Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
JOHN CADOGAN: I don’t know about you but I like it when our senior politicians have hands on practical skills outside the paper shuffling domain. And we are about to talk to one who apparently does. Mathias Cormann is the Minister for Finance. He was sworn in by the Abbott Government on the 18th of September 2013, so a little bit over a year worth of doing that. Before that though you might not have ever even heard his name. As I understand it, he is also a qualified private pilot. How do you feel on final approach to a stiff cross wind landing Mathias?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Cross wind landings are nice and challenging. It’s good. Over here in Western Australia when you land on Rottnest Island in a small aircraft, there are some pretty stiff cross winds coming from the side over the hills and that sort of makes it nice and interesting.
JOHN CADOGAN: Yeah interesting is one way to describe it. You are in the moment though aren’t you?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Yeah, sure. But you keep training to make sure that you do it in the best possible way.
JOHN CADOGAN: Alright, now in a sense I guess though you are the deputy Treasurer; that would be another way to describe being the Finance Minister and you are flying the economy and it has had a challenging run, that would be one way to describe that as well. Are you going to get Christmas day off?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I will take Christmas day off, but I would also say that in 2014 the economy has actually performed much better than people might have thought. 2.7 per cent growth up from 1.9 per cent growth the year before, jobs have grown three times the rate than the year before. So, we are facing some global economic headwinds, but we are very confident that 2015 will be even better.
JOHN CADOGAN: What’s the difference between the Finance ministry and the Treasury?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Finance Minister looks after the expenditure right across Government, whereas the Treasury and the Treasurer look after macro-economic issues and also revenue. The Finance Minister looks after micro-economic issues such as privatisations and also expenditure right across Government.
JOHN CADOGAN: Alright, so both of them are pretty big jobs you would have to say and one of the things about your job is that people would not have heard of your name, many people would not have heard of your name before the 18th of September 2013 and now you are regularly reported in the news and all of those sorts of things and on a day like today when I don’t really want to talk to you about the nitty gritty of what you do or critique anything, how do you feel personally about being thrust into the lime light in this way and the effect that has on you when you recognised in the public when you are just walking down the street? Do you enjoy that aspect of your job or would you prefer to be slightly more anonymous?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I really enjoy being part of a team that is trying to make our country even stronger. Up until 18 September I would say that everything I did before then was preparation. I did spend six years in opposition in various shadow Ministerial roles, but admittedly that doesn’t come with the same level of public profile. But in a way, everything up until such time as you get the opportunity to serve in the national Government, it is really all preparation and training. From my point of view now, you don’t go into the job to be recognised. You go into the job because you want to make a difference, because you want to be part of a team that takes Australia forward. That is a great privilege.
JOHN CADOGAN: Absolutely and a huge responsibility from which you are getting some respite on Christmas Day. Now what happens in the Cormann household on Christmas Day? Do you have young kids? Are you going to be instilling the magic of Christmas into them hopefully?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I’ve got a little girl, who is just 22 months old, Isabelle. It will be her first Christmas I think where she’s conscious of what’s going on. Last year she was still a bit little. My wife’s parents will come over and join us, as well as her brother and sister-in-law. We’ll have a big Christmas lunch.
JOHN CADOGAN: Well that sounds like a fantastic way to do Christmas basically. I can remember when my kids were young, the definition of magic is the expression on a young child’s face unwrapping those presents. So if you can possibly box that and store it and unwrap it when the chips are down later on, I suggest strongly that you do that Mathias.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well I can’t wait to see my little girl open her presents. I think there will be a few things there that will get her excited.
JOHN CADOGAN: Alright, well I hope you have a cracker of a Christmas Day and a well-earned but brief rest before you get back on the horse. It’s fantastic of you to spend some time talking to us this morning.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Merry Christmas to you and your listeners.
JOHN CADOGAN: Thank you very much, that’s Mathias Cormann. He is the Finance Minister and that’s what’s going on for one brief day of Ministerial respite.