Leadership; Economic Management; Election; GST – Interview with Mike Carlton, Radio 2UE

2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998
Balance of Payments and Investment Position – June Quarter 2004
August 30, 2004
National Accounts June Quarter 2004, economic management, Budget, housing, interest rates, costings, Medicare Safety Net, Galt – Press Conference, Parliament House, Canberra
September 1, 2004
Balance of Payments and Investment Position – June Quarter 2004
August 30, 2004
National Accounts June Quarter 2004, economic management, Budget, housing, interest rates, costings, Medicare Safety Net, Galt – Press Conference, Parliament House, Canberra
September 1, 2004

Leadership; Economic Management; Election; GST – Interview with Mike Carlton, Radio 2UE


Interview with Mike Carlton


Monday, 30 August 2004
8.10 am


SUBJECTS: Leadership; Economic Management; Election; GST


And joining us in our studio in Parliament House, Canberra, the Treasurer,

Peter Costello. Good morning.


Good morning Mike.


Thanks for your time.


Good to be with you.


Can we trust the Prime Minister to stay on in the job if he is re-elected

for the next three years?


Well he has made his position on that entirely clear. And the one thing

I want to…


Well no he hasn’t actually.


Well he has. He has said it a thousand times. The one thing I would like

to be sure of after the election is that we don’t have Mark Latham

running the Australian economy, not for a day, not for a day.


The Prime Minister is asking the Australian people to trust him as Prime

Minister yet he won’t say if he will stay in the job. That’s

not really very trustworthy is it?


Well, he is asking the Australian people to trust the continuation of the

Government which has brought them low interest rates, the best jobs climate

in 22 years, low inflation and seen Australia through incredibly difficult

times rather than risk it all on the failed Mayor of a failed Council. Now

personally I think the risks of Latham, Latham in particular, but Labor

in general, in Government are so great that anybody that is interested in

keeping their mortgage and keeping their job is going to be worried by that.


Yeah, but you are still ducking my question. The Australian people are

entitled to ask this, John Howard is saying vote for me, I lead this Government.

And yet he won’t say how long he will be in the job and he won’t

say if he is going to hand over to you at any stage.


Well he is entitled to say as he does say that the Australian public can

look at the record of this Government over eight and a half years, they

can compare it to what happened under the previous Labor Government and

if they want to they can compare it to other countries during that period.

And it is a record I believe which will stand up to any other record and

gives people confidence for the future. Now, the other way of contrasting

it is to look at the record of Mr Latham. And you can judge the two records

for yourself.


All right, put it another way then, can we trust you not to mount a leadership

challenge in the next three years?


Well, I have been Treasurer for eight and a half years now. People can

look at my record, they can look at the place where the Budget was – $10

billion in deficit when I became Treasurer. They can look at seven surplus

Budgets, they can look at interest rates which came down from double figures

to where they are now and they can look at 1.3 million jobs created. So,

I say Mike, the important thing is look at peoples’ record. Anybody

can tell you what they think they want you to hear but just look at what

they have done. And I say this in relation…


Geez you are good at avoiding the question. You are really an absolute

(inaudible) even better than the Prime Minister at ducking the question.


Well I just say in relation to Mr Latham, don’t listen to what he

says, just look at what he has done.


What I am asking you…




…no, yeah, yeah, yeah, I know all that. But I am asking you can we

trust you not to mount a leadership challenge in the next three years? Can

you rule out any challenge to John Howard’s leadership in the next

three years? Won’t do it?


I am telling you look at my record. My record over the last eight and a

half years speaks for itself in terms of discipline, in terms of commitment

and in terms of achievement. And that is the best way of looking at these



All right, but you have made no secret that you would like to be Prime

Minister, want to be, and expect to be. How much longer will you be content

with the number two job? How many more Budgets do you want to bring down

for John Howard?


Well, look at my record. I have brought down nine Budgets and I think they

speak for themselves and you know the thing that gives me the greatest fear?

Imagine if we wake up next May and we see Simon Crean bringing down the

Budget. I would turn in my grave at that prospect.


You might be Opposition Leader though wouldn’t you? Because John

Howard wouldn’t be around…


I don’t know what I would be Mike but I would be turning in my grave

and I think people would be reaching for their bankers and say tell me how

much my mortgage is and what it is going to cost me in the next year or

two. Imagine, just imagine for a moment will you, next May you see Mark

Latham and Simon Crean bringing down a Budget. They would have to close

the exit visas out of the country I think.


All right. Okay. You have had your crack at that but you are still the

two of you, you and the Prime Minister are still evading the crucial question

aren’t you? Can we trust the Prime Minister to stay on? Neither you

nor he will answer that question, that leaves you vulnerable doesn’t



No it doesn’t because…


Well Labor has got to come on and say look a vote for Howard is in fact

a vote for Costello.


You know the frightening thing? A vote for Latham is a vote for Latham.


I love the way you dropped your voice there.


