Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
JOHN MCGLUE: Well as I said, we are eight days away from this election now, this Senate election. It’s all important and what happens here will make a great difference to the composition of the Senate come the 1st July, the new Senate. Earlier this week, Anthony Albanese, the senior Labor frontbencher joined me, I’m joined now by the senior WA Liberal Minister Mathias Cormann. He’s the Finance Minister and a senior WA Senator. Welcome again to Drive.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good afternoon.
JOHN MCGLUE: The big issues for Western Australia in the election, you’ve seen the campaign so far, you’ve seen how it’s played out, we’re now just eight days away from when everybody votes, what do you think is the biggest issue between now and voting day.
MATHIAS CORMANN: The biggest issue is to ensure that people across Western Australia get strong representation in Canberra. The WA Liberal Senate team is a strong and experienced team, which has a track record for standing up for WA. So we will continue to make our case that a vote for the WA Liberal team is a vote to get rid of the carbon tax, to get rid of the mining tax, to help make Western Australia even more successful into the future.
JOHN MCGLUE: Your two top candidates, David Johnston and Michaelia Cash have got, they really are home and hosed, pretty certain of getting their seats, but the third seat which is pretty critical for the Liberals. You are under threat, there is The Greens, Palmer United, Labor, I mean who knows. It’s a bit of a mess further down the Senate ticket. Where do you think the biggest threat is going to come from?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are not taking anything for granted. Our candidate Linda Reynolds, a former Brigadier-General in the Army Reserves, is an outstanding candidate. Importantly she won her seat fair and square at the general election. She was not really impacted at all by the fracas about lost votes, which impacted the fifth and sixth position at the last election. We’re not taking anything for granted, but we are working very hard to make sure that we get Linda Reynolds over the line.
JOHN MCGLUE: Mathias Cormann is my guest on Drive, Finance Minister and senior WA Senator. Mathias Cormann, how are state issues impacting on the campaign do you think? It is of course a Federal vote for the Senate but we have seen the Labor Party and others attack Colin Barnett as a means of trying to sure up their vote for this Senate election.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Colin Barnett is very good for our vote. Colin Barnett has got a demonstrated track record of standing up for WA and that is our pitch to the people of Western Australia. What we need in our Senate team is a team of experienced people who are strong enough to stand up for WA, to help deliver a better deal for WA. Nobody demonstrates that strength more than Colin Barnett as our Premier.
JOHN MCGLUE: So what about the other side of that argument? The current goings on in Canberra and at a national level, how are they impacting upon your vote here in Western Australia? I mean for example today we’ve had confirmation from the Commonwealth Grants Commission about the decision to cut the GST share for Western Australia. It’s down to a record low now. What kind of impact will that and other Federal issues do you think will have on sentiment here in WA?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well the Western Australian share of the GST is $500 million higher this year than the WA State Government thought it would be when they delivered their last Budget in August last year. The main reason for that is because on coming into Government, Joe Hockey as the Treasurer gave a direction to the Commonwealth Grants Commission about the treatment of royalties on iron ore fines. Since the election we’ve also made commitments, additional commitments, in terms of infrastructure investment of another half a billion dollars into roads, North-West Coastal Highway, up Great Northern Highway and so. All of that without imposing a mining tax. So if you put it all together, our commitment to scrap the mining tax, which will help grow a stronger economy here in Western Australia and create more jobs, our commitment to scrap the carbon tax, which will help bring down the cost of living and also help grow our economy in WA more strongly, as well as the adjustments we’ve made to ensure there’s a better deal for WA. If you put all of that together, we’d like to very much continue to go down that path with a strong WA Liberal Senate team.
JOHN MCGLUE: Your expectations for the election, you’re usually a pretty cautious person, not somebody who’s given to big, wild flights of fancy in my experience. What are your expectations for the 5th of April?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Look, what we’re doing is putting our best foot forward. We're making our case and obviously working to achieve the best possible result. Ultimately it will come down to what voters decide and obviously we’ll accept what their verdict is.
JOHN MCGLUE: Is this going to be the last election that we’ll see for the Senate with this current voting system, do you think?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There is no doubt that the last Senate vote did throw up a range of idiosyncrasies and I suspect it will be the subject for some debate for the next few months.There is a Parliamentary committee that is reviewing how the last election played out and I suspect there may well be some recommendations for some improvements. What ultimately that will look like, I would not want to pre-empt those findings.
JOHN MCGLUE: Thanks for your time today. Good chatting with you.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you John.
JOHN MCGLUE: That’s Mathias Cormann there, the Finance Minister and senior WA Senator.