”.

It was a back-down that would make Back-down Barnaby proud.

This Telstra fire sale has exposed Government incompetence at the highest levels.

If the Treasurer hasn’t even had the time to get across all the details, why does he continue to insist the sale be rushed without appropriate scrutiny?

Tuesday 13 September 2005 Contact Jim Chalmers 0417 141 676