The GST negotiations were in 1999 and Mr Howard needed the support of the Australian Democrats to pass the legislation through the Senate.
The Democrats leader, Meg Lees, was horse trading. One demand was for the government to establish a greenhouse gas abatement program.
The former treasurer Mr Costello tells Hartcher: ''This was 1999. Neither Howard nor I had much of an idea of what a greenhouse gas was, let alone how to abate it … Trying to co-operate without blowing the financial position, I whispered to Howard, 'Offer her four hundred.'
'''Okay,' he said. '$400 million.'
''She accepted. I tapped him on the shoulder and whispered in his ear, 'That's not what I meant. I meant we should offer her $400,000'.''
There was no way to retract the offer.
''It was how $400 million got expended by mistake.''
Friday, 28 October 2011
Spending $400 million by mistake
In $400,000 sweetener became $400m Phillip Coorey mentions an anecdote from Peter Hartcher's new book "The Sweet Spot".