Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
DAVID LIPSON: Welcome to this special edition of Saturday Agenda coming to you from Perth because the State of WA is going to the polls again today for the third time in just twelve months after that inexplicable loss of 1375 votes. Well there’s six Senate spots are up for grabs again and 77 candidates have lined up for the contest. On the program today Labor’s Alannah McTiernan and the Green’s Scott Ludlam. But first to the Finance Minister and proud West Australian Senator Mathias Cormann. Thanks for your time today.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good to be here.
DAVID LIPSON: Now you’re not up for election this round, but your colleagues David Johnston and Michaelia Cash are and there are concerns in the Liberals about the third spot in particular because the first two are pretty safe, Linda Reynolds not so much. What’s your feeling on her?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We’re obviously not taking anything for granted. We have a very strong, united and experienced Liberal Senate team here in Western Australia, which is very focussed on delivering a better deal for WA. But it is true that Linda Reynolds, an outstanding candidate, a former Brigadier-General in the Australian Army, who won the seat fair and square at the general election, was not impacted by the stuff up by the Australian Electoral Commission, her position is the position that we’re fighting for. We would urge West Australians to get behind Linda Reynolds and give her their support.
DAVID LIPSON: Because she won a spot in the first two counts that followed the election.
MATHIAS CORMANN: She won fair and square. She was elected at the fourth position out of six and was not impacted at all by the loss of 1370 votes, yes.
DAVID LIPSON: So would it be an injustice then if she slips away now?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are where we are. Our message to people across Western Australia is that only the Liberal Senate team has the experience, has the purpose and has the capacity to deliver a better deal for WA. Linda Reynolds is an outstanding candidate who would do a great job for Western Australia in Canberra.
DAVID LIPSON: There was another bungle with the AEC this week, 75 voters at an aged care facility had to recast their ballots after they were put in an unsecured ballot box. Phil Diak from the AEC spoke about this earlier this week. Here’s some of that.
PHIL DIAK: It’s been in an issue with the assembly of that box. That it was not complete to be a fully secure container. Something that we would rather not have occurred. We have apologised to the residents. We have also advised the candidates today.
DAVID LIPSON: How confident are you that the AEC can get this right?
It is so important in a democracy that people can have confidence in the integrity of the electoral system. After this is all said and done, we do have to have a real close look at how the AEC is performing. Obviously what happened at the general election, what’s happened again this week is cause for concern and we’ve got to fix it.
DAVID LIPSON: How will you fix it?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There’s got to be some review processes that are rolled out. We’ve got to have a very close look at both the system as well as the capacity of the Electoral Commission to manage this competently. For a democracy it is so important that people can have confidence in the way this is managed.
DAVID LIPSON: As the numbers fell in September, the Coalition had to get six of the eight cross-benches to get its legislation through the Senate, like the repeal of the mining tax, the repeal of the carbon tax. How much more difficult would it be if that mix was changed to say, the Coalition may need seven out of eight to get things through?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We’re committed to get rid of these anti-West Australian taxes. The mining tax is an anti-West Australian tax, which is costing jobs and costing investment in Western Australia. The carbon tax is pushing up the cost of living and is making Western Australian businesses less competitive internationally. We are committed to get rid of them. And... interrupted
DAVID LIPSON: But you haven’t been able to...
MATHIAS CORMANN: ...and obviously a strong result here in Western Australia today will help us to achieve the best possible outcome for Western Australia. So that is one of the other things we very much would like Western Australians to keep in mind.
DAVID LIPSON: Whatever happens though, Clive Palmer already controls two votes in the Senate and he has at least a loose affiliation with a third. You almost certainly need to negotiate with him to get legislation through. This week though Tony Abbott accused him to trying to buy his way into the Senate. Let’s just hear what Tony Abbott said this week.
TONY ABBOTT: ...don’t believe that they’re going to allow themselves to be bought. I don’t believe that the people of Western Australia are going to put seats in the national Parliament up for sale, which is effectively what someone is trying to do.
DAVID LIPSON: Clive Palmer has a point doesn’t he, when he says only he can get rid of the carbon tax and the mining tax?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well he actually doesn’t have a point. The truth is that people in Western Australia overwhelmingly voted against the mining tax and against the carbon tax at the last general election. Under Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, the Labor Party became an exclusively Eastern-States centric, anti-West Australian party. Under Bill Shorten’s leadership, clearly the Labor Party still hasn’t learnt their lesson... interrupted
DAVID LIPSON: You need Clive Palmer’s vote...
MATHIAS CORMANN: If there’s a strong result for the Liberal Party here in Western Australia today, maybe Bill Shorten will start to listen to what people in Western Australia have to say. And maybe, just maybe the Labor Party will finally realise that people in Western Australia don’t want their carbon tax and don’t want their mining tax. We had Joe Bullock, Labor’s own lead candidate telling people in Western Australia that Labor was getting rid of the carbon tax on the same day that Labor in the Senate was voting to keep it. So maybe after this election today, Bill Shorten will finally listen to the people of Western Australia and the fact that we want to get rid of these bad taxes.
DAVID LIPSON: Clive Palmer also promised that he can deliver a fair share of GST to WA. He used some pretty colourful language this week as well, let’s hear that.
CLIVE PALMER: So it’s very clear that the Liberal Party, the Labor Party will keep on raping Western Australia for its GST. We’ve raised this issue in this election because we think it’s an important one.
DAVID LIPSON: What do you make of Clive Palmer’s claims that he can deliver fairer GST for WA?
MATHIAS CORMANN: What Clive Palmer is focussed on is trying to help a Queenslander get elected to represent Western Australia. He’s sending his preferences to support the HEMP candidate who doesn’t even live in Western Australia. None of us are in any doubt, Clive Palmer is not investing all this money to help Western Australia. He’s trying to help himself. He’s trying to strengthen his influence that he perceives he has in Canberra. This is not about the people of Western Australia for him. This is all about himself.
DAVID LIPSON: Okay. Labor has stoked fears this week about cuts to health and education. As Finance Minister how can you assure WA voters that the Coalition won’t do what Labor says you will?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Labor said that in the lead up to the last election and let’s just remember that it was Bill Shorten as education minister in the shadow of the last election who ripped $1.2 billion out of schools in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. It was... interrupted.
DAVID LIPSON: That’s Labor, what about you?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Yeah sure and it was us, this is my point, so Bill Shorten ripped $1.2 billion out of schools in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory and the Coalition put that $1.2 billion back in. So don’t look at what Labor says in desperation in the lead up to an election here in Western Australia. Look at what we did. Look at our track record and our track record is there for all to see.
DAVID LIPSON: Senator Mathias Cormann, we’ll have to leave it there. Good luck today.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Thank you.
DAVID LIPSON: Thank you.