Ballarat Prisoner of War Memorial, Deer Park By-Pass, Family First, Labour Force Figures, World Oil Prices – Doorstop Interview, Ballarat

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Ballarat Prisoner of War Memorial, Deer Park By-Pass, Family First, Labour Force Figures, World Oil Prices – Doorstop Interview, Ballarat




Doorstop Interview

Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial


Thursday, 7 October 2004

11.55 am


SUBJECTS: Ballarat Prisoner of War Memorial, Deer ParkBy-Pass,

Family First, Labour Force Figures, World Oil Prices


Well it is a pleasure to be here today in Ballarat with Elizabeth Matuschka

the Liberal candidate and it was a wonderful opportunity to see the Prisoner

of War Memorial which is a very moving memorial and which I think is a great

tribute to Australia’s prisoners of war and to the people of Ballarat that

have put it together.

The city of Ballarat has previously written to the Federal Government and

asked for a contribution of $290,000 to help with the business plan to complete

the memorial and to make it fully operational and I have just informed the

committee that the Federal Government will be providing $300,000 for that

business plan in the current financial year to assist with the completion

of the memorial.

It is a contribution that I think the Federal Government is honoured to

make with the help of the private sector, the contributions which I hope

will also be forthcoming from the State and this of course is in addition

to the $200,000 which the Federal Government has already put into construction.

I hope that the Prisoner of War Memorial here in Ballarat becomes very

meaningful for all of the families of the Prisoners of War. I hope it is

a Memorial that reminds future Australians of the great sacrifices that

were made. I hope it becomes a major stopping place for remembrance here

in Ballarat and the Federal Government contribution of $300,000 in the current

financial year, I hope, will assist the business plan in making it fulfil

all of those objectives.


Dana Vale was very insistent only a few months ago that this (inaudible)

was not a national memorial, why has something changed?


Well we have had further representations from Michael Ronaldson, from Elizabeth

Matuschka, I got out the correspondence, I took the opportunity to come

and see it and I think it is the right thing to do.


It is not the fact that there is an election on and this is a marginal



Well I think it is the right thing to do. I am not putting it forward in

politically partisan terms. I would hope that if there were a change of

Government you would also have such an assistance but I can assure you of

this, that as Treasurer, I am making this commitment. If I am Treasurer

after the election, I can assure you it will be honoured.


So you are happy this is (inaudible)?


Well I think it should be considered a place of remembrance for Australia’s

Prisoners of War and I think if people from all over Australia can come

here and engage in remembrance, I hope they do, and I think it is also a

great thing for the city of Ballarat.


Treasurer, (inaudible) a question, if people from all over Australia can

come here to celebrate our Ex-Prisoners of War, why can’t the Government

recognise this as a national memorial?


Well the Government has just recognised it with a contribution of $300,000,



(inaudible) memorial…


…well, let’s not get hung up with syntax…


…well, (inaudible)…


…well the reason I am here today is to announce $300,000 to fix and

bring to fruition the business plan for the Prisoner of War Memorial. And

I think that will be warmly welcomed by the committee and I think it will

be warmly welcomed by the people of Ballarat and I would just say on an

issue like this which is something that cuts very deeply in the national

consciousness, I hope that those people that are affected do recognise as

the Commonwealth Government does, the importance of this place.


Treasurer, can I ask, why hasn’t the Government funded the Deer Park By-pass?


Well this is the Government that has announced funding for the Deer Park

By-pass of $80 million and it is part of our Auslink Programme. We are the

only Government, Commonwealth Government, that has announced funding for

the Deer Park By-pass.


But you know that Labor has obviously bettered your deal?


Well the Labor Party has said that they may take funds out of the Scoresby

Freeway if they are elected. And then they say, oh we may spend the money

on Deer Park. But I would make this point to you, if you couldn’t believe

the Labor Party on the Scoresby Freeway, why would you believe it on the

Deer Park By-pass? You see, Labor also said they were going to build the

Scoresby Freeway. Mr Bracks now says he is going to put tolls on it. People

who see Labor’s track record on road funding I think should be very, very

suspicious about what they are saying over the Deer Park By-pass. In fact

I think I would put a Freedom of Information request on the Labor Government

at the moment to see whether they are working on any other nasty surprises.


So you don’t think they would get it done?


Well, we are the Government that made a commitment to the Scoresby Freeway,

we are the Government who will build the Scoresby Freeway. Labor committed

to the Scoresby Freeway, Labor will not build the Scoresby Freeway. All

I am saying is I think the track record of the Coalition announcing and

delivering is much stronger than the kind of empty hollow promises you get

from the Labor Party, that is my point.


Mr Costello the Prime Minister has yet to visit the ex-Prisoner of War

Memorial, do you think it is important that he does?


I think he would be very moved by it. If he has the opportunity I am sure

he will. I was very moved by it today and it is the first opportunity I

have had to look at it and it has been a great experience.


Elizabeth Matuschka, you said you would bring the Prime Minister to Ballarat

before the election, is there something you know that we don’t?


No I didn’t actually say that, I said that the Prime Minister has said

to me that he is very keen to visit Ballarat and that he would come here

if he had time before the election.