This is the most frightening prospect. Now let me tell you if you vote

for Latham and Latham is in control of your mortgage rate and your budget,

there’s not going to be anyone around to stop him. John Howard is

not going to be there. I am not going to be there. The IMF is not going

to be there. When interest rates start rising around the world as they are,

when Alan Greenspan and the US Federal Reserve start putting up interest

rates, who are we going to have in our corner? Mark Latham. The most frightening

thing is, people have got to know this, a vote for Latham is a vote for



Are we going to hear that refrain through the campaign are we?


But if the Americans…




What do you think he is going to do, he is on such good terms with the

Americans I suppose they will be taking counsel from him?


But if Alan Greenspan and the Americans put up interest rates ours will

have to nudge up along with them, they always do historically, you won’t

be able to stop it either.


No that is not the case. Because we have been running an independent interest

rate policy and through the last eight and half years there have been times

when the American rates have gone down and ours haven’t and there

have been times when ours have moved independently up and theirs haven’t

because we are running them according to Australian conditions. But it takes

a little bit of skill and it takes a little bit of experience. And over

the next year we know because the Americans have flagged it and Alan Greenspan

has flagged it, they are going to be raising interest rates. Now you are

going to have to have somebody in place who knows how to respond in Australia

and it is not Mark Latham, we know that.


You’re going to run this as a line, I mean I don’t mean you

personally, but the Government will run this as a line through the campaign

that remember Paul Keating, remember 19, 18, 19 per cent. Is that it?


Well again, I think you can be judged on your record. Talk is easy. Mark

Latham says he will promise you everything in the world. He will do this,

he will do that, he will do the other thing, right. But don’t listen

to what they say, look at their record. That is the best way of judging

it. And we say, you can look at this Government’s record and you can

contrast it to Labor’s record. That is the best way of doing it. He

says, oh don’t look at what we did just listen to what I say. Well

you know if saying it were enough to make it happen, why didn’t they

make it happen?


Right. Let me play you a small excerpt from our last interview when you

joined me here in the studio in Sydney, this is what you are, this is what

you told me last time:

TREASURER: Sixty five is the retirement age, that is when you qualify

for retirement…

That was a shot at the Prime Minister wasn’t it? It was just after

his sixty fifth birthday.


No, because I think I went on to say that we were encouraging people to

stay on in the workforce did I not?


No you didn’t.


In fact I was the person that copped the flack you will recall for suggesting

that people stay on in the workforce, which we are trying to encourage.


I don’t think you were encouraging him to stay on in the workforce.

I just thought I would toss that one in.


You know, I am encouraging, I have got a whole programme out there, on

encouraging people to stay longer in the workforce. And you will recall

that the Labor Party has been attacking me over it.


All right. You say look at the Government’s record. And there is

no doubt that the Government has presided over a golden period if you like

of economic prosperity in this country. We have seen nothing like it. But

this is a Government isn’t it that has also lied to and deceived the

Australian people over a whole bunch of issues. No ever, ever GST, the kids

overboard, the maritime strike, the weapons of destruction in mass Iraq,

you have deceived us on a lot of things haven’t you?


Well, I can go through those one by one Mike. But let me just answer the

first one. You say no GST. You know, can I tell you, I drew up the programme

for the New Tax System including the GST. We released it in August of 1998

and we fought a whole election on it. The whole election was fought on whether

or not we would introduce a GST.


Now that is true. But the Prime Minister had earlier said, never, ever

hadn’t he? Okay but you then took it to the Australian people and

said we’ve changed our minds.


But before the 1996 election he said if you elect us, we won’t have

a GST. Right and fine.


So where was the trust there?


Then before the 1998, well he didn’t. And then before the 1998 election

we put out this policy and we said we now think Australia needs a GST and

if you want one, elect us. And they did. That was the most open, transparent,

engagement with the Australian public I have ever seen in my life. And we

detailed every single way, I remember Mike, going around every radio programme

throughout that election. There was no other topic of conversation. Nobody

was under any misapprehension that a vote for us would introduce The New

Tax System. Now let me finish this point, the Labor Party opposed it as

you know. And the Labor Party said if you don’t want the GST and you

don’t want The New Tax System, vote for us. They said that Australia

would change. They said it would lead us into recession. They said it would

cause mass unemployment. Now that was introduced in 2000, you know, I ask

satirically look at the damage we have had in Australia since. We have had

four years of growth, we have got the lowest unemployment rate, we are heading

up for our seventh surplus Budget. You know, look at all the damage that

The New Tax System did to Australia.


So you would agree then that it is likely…


I say satirically!


That’s all right.


Just in case you want to pull that quote out again.


All right, no, no, we know you were saying it satirically, satirically,

we will lay that on. You are agreeing then aren’t you with that old

Bill Clinton campaign slogan in a sense “It’s the economy stupid.”


Yes, I think it is the economy stupid. Clinton was right about that. Because

at the end of the day if you don’t have a job and you can’t

pay the mortgage, then it is not a very happy situation. And other policies

don’t count that much if you are not in work and you don’t have

a roof over your head.


Good to talk to you. I hope we will meet again in the next coming six weeks.


Good to be with you.


Thanks a lot.


Bye, bye.