Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
JOURNALIST: How is adding a temporary tariff on petrol easing the cost of living on Australians?
MATHIAS CORMANN: What we have announced yesterday is a revised implementation arrangement for a measure that we announced in the Budget. It will have a modest impact on households. A typical household using about 50 litres of fuel a week will pay an extra 40 cents a week for their petrol by the end of this financial year. However, this measure will have a significant impact on our capacity to build a stronger, more prosperous economy, because all of the additional revenue it will generate will be invested in job creating, productivity enhancing road infrastructure. Over time, that will boost jobs, it will boost the opportunity for people right across Australia to get ahead and it will also boost revenue for Government, helping us repair the Budget mess we have inherited from our predecessors.
JOURNALIST: So it's not easing cost of living pressures at all?
MATHIAS CORMANN: As I've said, the impact on households will be modest. It will be 40 cents a week in additional costs for your typical family by the end of this financial year. But it is an important structural reform. Over the last fourteen years, the value of the excise on fuel has been eroded by inflation, it was worth 42 per cent of the average fuel price at the pump back in 2001. It is worth about 25 per cent now. The judgment that we made at Budget time was that we need to ensure that the value of the excise on fuel kept pace with inflation and that is what we gave effect to yesterday.
JOURNALIST: Minister, was this decision discussed with the Party room before it was made to take this avenue?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It went through all the proper processes of the Party yes.
JOURNALIST: So it was discussed in the Party room?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Yes, it was discussed very specifically. It went through all of the proper processes of the Party.
JOURNALIST: Would you support an investigation into the allegations about Nova Peris we've seen in the paper this morning?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I'm not going to get into that.
JOURNALIST: Is this a ploy to force the Greens' hand when it comes to supporting fuel indexation?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is not a ploy at all. What it is, is the Government giving effect efficiently and effectively to the measure which we announced in the Budget. We said at Budget time that we were committed to reintroducing regular indexation of fuel. What we announced yesterday was a process that is explicitly provided for in the relevant legislation. It is a process that the previous Labor Government themselves used when it came to their measure to increase the excise and customs duty on 'alcopops'. There is nothing new under the sun here. The Government is working to give effect to the measures that we announced in the Budget.
JOURNALIST: Is it something that you are in discussion with the Greens on? It is certainly something they have indicated n the past that they would support.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well the Greens have taken a very strange attitude to this. The Greens so far have given an indication that they are in favour of regular and ongoing reductions in the real value of the excise on fuel. We don't think that is economically responsible. We would have thought that from their point of view, they would have supported this sort of measure. That is certainly what their policy platform and their supporters seem to indicate, but it is a matter for the Greens to decide on how they are going to deal with it from here.
JOURNALIST: Are you actively in discussions with them at the moment?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are always in discussions with all parties represented in the Parliament when it comes to progressing the measures in the Budget, measures that Australia needs.