Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good morning everyone. We have delivered the Budget Australia needs. We have delivered in the Budget our plan to deal with Labor's debt and deficit disaster. Labor's spending was unsustainable. We cannot afford to keep paying $1 billion a month in interest just to service the debt Labor has accumulated. We cannot afford to keep borrowing to give money away. So we expect the Parliament to pass the Budget that we have delivered. If Labor does not support the Budget measures that we have put forward, it is really incumbent on them to tell us how they would deal with the debt and deficit disaster that they left behind in September 2013. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Despite the tough talk, you open to refining the GP co-payment? That's a concession that you guys are going to make isn't it?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are putting all the of the Budget measures to the Parliament in the way that they were delivered a couple of weeks ago and we expect the Parliament to pass our plan in the form it was introduced.
JOURNALIST: Are you still willing to go for a double dissolution?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are focused on providing good government for Australia. That includes delivering the Budget Australia needs in order to deal with Labor's debt and deficit disaster. It includes our plan to build a stronger, more prosperous economy where everyone has the opportunity to get ahead. In the meantime, ours is the only plan on the table to deal with Labor's debt and deficit disaster. There is no alternative plan. Despite Bill Shorten jumping up and down every day, playing politics, he actually hasn't put forward one constructive, realistic proposal to ensure that government in Australia can live within its means.
JOURNALIST: So what sort of refinements was the Prime Minister talking about on Saturday?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have delivered the Budget Australia needs. We will be putting that Budget to the Parliament. We have put that Budget to the Parliament and we will be putting it to the Senate after the Senate has of course considered all the detail through the Senate Estimates process. We expect Parliament to deliver, to pass the Budget that is required in order to put Australia back onto a more sustainable track.
JOURNALIST: Is it likely New Zealand might teach us something about simplifying and making more efficient our welfare system? Do you think?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have included in our Budget a series of measures to ensure that taxpayer funded welfare support is targeted at those most in need. Beyond that there is a welfare review currently underway and as soon as that has reported, lets cross that bridge when we get there.
JOURNALIST: Was it premature for the Prime Minister to be talking about refinement to the Budget on Saturday?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Not at all. The Prime Minister was just making statements of the obvious. But let's be very clear, we delivered the Budget Australia needs in order to deal with the debt and deficit disaster that Labor left behind. In relation to the Medicare co-payment, we are doing what needs to be done in order to ensure that our world class health system remains sustainable into the future. In years gone by, when the Labor Party believed in something, when the Labor Party believed that it was important to ensure Medicare was sustainable for the future, Labor themselves proposed and indeed introduced such a co-payment. So this debate no doubt will continue to run for a little while longer, but what we say to Labor is we are taking responsibility for the debt and deficit disaster that you left behind, face up to what you have done and start being part of the solution rather than to just continue to play political games.
Thank you very much.