Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
QUESTION: Minister, how are the negotiations with Labor going over the regulations for the postal vote?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Government has always been keen to ensure that Australians get the opportunity to have their say on the marriage law postal survey in an environment that is similar to what would be in place in the context of an election period. We have always said that we were in favour of putting in place similar safeguards as would apply during an election period. I am quietly confident that based on the discussions that we have had so far with representatives of both sides of this debate and with the Opposition, that we should be able to reach a consensus very soon.
QUESTION: You will have to do it pretty quickly. You would have to introduce legislation in the next couple of days?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The intention would be to have legislation passed by the end of this week. That is subject to reaching a consensus, but based on the conversations we have had over the weekend, I am quietly confident that that can be achieved.
QUESTION: Can you give us an idea of what some of those restrictions will be or how tough they will be?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Australians will be very familiar with the usual safeguards that apply during an election period. Authorisations for relevant advertisements so that people can see who is responsible for any particular advertisement. Reasonable opportunity for people from both sides of the argument to have their views broadcast and a range of other relevant protections such as protections for voters from being misled about how to fill in their survey form and the like. The one area where we have agreed to go a bit further than would normally be in place in the context of an election period, that is on the basis of views of both sides of the argument, we agree that Australians should not be subject to vilification, intimidation and threats based on the views they hold or based on their religious beliefs or their sexual preferences. That is something that we are currently exploring how that can best be reflected in relevant legislation in a way that does not prevent Australians expressing their opinion on this issue in a reasonable fashion.
QUESTION: What about advertising content? The actual content or message.
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Australian Parliament does not regulate the content of political advertisements. This is a process where the campaign is about a political issue. We do not believe that it is desirable or feasible for the Parliament to regulate advertising content. In the end, that is a matter for the Australian people to pass judgement on whether they agree or disagree with a particular political proposition. That is the way it works in the context of an election campaign. That is the way we believe it ought to work in the context of this process.
QUESTION: Minister, just on energy policy briefly, Andrew Broad the head of the energy committee has recommended the Government pursue this lock in mechanism for the CET. Is that something that you would be willing to look at?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I will let my good friend and valued colleague Josh Frydenberg comment on these things.
QUESTION: But do you think in principle that there is value in this?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am going to let Josh Frydenberg comment on these things.
QUESTION: What about AGL, do you agree with Josh Frydenberg that they should act in the national interest and have a responsibility to keep Liddell open?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is the Government’s judgement that Liddell should remain open. There is a meeting today between the Prime Minister and the Energy Minister and the leadership of AGL. No doubt that will be one of the topics of conversation.
QUESTION: What do you make of the assessment made by the Nationals of the role of renewables play in the future of our energy mix. Do you think their assessment is accurate?
MATHIAS CORMANN: What the Coalition is focused on, what the Liberal and National party Members and Senators and the Coalition Government is focused on is policies to put downward pressure on electricity prices, increasing energy security and to do so in such a way that helps us meet our emissions reduction targets. That is what we will continue to focus on. That is every single measure that we are taking on this is focused on achieving that objective.
QUESTION: Do you agree with their assessment of renewables are nothing more than a sugar hit.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Again, the renewable energy target has been legislated for some time. It is in place. The Government’s position is that we should have a policy framework in place that is technology neutral, all of the above. That is what we are doing. But we are doing it in a way that helps bring electricity prices down and helps to increase energy security.