Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good to be here.
JOHN MCGLUE: Where has it all gone so wrong for you guys?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We came into Government in September 2013. We found a very challenging situation, a weakening economy, rising unemployment, a rapidly deteriorating budget position. So as well as implementing all of the commitments we took to the last election like scrapping the carbon tax, scrapping the mining tax and so on we had to make some difficult though we would say necessary decisions to put Australia on a stronger foundation for the future and that has not always been popular. There has been an impact of that in terms of public perceptions of the Government.
JOHN MCGLUE: Yes, but you haven’t been able to convince the Australian public of this, but you haven’t even been able to convince your own colleagues of the necessity for these measures, fixing the budget and those other issues that you raised. Where has it all gone so wrong inside the Parliamentary Liberal party?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Inside the Parliamentary Liberal party I believe that the leadership team and the agenda that we have put forward has overwhelming support. It certainly has the unanimous support of the Cabinet. Yes, you are quite right, a number of colleagues are concerned to the point where today two of them have initiated a spill motion. That is not a course of action that I support. They are entitled to their views and on Tuesday that matter will be resolved in the party room. I will be supporting the current leadership team. I will be supporting Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop who took us successfully to the last election. I will be supporting stability and not going down the path of the previous Labor administration.
JOHN MCGLUE: I wonder Mathias Cormann, what is happening here in WA, what is happening in your own State in Western Australia because this State is holding up in terms of Liberal support better than any other across the country but there are three MPs here in WA, that have expressed no confidence in your leader. Why do you think that has happened with these three MPs?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I’m not going to be a commentator on my colleagues. What I can say is that Tony Abbott in 2010 and in 2013, together with Julie Bishop, did achieve a very strong result here in Western Australia. West Australians very much voted against Labor, against the chaos and dysfunction of the previous Labor government. They voted for a team that would work to strengthen the economy, to create more jobs, to get rid of the mining tax and the carbon tax, to maintain our national security, to stop the boats. On all of those accounts the Government has been delivering. The boats have stopped effectively, the carbon tax and the mining tax have gone, the economy is growing more strongly than what it was before, 2.7 per cent in 2014 up from 1.9 per cent the year before, 600 jobs a day created last year, three times as many as the year before. There is much more work to be done, but we are heading in the right direction. We are making progress and we have just got to stick with the plan and we have to stick with our current leadership team of Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop.
Senator Cormann I will ask you to bear with me for a moment, because we do need to bring our listeners some important bushfire information and I will just cross to Jamie Burnett briefly.
Jamie thanks so much, it's seventeen after five on Drive, John McGlue with you. My guest is Senator Mathias Cormann, the senior WA politician in the Federal Senate. He is the Finance Minister and Senator welcome back, thank you for bearing with us. The Prime Minister said today that the Liberal party wasn’t the Labor party, making a very pointed remark about how the Labor party just kept changing its leaders and how it pursued and tried to unseat a first term Labor Prime Minister. How is the Liberal party any different, because what you guys are doing is exactly what the Labor party did?
MATHIAS CORMANN: No, it isn’t exactly what the Labor party did. We have the opportunity of repudiating the Labor approach on Tuesday and that is why I am calling on my colleagues not to support the spill motion. At the last election we decided to put Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop forward as our Leader and Deputy Leader going into the election. The Australian people elected us into Government with Tony Abbott as our Leader and Julie Bishop as our Deputy Leader. I believe that the party room ought to and needs to support Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop to continue in those roles to do the job that we said we would do, to build a stronger, more prosperous economy and to ensure Australia is safe and secure. That is the way that I will be voting and that is what I would encourage all of my colleagues to very seriously consider.
JOHN MCGLUE: Do you know there is an issue regardless of the result of the party room meeting, Mathias Cormann, there is an issue because if it is a close vote we know there is going to be a number of MPs who will vote to try and unseat the Prime Minister, even if it doesn’t happen, you are going to have a divided party room. How is the Prime Minister going to deal with that, if he is successful next week, how is he going to deal with that recalcitrant rump of MPs who don’t want him in the top job?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I do believe that Tony Abbott is the best person to lead our party moving forward and you have to remember that back in 2009, he won the leadership of the Liberal party by one vote. Since then nobody can say that he hasn’t been a successful leader of the Liberal party. He nearly took us to victory in an unprecedented first term election after having lost the 2007 election. We nearly won the election in 2010 under his leadership. He brought us back, he and Julie Bishop took us back into Government after just six years in Opposition. Tony Abbott has done it before. Tony Abbott has forged a very strong and united team in Opposition, we have been a strong and united team for most of the period in Government. We have had a difficult couple of weeks, there is no arguing around that and it is very important that we get back to what made us strong and what was such a strong contrast between us and the Labor party. That is why I would argue very strongly that we need to support stability, we need to support Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop and we need to vote against this spill motion.
JOHN MCGLUE: Senator Mathias Cormann thank you so much for your time today.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you.