Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
MATHIAS CORMANN: Three days ago, Bill Shorten announced that he wanted to keep the Carbon Tax and keep electricity prices high. Since then he’s disappeared, he’s nowhere to be seen. This is the Carbon Tax, which Labor during the election campaign said it had already abolished. 'Kevin Rudd and Labor removed the Carbon Tax' is what Labor said. Now Bill Shorten wants to keep it.
People across Australia deserve an explanation from Bill Shorten as to why Labor is going back on its word during the campaign, why Labor wants to hurt families by keeping electricity prices high, and why Labor wants to hurt the economy by keeping electricity prices high.
Where is Bill Shorten? Bill Shorten should come out and provide an explanation to the Australian people as to why he is not fulfilling the commitment they made during the election campaign to terminate the Carbon Tax.
I’m happy to take some questions.
REPORTER: Isn’t that what he did in the Press Conference? He explained himself in the Press Conference that Labor wanted an ETS.
MATHIAS CORMANN: No fine print in this brochure. 'Carbon Tax abolished', 'Kevin Rudd and Labor remove Carbon Tax'. And on the back, 'Kevin Rudd and Labor have removed the Carbon Tax saving the average family $390'. Not even meant to be a year. No detail, nothing.
Now whether it is floating, whether it is fixed, it is still a tax that continues to go up and up and up and which continues to hurt families, which continues to hurt the economy.
Most important of all, the Australian people passed judgement on what they thought of Labor’s Carbon Tax. The Australian people want Labor’s Carbon Tax gone. Bill Shorten should respect the will of the Australian people.
REPORTER: On the Mining Tax repeal, do you intend to introduce that legislation in the first week of parliament or is there some delay?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have been on the record for a very long time, we will scrap Labor’s failed Mining Tax and we will scrap most of the unfunded measures that Labor has attached to their failed Mining Tax and of course that is one of the first pieces of legislation…interrupted
REPORTER: In the first week?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well that is one of the first pieces of legislation that we will be introducing into the parliament and you can be very safe in the assumption that it will be in the first week.
REPORTER: Just on that, do you accept the argument that small business would suffer under the legislation you’d put through?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Labor made a whole series of promises, unfunded promises, which they attached to their failed Mining Tax. In two elections now the Coalition has been explicit that we would scrap the Mining Tax which is bad for the economy, bad for jobs and that we would scrap the unfunded promises that Labor attached to their Mining Tax. The Budget that we inherited from Labor is a mess. This is a particular measure that will help us repair the Budget. This will help improve the Budget bottom-line to the tune of $13.4 billion. All we’re doing here is implementing the commitments that we took openly and transparently to the last election. By the way, if Labor had been re-elected at the last election, whatever they said before the election, they would have had to scrap many of these measures. Whatever Labor said before the election, past history showed us that that always changed after the election. We were open and transparent before the election with what our intentions were in relation to the Mining Tax and what our intentions were in relation to the unfunded policies that Labor had recklessly and irresponsibly attached to that Mining Tax.
REPORTER: Given you say that you are a pro-small business government, why not have a look at lost carry back again and the threshold for small business instant asset write-off. They say close to about $3.8 billion to keep those two provisions over the Forward Estimates, and there’s a long term benefit. Why not reconsider those measures?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There are many meritorious causes that governments can pursue but when they’re not funded, they’re not funded. Labor attached all sorts of promises to the Mining Tax, recklessly and irresponsibly, without providing funding for them. Their Mining Tax has been a monumental failure. Their Mining Tax is having a bad impact on economic growth, which hurts small business. The best thing we can do for small business is implement our agenda for stronger growth and more jobs. That will help small business.
REPORTER: Is keeping 30,000 jobs in the car industry in Victoria a meritorious cause, Senator?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well again, in the lead up to the last election we were very clear as to what our approach would be in relation to government support to the car industry.
We flagged that we would be conducting a Productivity Commission inquiry, which is now underway. The terms of reference are out there. We are going through a proper orderly, methodical process. The government will make decisions in the right way at the right time consistent with what we said before the election we would do.
REPORTER: There’s a lot of Coalition debate about takeover bid for GrainCorp. Do you have any concerns about foreign ownership of GrainCorp?
MATHIAS CORMANN: This is a matter for the Treasurer to decide. I’m just not going to add to public commentary in relation to this.
REPORTER: You are the minister in Cabinet in charge of Parliamentary Entitlements. Couldn’t you save a lot of money by actually having a review of Parliamentary Entitlements and if you haven’t called a review, why not, given public outcry to some of these claims.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well clearly politicians as part of their job, in particular federal politicians as part of their job, travel. All travel should be within entitlement and of course whenever there are issues that emerge, people should correct those issues at the earliest opportunity which is what happens. If there are sensible suggestions on how the system can be improved we will of course consider them.
REPORTER: Have you spoken to Don Randall about the accusations against him regarding this issue?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I have not had a conversation with Don Randall.
REPORTER: Can I ask you (inaudible) sensible suggestion? Don Randall has been raised here, he has paid back $5 grand or so, but what about the $5 000 that tax payers were charged for the trip to Melbourne where he went to the Football. Now if that’s within entitlement, why should it be entitlement for his wife to go there and then go back?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I’m not going to get into specifics about individual circumstances. You asked me a question upfront about the system as a whole. The system is that as part of doing our job as members of parliament we have to travel. All claims must be made within the rules of course and if there are issues that emerge they have got to be dealt with and that’s what’s happened.
REPORTER: The argument is that it is within the rules, but why is it within the rules? Do you think that’s right?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Look I think I’ve answered your question.
REPORTER: Do you think that there is any scope in the current rules or current system to prevent money being wasted so that tax payer funds can be saved?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well as I’ve just said, claims have got to be made within the rules and if there are sensible suggestions along the way on how the system can be improved, that actually make the system better, then of course we will consider them.
REPORTER: Is there a need for an inquiry to bring those suggestions forward in the same way as you’re doing for the car industry?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well look, these are issues that well and truly beyond my area of responsibility…interrupted.
The minister that is directly responsible for this is Senator Michael Ronaldson….interrupted
REPORTER: You are the minister in Cabinet responsible for it, is there a need for an inquiry?
MATHIAS CORMANN: And I’ve provided my answer to your question…interrupted
REPORTER: Is the answer no?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The answer is that politicians as part of their job have to travel. The rules are well understood. There have been a number of inquiries in the past. We will continue to consider these issues and will deal with them in an orderly and methodical fashion.
REPORTER: A lot has been made of WA and the possibility of a by-election in the Senate, a) do you think it’s inevitable and b) are you confident that the Liberals will hold their three Senate spots if there is an election?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well look, what happened in Western Australia is unfortunate.
Obviously there are some processes underway now that need to be allowed to take their course. If there is another election in Western Australia, it will be another opportunity for the people of Western Australia to send a strong and clear message to Bill Shorten that they want the Carbon Tax gone. It will be another opportunity to have a referendum on the Carbon Tax which is hurting families and hurting the economy.