Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
SCOTT WALES: The Federal Government is putting the final touches to this year’s Budget which the Prime Minister has already labelled as dull. And the Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says the Government won’t be distracted by reports such as that from Deloitte Access Economics this week. Mathias Cormann is speaking to Steve Chase.
STEVE CHASE: Senator Cormann, is the Budget just about ready to go?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We’ve been spending a lot of time in recent weeks to put the final touches to the Budget, focusing on our efforts to strengthen economic growth and strengthen job creation.
STEVE CHASE: Does the Deloitte Access Economics report this morning put a road block in the way of the Budget?
MATHIAS CORMANN: No, this is part of the usual pre-Budget week process. We don’t get distracted. We have been reviewing the numbers for some time. We understand the progress that we have made since last year’s Budget and we also understand what still lies ahead. It is true to say that since we were elected we did face a series of unexpected and quite significant global economic challenges, in particular with significant falls in global commodity prices for commodities like iron ore. So that has had implications for our Budget and we are working our way through all of that in an orderly and methodical fashion.
STEVE CHASE: Now I know as the Finance Minister that you are, that you can’t talk about the quantum of what the deficit will be, Access Economics has, they says that it will be $41 billion and that there are deficits as far as the eye can see. On that general point of deficits way into the future what’s your response to that?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Our focus is to get the Budget back to surplus as soon as possible. Our focus is on reducing the size of the deficit both in dollar terms and as a share of the economy over the forward estimates. Our focus is on getting spending growth under control from the unsustainable trajectory that we inherited from our predecessors. That has been what we have focussed on for the last few months and that is what will be reflected in the Budget next week.
STEVE CHASE: There is a report around this morning that you’ve specifically rejected a tax on internet shopping, is that true?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I’m not going to give a running commentary on Budget speculation. All will be revealed by the Treasurer next Tuesday.
STEVE CHASE: But as a general guiding principle is the Government of the view that it won’t increase taxes, generally speaking. It will go for savings and in other peoples’ minds, cuts?
MATHIAS CORMANN: As a general guiding principle, the spending growth trajectory that we were on was unsustainable and we did have to rein in spending. We did quite a bit of that in last year’s Budget. In this year’s Budget we will be building on the progress that we’ve made since then in a measured, responsible and fair way. In particular, wherever we have identified the need for new spending we have more than fully offset that by identifying savings in other areas across Government. That is just the normal fiscal discipline of a Coalition Government.
STEVE CHASE: And when will the Budget be sent to the printers?
MATHIAS CORMANN: That will be sometime between now and next Tuesday.
STEVE CHASE: There’s some suggestion that the last meeting that you’ll have on it will be Thursday now rather than Tuesday.
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Expenditure Review Committee always meets on a regular basis. I don’t think there is anything unusual in relation to that.
SCOTT WALES: That’s the Finance Minister Mathias Cormann speaking ahead of next week’s Federal Budget with NewsRadio’s Steve Chase.