Thursday, August 09, 2007

Kerry O'Brien 3, Cossie 1

Good interviewers are a rare breed. Too many wilt under serious pressure, particularly from politicians, or become shrill and repetitive. O'Brien however is supremely confident and calm. His interview with Costello last night could easily have degenerated - he point blank asked Costello how the electorate could be expected to distinguish truth from lies in Liberal party advertising - but for O'Brien's experience.

If you were scoring the interview, the opening gave you an indication of events to come:
O'BRIEN, Peter Costello, nine straight interest rate increases in the last six years. Five rate increases since the last election. I thought we were supposed to trust you to keep interest rates at a record low?

PETER COSTELLO, TREASURER: Well, let's put it in context. 19 interest rate cuts and 15 interest rate rises, so the fact of the matter is that interest rates are lower today than when the Government was elected, and in those 11 years, not only have interest rates come down, but we've had 11 years of continuous growth and 2.1 million more jobs added. So, the fact that you could actually have interest rates lower today than they were before this period of expansion commenced, and before 2.1 million jobs have added, shows you how far the economy has come.
Well matched, one all I'd say, however O'Brien's questioning wasn't about whether or not Cossie and co. were good economic managers, it was whether or not they were honest - honest about both the faults of Labor and their own abilities. Remember last election's scaremongering about Labor's ability to keep rates down?

I relieved by this questioning, relieved that the government are being held to account for their ridiculous claims. I'll concede they're managing the economy well enough, but spare us all the omnipotent crap. Which is why I particularly enjoyed this exchange from later in the interview:
KERRY O'BRIEN: As it's risen nine times in six years, the Prime Minister today distanced himself from the Liberal Party promise at the last election to keep interest rates at "record lows". Do you also disassociate yourself from that Liberal Party promise at the last election to keep interest rates at record lows?

PETER COSTELLO: Well Kerry, I have no doubt that a vote for the Coalition at the last election was a vote for lower interest rates and a vote for Labor and Latham.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Mr Costello, Mr Costello this is a very simple proposition I'm putting to you, a very simple proposition. Can we trust your promises or not?

PETER COSTELLO: Of course you can because Kerry...

KERRY O'BRIEN: The promise was record low interest rates.

PETER COSTELLO: Ok, you've asked your question, now let me give you the answer. The last election you could have voted for Labor led by Mark Latham or the Coalition led by John Howard and Peter Costello. The fact is if you wanted to vote for lower interest rates, you voted for the Coalition, Costello and Howard. I don't think even Kevin Rudd in his wildest imagination would have said that a vote for the Labor Party and Mark Latham would have had us in the situation we're in now. That's what they we're saying. Mark Latham for Prime Minister and the Labor Party. The vote for the Coalition was the vote for low interest rates, it's proven by comparing the historical record, and it's proven by comparing Australia's position in relation to growth in other countries.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But you've left out the word "record low interest rates" Mr Costello, which was what was promised at the last election. So when we see Liberal Party ads making all sorts of claims during this next election campaign, how do we know which ones to believe and which ones not to believe?
Well said that man! Two - one O'Brien.

And finally, O'Brien challenges Cossie to explain the benefit of tax cuts - five in five successive budgets - which merely offset the rising cost of debt? Five tax cuts, but seven rate rises? Cossie's answer is very poor - the tax cuts have not put the government into debt. But Cossie, that's not the point, your books might balance, but do those of the working families on whose good favour you rely for re-election? Three - one O'Brien by my count.

Full transcript and video here.

1 comment:

David C said...

Sounds pretty good -- any chance this chap would like a job in New Zealand?