Mr Costello you are only the second senior Liberal to visit this seat,

this is a marginal seat, there is a perception that the Liberals have given

up any chance of winning it, what…


Well I think that Ballarat is going to be a tight race. I think the incumbent

Labor Member is taking the electorate for granted and she is betraying a

great deal of confidence and I would say to the people of Ballarat, I’d

think very carefully on Saturday about your vote, you have the opportunity

I think, to have an energetic person like Elizabeth as the local candidate

and I think at the national level, think very carefully about the implications.

If Labor is elected on Saturday, your mortgage, your business, your job,

will rely upon the economic management of Mark Latham and that is a big

risk. And I would say to people think very carefully – do you want

the failed Mayor of a failed Sydney council running an $800 billion national

economy – I certainly wouldn’t be risking it if it was me.


What do you think the chances are of reclaiming Ballarat?


Well I am hopeful. We are working to re-claim it, Elizabeth is working

to re-claim it. We are putting our case forcefully to the people of Ballarat,

we don’t take anything for granted, we hope that we can win their trust.


How important has the Family First preference deal been to the Liberal

Party in (inaudible)?


Well if people who support families think carefully, I think they will

all give preferences to the Liberal Party because I think the Liberal Party

is a pro-family party and…


(inaudible) a church party you have visited the Hillsong Church (inaudible)?


…well there is nothing wrong with churches, and I don’t make any

apology for visiting churches. I go as regularly as I can, people probably

say I should go more often. But I go as regularly as I can and I would say

to people who believe in family values that you can vote for the Liberal

Party, I think you should vote for the Liberal Party first, myself, but

if you are thinking of voting for another party than certainly vote for

the Liberal Party second.


Will Family First have any role in policy should you win Government and

should Family First win some seats in the Senate?


Well if they won seats in the Senate I imagine they would be trying to

influence policy in the same way that Bob Brown does, in the same way that

One Nation does, in the same way that the Democrats do and the same way

that the other political parties do. But that is the point of getting elected,

you get the chance to actually influence things. But can I tell you, as

far as I am concerned, I am punting for Liberal candidates in the lower

house and I am punting for Liberal Senators in the Senate. And the wonderful

thing is, we have got a wonderful candidate for the Senate here in Victoria,

Michael Ronaldson who the people of Ballarat would know. Now, can I just

say one other thing…


Can I ask you…


 …last question and then I have got to say one thing about the Labour



…when Mark Latham was here just before the election was announced,

he promised that Labor would fly the Eureka Flag at Parliament House, what

do you think of that and (inaudible)?


Well I think the Australian Flag should fly on Parliament House. We have

got one flag, the Australian flag, it represents our nation. I think the

Eureka Flag is a great flag to fly at the Eureka Stockade and at Sovereign

Hill, but I don’t think it is a great flag to fly at Parliament House, I

think that the Australian Flag should fly at Parliament House.

Now, today’s Labour Force, today’s Labour Force jobs figures released for

the month of September, showed that the number of jobs in Australia increased

by 63,000. The unemployment rate consequently fell from 5.7 to 5.6 per cent.

In relation to employment, full-time jobs increased by 19,000 for the month,

part-time jobs increased by 44,000. Now, if this continues, Australia’s

unemployment rate below 6 per cent, it is the longest rate that we have

had below 6 per cent, now going back more than 20 years. Unemployment is

low because our economy is strong. Our economy is strong because our interest

rates have been low. An economy doesn’t just run itself, economic management

is not an accident, it is not a fluke, it takes a lot of work and on Saturday,

people will have to decide who is going to be responsible for the management

of the $800 billion Australian economy. If you get decisions wrong, people

suffer on their mortgages and their businesses and they suffer with the

jobs, so I welcome today’s labour force figures, it shows that job creation

and the Australian economy continues, unemployment is low, more Australian’s

are in work than ever before and that is the way we need to keep it.


What about your record (inaudible) regional areas?


Well the record in relation to employment in regional areas has also been

strong. Employment in regional areas, including areas like Ballarat, is

now at the best it has been in 20 years…


Down to 6.8 per cent.


…and that is a consequence of strong economic management and low

interest rates and you know, I can remember the days when Labor was in office

where you were having unemployment rates of 13 and 14 per cent in regional

Victoria. So, if you want compare the record in relation to job creation.

Alright, last question, Sir.


(inaudible) responsibility for the price of petrol being $1.15 a litre

in regional areas.


Well the major determinant for petrol prices is world oil prices. When

you have got world oil prices at an all time record for around $50 US a

barrel, the petrol price goes up…


What about GST?


…and until such time as you have world oil prices coming down, you

have stability in relation to the Middle East, you have demand being moderated,

you are going to have high world oil prices and high petrol prices, I don’t

like it…


About excise?


…nobody likes it. Well the Commonwealth excise in relation to petrol

is 38 cents a litre, it doesn’t move, it doesn’t go up…




…it doesn’t go up, it doesn’t have an effect in relation to the petrol

price. Whatever the petrol price, the Commonwealth excise is the same. So,

it is not a Commonwealth excise that is having any affect in relation to

petrol prices, petrol prices are moving because of world oil prices. I don’t

like it and unfortunately I don’t control oil prices, and until such time

as we get stability in the Middle East and demand pressures ease, the world

oil price is going to be high. Thank you very much.