Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
BARRY NICHOLLS: Mathias Cormann, good afternoon.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good afternoon. Good to be here.
BARRY NICHOLLS: Were you surprised by this motion?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I didn’t know it was going to happen. There had been a bit of noise in recent days, but let me just say right up front, I will be voting against this motion. I will be voting in support of stability and in support of the leadership team that took us successfully to the last election, with Tony Abbott as our Leader and Julie Bishop as our Deputy Leader.
BARRY NICHOLLS: You know that you’re going to be supporting Tony Abbott. What do you know about the other side of the fence?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I know that Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop have the unanimous support of the Cabinet. I believe they have the overwhelming support of the party room. I believe that the spill motion will be defeated on Tuesday.
BARRY NICHOLLS: Spill or no spill, how do you think this will affect the party in the long term?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We’ve had a few issues to deal with over the past few weeks and we need to get on top of those. We need to focus on the job that we were elected to do and that is to build a stronger more prosperous economy, create more jobs and ensure that Australia is safe and secure. We took a series of significant commitments to the last election, that we would stop the boats, that we would scrap the carbon tax and the mining tax, we’ve delivered on all of those. We’ve said that we would roll out a significant infrastructure investment program and that is underway... interrupted.
BARRY NICHOLLS: Yet we have these problems. Why do you think it’s got to this point where we’ve got a spill underway?
MATHIAS CORMANN: When we came into Government in September 2013 we inherited a weakening economy, rising unemployment and a rapidly deteriorating Budget position. As well as implementing the commitments we took to the last election we had to make some difficult, though we would say necessary decisions last year, in order to put Australia on a stronger foundation for the future and that has been unpopular in parts of the electorate... interrupted.
BARRY NICHOLLS: Sorry to interrupt, it might be unpopular with some parts of the electorate, but the criticism has been about Tony Abbott and the way he has made decisions, as opposed to the policies that you’ve introduced. Decisions like the Knighthood, decisions like the GP co-payment. Why does that happen?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Tony Abbott understands that it was not a good decision to award that particular Knighthood, but we’ve got to put this into perspective though. He took us successfully to the last election as Leader of the Liberal party. He worked very hard in the lead up to the last election. He is the one who led the charge in developing the policy agenda that we’re now implementing to take Australia forward. He made some significant comments earlier this week as part of his speech to the Press Club where he set out his priorities for 2015 and also explained the different approach he would be taking moving forward. I believe that Tony Abbott has earned the opportunity to give effect to those changes he has flagged.
BARRY NICHOLLS: Those comments at the Press Club clearly hasn’t resonated with all though. So why have we still though, even though Tony Abbott has come out and said his bit, and we still have a spill motion. Why is that?
MATHIAS CORMANN: They haven’t resonated with 100 per cent of our colleagues, but I believe that they have resonated with the overwhelming majority of our colleagues and that is the way the system works. As I’ve said right up front, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Leader enjoy the unanimous support of the Cabinet and I believe that they enjoy the overwhelming support of the party room. As such, I believe they should and they will continue in their current position beyond Tuesday.
BARRY NICHOLLS: Mathias Cormann, thank you for chatting with us, appreciate it.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you.