Dairy Regional Assistance Program; Aged Care; Roads to Recovery Program; University Funding; Unemployment; Prime Minister

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Dairy Regional Assistance Program; Aged Care; Roads to Recovery Program; University Funding; Unemployment; Prime Minister



Town Green, Port Macquarie

Wednesday, 22 May 2002



SUBJECTS: Dairy Regional Assistance Program; Aged Care; Roads to Recovery

Program; University Funding; Unemployment; Prime Minister


Well today I am announcing funding of $715,000 to Australian Solar Timbers

in Kempsey under the Government’s Dairy Assistance Program. This is a program

which the Government put in place to help with adjustment arising out of dairy

deregulation and it’s going to a very well known company in Kempsey, and it

will help them with new investment, and we figure it will create nearly 40 additional

jobs in the area. It’s great to be here at the invitation of Mark Vaile who

has been the Member for Lyne and of course Australia’s Trade Minister, and he

has had a great deal to do with the structural adjustment package and it’s a

good thing to be able to announce to the people of the region here on the mid-coast.


Is it a fair use under the dairy RAP program though?


Well, I think so, because this is a structural adjustment. Obviously with the

dairy program you’ll have fewer people on smaller dairy plots and so we have

got to encourage other industries which can take up employment opportunities.

This is a great employment opportunity. It will be a sustainable long term business

and that will give people of the region good job opportunities.


The head of the company at Kempsey though is in fact the Chair of the Lyne

Regional Council. Is this about the Coalition looking after its own?


No, we have an independent process which evaluates all of these things on their

merits. You don’t get any special favours and by the same token you are not

prejudiced. If you happen to be involved in the local community and you have

got a good project, it goes through an independent assessment and the money

is awarded on its merits.


This is an area with a lot of older people and a lot of pensioners, how do

they fare under your Budget?


Well, under the Budget we have increased spending on aged care. We have increased

the number of aged carers’ packages, which helps people to stay in their own

homes and gives them assistance with bathing and food and the like. We will

also be increasing spending on radiology services outside capital cities, which

will be good for areas like this. So, I think all in all, the Budget actually

boosts services to the aged. We bring down in this Budget an Intergenerational

Report which talks about some of the cost pressures that are now coming on the

Government in ten, twenty and thirty or forty years and we have put in place

measures which are designed to sustain (inaudible) services for people who are

aged, over the next ten or twenty or thirty years, and I think that’s a very

far ranging, far sighted policy.


David (inaudible) called for the, for the Roads to Recovery to be made recurrent,

he’s probably not alone in that regard. What do you think about that?


Well, it’s been a five year program I think of $1.2 billion over all which

is a very big investment. I am not surprised that people would call for it to

become a recurrent program, but let’s just get through our five years before

we worry about what’s going to happen after that.


You were asked about the University, Treasurer. How good is that looking for

this area?


Well, the way in which funding for a university is done is that a global sum

(inaudible) institutions put forward their bids for the taxpayers’ dollar, and

that is assessed by the Education Minister eventually and various advisory bodies

that he has working for him. So if there is a good case and it’s put to the

Education Minister, he will give it due consideration and it’s not something

that I personally decide, it’s Dr Nelson in relation to that.


It’s been suggested that you have only spent something like seven nights in

regional Australia over the last few years. Are we going to see more of you

in regional Australia in the future?


Well over the last seven years we have spent very considerable periods of time

in regional Australia. That suggestion which was a Labor Party suggestion of

course is false, and what would you expect from the Labor Party? But leaving

them aside, because we don’t want to spoil a good day by thinking about the

Labor Party, I very much enjoy being here. It’s great to be here in Port Macquarie,

for me it’s going back to a place that I spent time as a teenager and if I have

the chance to come back I would love to do so.


The situation with unemployment in regional areas, Treasurer, are you working

on that to bring that sort of situation down? I mean it’s very, very, it’s coming

down…But younger people jobs, (inaudible) jobs in this area, I mean (inaudible)…


Well look at this wonderful development here in Port Macquarie, the Four Points

Sheraton which is going to give a lot of young people jobs in a very good industry,

the hospitality industry, where they can have skills which will take them all

over the world eventually, in the hospitality industry. Look, to get unemployment

down we have got to run a growing economy. We need to continue to work with

industrial relations reform and welfare reform and for regional areas it is

important to have adjustment programs and one of the reasons I am here today

is to announce such an adjustment program in relation to (inaudible) which will

give regional areas the opportunity to develop long term jobs in the private

sector. So, yes, the answer to your question is yes. We will continue to work

on that. We have made some progress but there is more progress to be made.


Sorry just one final question if you don’t mind Mr Costello. It has been published

today that 46 per cent of Australians want to see John Howard stay on as the,

(inaudible) as Prime Minister. Can you respond to that?


Oh well, I can understand that people would take that view, and obviously it

is something that people feel that Australia is being run in good hands at the

moment. I think we are probably the best performing economy in the world. They

certainly don’t want to see any change to the Labor Party so I can understand

that people want to see good strong Government continuing, and I can pledge

to them that they will. This is a Government which is very much dedicated to

the public interest.