Final Budget Outcome, Middle East, LPG – Interview with Bernie Finn, 3AK

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Final Budget Outcome, Middle East, LPG – Interview with Bernie Finn, 3AK


Interview with Bernie Finn


Tuesday, 30 September 2003



SUBJECTS: Final Budget Outcome, Middle East, LPG


Talk 1116 3AK. You’re with Bernie Finn for another hour and five minutes

and then Doug Aiken comes on after the 6 o’clock news. The Honourable

Peter Costello, the Treasurer of Australia, announced today another record

surplus and I reckon that means he’s doing a relatively good job. Well,

not a relatively good job, a damn good job, running the economy. Peter

Costello’s on the line now. Peter, good afternoon.


Good afternoon Bernie.


Congratulations on that, that’s an unexpected bonus?


Well, it’s been a tough year Bernie. We have had a difficult international

situation and as you know a war in Iraq. But we’re convinced that if

we can keep the Australian economy strong we will keep people in jobs

and that’s the focus of our economic policy. So, we have got an outcome

today which shows that we are successful at doing that in the last financial

year. So, Bernie, now we have got to try and do it in the current financial



And I am sure we…I reckon, you will be able to pull it off without

too many problems.


Well, it takes a lot of management, it’s a difficult international environment,

what with the American trouble, the Iraq war and terrorism and drought.

So, it takes a lot of management but so far in Australia we have managed

to come through that pretty well and I hope we can do better in the future.


Now, you’ve been Treasurer, I think you are the second longest serving

or the longest serving Treasurer?


Something like that Bernie, I don’t like to count.


But you’ve been in the caper a fair while?




Do you ever get sick of talking about, purely about, Treasury matters?


Well, because it’s your job and you’re doing it all the time people think,

oh well, that’s all you’re interested in. But you know I have a lot broader

interests than just economic matters. And I have just recently been across

to the Middle East, I don’t know if you picked up on that?


Yes indeed I did. Yes.


It was good for me to go and have a look at some of the international

events and talk to people engaged in them and I actually enjoy getting

out of the stern Treasurer role from time to time.


Inevitably when people travel to, particularly to those sorts of places

that you went to, you know, strife torn and godforsaken some of them,

what message did you bring home in your own mind as to what you had particularly

learnt by that trip?


Well I think the first thing that every Australian that goes overseas

feels when they come back is how lucky we are to be Australian. I think

that’s the first thing. And when you go to these other countries you

realise that although we have problems, and we do, gee we’re a long way

in front of practically every other country in the world, in fact every

other country in the world. And you know, you realise just something,

we have got something precious here Bernie and we have to work to keep

it. The trouble in the Middle East is, as you know, the Israeli, the

Palestinian problem, the threat of terror, it just has been a terrible

cycle and I don’t think there’s going to be any great progress to peace

until we can end terrorism. And that I think is the most important thing

at the moment and everybody who has any influence over there should be

directing their minds towards that.


We were having a discussion before Peter about the image that Australia

has abroad and how it has changed over the last few years. What do you

think the image is of Australians abroad and how much does that matter?


Well, I think Australia is pretty respected overseas as a country. We

are respected because we are perceived to be one of the strongest economies,

that we were lagging really behind in the `80s and the early `90s and

we have got a new found respect because of our economic performance.

People also know that we have been active in our own area helping countries,

East Timor is a classic example. Everybody knows about East Timor and

Australia’s role in independence there. Solomon Islands, our engagement

in Iraq, I think we have got a lot of respect overseas at the moment

Bernie and I get a pretty favourable response.


Yeah well that’s good. I am delighted to hear that. Very, very briefly

Peter, I would like to, in 20 seconds because we have got to go to the

news, we were talking to the VACC a moment ago about the tax on LPG and

the effect that that has. I think we have probably run out of time. I

would like to raise that with you at some stage, so we might get you

back on at some future date and discuss that with you then?


Sure, well let me make the point that there is no tax on LPG. The Government

has been announcing arrangements that will apply from 2008 which is five

years’ time.




And we are trying to give long lead times and for people to adjust but

I would be very happy to come back on your program and talk about that.


Thanks Peter. Peter Costello the Federal Treasurer.