Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
LYNDAL CURTIS: Mathias Cormann, welcome to ABC News24.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good to be here.
LYNDAL CURTIS: The Senate has voted against your bid to axe tax cuts that were due to come in under Labor's old scheme. Do you know how much money that will cost the Budget?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Labor party today voted against their own Budget measure. They banked a $1.5 billion saving in their last Budget, but never legislated it. All we were trying to do today as part of our carbon tax repeal package was to scrap a tax... interrupted
LYNDAL CURTIS: Will the cost be $1.5 billion or grow even greater over the forward years?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is about $1.5 billion. It is about that order. The Labor party appears to be still in complete denial about the state of the Budget and about the fact that the carbon tax will go. We have always been very clear in the lead up to the last election that we would keep in place the personal income tax cuts that have been put in place in the first round at that time to compensate for the carbon tax. We have also always said that we would keep the Labor measure not the proceed with the second round of income tax cuts which Labor had already banked in their last Budget and of course by the decisions that Labor has made today, what they are doing is blowing another $1.5 billion hole in a Budget that as a result of their mismanagement is already in very bad shape.
LYNDAL CURTIS: It wasn't just Labor and the Greens though that scuppered your ability to axe this tax rise. Will you be trying again to put it to the Senate?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The key here is that this is a Budget measure, which Labor initiated, which Labor banked in their last Budget, which Labor failed to legislate and which Labor today voted against in an attempt clearly to cause havoc for Australia. We have got to remember...interrupted
LYNDAL CURTIS: Do you try again? Is that the next step?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Firstly today, the good news today is that the carbon tax will soon be gone. That will be good for our economy, it will good for families and pensioners who will see reductions in their cost of living. But in relation to this particular measure, obviously we will now consider how to proceed from here. It is obviously a part of our Budget not to proceed with this second round of personal income tax cuts at this point given the debt and deficit disaster that we inherited from the Labor Party.
LYNDAL CURTIS: But it is just a small part of what parties in the Senate are threatening to block. Do you know the quantum of what is at risk in your Budget?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well the Labor Party right now is opposing nearly $40 billion in savings measures in the Budget. $5 billion of those savings are savings that Labor themselves initiated in their last Budget but failed to legislate. These are Labor's savings that we supported as a responsible Government that needed to repair the Budget. We've always said that we would support them, but Labor is opposing their own savings measures now. Bill Shorten is even more reckless and irresponsible than Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd ever were.
LYNDAL CURTIS: But we now know some of the things the Palmer United Party is threatening to block. Have you done the numbers on the quantum of things which it looks like at this stage will not get through the Senate?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We will continue to present all of the Budget measures to the Senate. We've presented the Budget that Australia needs if we are to protect our living standards and if we are to build opportunity and prosperity for the future. We will continue to go through an orderly and methodical process. We will continue to engage courteously and constructively with all of the Senators represented in the Senate and obviously there's nothing new under the sun Lyndal. Some of these measures might have to be put a second time to the Senate. That has happened before, but we will continue to make the case as to why what we're putting forward is what Australia needs.
LYNDAL CURTIS: It is potentially isn't it tens of billions of dollars of savings you may not have?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Right now the Labor Party is opposing nearly $40 billion in savings and that is after they delivered $191 billion in deficits in their first five Budgets, $123 billion in projected deficits in their last Budget and taking Government debt to $667 billion, forcing us to borrow $1 billion a month to pay the interest on the debt that they have accumulated. So I mean Labor is being reckless and irresponsible. That is bad for Australia and it's time that Bill Shorten started to reflect on the national interest.
LYNDAL CURTIS: Finally, how many times are you willing to put things to the Senate. You say you're willing to put them for a second time, are you willing to just keep going until it gets passed?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Right now, we've only just started. The Budget was delivered less than 2 months ago, there's obviously been a level of public debate since then. There's been a level of debate in the Parliament. All of the Budget measures at this stage are going to the Senate for the first time. Let's see where we are once every Budget measure has been considered by the Senate and obviously we will cross that bridge when we get there.
LYNDAL CURTIS: Do you believe that you have the communication skills and negotiation skills required on your side of politics to get these measures through?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well we continue to give it our best every day to explain why there is no alternative to the Budget that we have delivered. People might think that it was a tough Budget, but if we don't make those decisions today, if we continue to kick the can down the road, those decisions will only become tougher in the future.
LYNDAL CURTIS: Mathias Cormann, thank you very much for your time.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to be here.