Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
DAVID SPEERS: We are trying to talk to as many people as we can in the hour or there abouts left before this party room meeting. The Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is with us now and a strong opponent of the spill motion, a strong supporter of the Prime Minister certainly over the last week. Let me just pick up on a few things that have been said. Kieran has reported just in the last half hour that his understanding is Julie Bishop will not be a candidate even if the spill gets up. That an agreement has been reached that it would only be Malcolm Turnbull. Any reaction to that?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I don’t believe the spill will get up. I will be voting against the spill motion, because I support the leadership team that took us successfully to the last election and that is Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop. I believe Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop are best equipped to take us successfully to the next election.
DAVID SPEERS: Let me hold that thought and hear from the Prime Minister who is just speaking on his way out of the church service. No, okay, he is actually speaking during the church service. We’ll leave that and let you know if he does talk to reporters. Mathias Cormann, let me ask you further on that. Are you willing to work with. Sorry I am just getting a conflicting thing. Mathias Cormann, let me ask you are you willing to work with Malcolm Turnbull as leader and Prime Minister?
MATHIAS CORMANN: This is not about me. This is about the country and what our country needs is stable Government. What our country needs is the Government that was elected at the last election to continue, to continue to focus on the things that we said we would do, to strengthen the economy, create more jobs, help families and maintain our national security. That is what I am focused on. This is not about me individually. It is not about any of us individually. So nothing that I have done over this last week has been in any way, shape or form focused on my own personal circumstances.
KIERAN GILBERT: Cory Bernardi says that this has been plotted for months. He has pointed the finger at Malcolm Turnbull. Says that he has undermined the Prime Minister, he is up to his ears in it, that he should quit the Cabinet if the spill motion is not successful. What is your response to Senator Bernardi?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I don’t agree with that. I think that Malcolm Turnbull has been an outstanding Minister in the Abbott Government. He has been a team player absolutely. He has made a tremendous contribution. He has been loyal to the Prime Minister. He has indicated that he will be voting against the spill motion this morning. So I take Malcolm Turnbull as his word and I look forward to working with him as part of the Abbott Government over the next year and half to the next election.
DAVID SPEERS: Do you believe this has been a coordinated push?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not a commentator. I will leave the analysis to the media. From my point of view, I am focused on what I need to do this morning and what I need to do this morning is vote against the spill in support of Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop.
DAVID SPEERS: Does the size of the vote matter to you?
MATHIAS CORMANN: What I would say is that just over five years ago the Prime Minister won the leadership of the Liberal Party by one vote. What he showed after that is that he was able to unite the team into a strong and effective Opposition team and within less than a year he nearly took us to election victory after just one term in Opposition. History shows Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop successfully took us from Opposition into Government after just two terms in Opposition.
KIERAN GILBERT: I spoke to a couple of backbenchers yesterday who say that their campaign to have leadership change won’t stop today. That they are not going to rest. They believe that the Prime Minister is toxic in the electorate.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I certainly hope that won’t be the case. I hope that after today the air is cleared and that we all pull together and again exclusively focus on the job that we were elected to do, which is to work to strengthen the economy, create more jobs, help families and ensure that Australia is safe and secure.
DAVID SPEERS: The six or seven MPs have at least gone public now to say they want a change of leader have complained about the lack of consultation, the way they have been treated and the policy decisions as well. When you look at the polls today they again show you they would be absolutely wiped out. They would lose their jobs. So what confidence can you give them that things would change if they stick with the same guy?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Firstly, given the week that we have had I am surprised that the polls aren’t worse. Secondly, I worked in the Howard Government back in March 2001, when the polls were even worse. We had just lost the state elections in Western Australia and Queensland. We were about to lose the blue ribbon seat of Ryan in Queensland at a by-election. Then Prime Minister Howard was able to turn the situation around and within less than seven or eight months was able to claim victory at a general election.
DAVID SPEERS: He had the Tampa and September 11 to help him.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well before that you would remember as a political historian, in July he won the Aston by-election, against expectations. He had already started to turn things around. I’m a great believer in Tony Abbott’s capacity to turn the situation around. Tony Abbott has been written off many times before and every time he has come back better and stronger. I believe he will come back better and stronger this time around.
DAVID SPEERS: Mathias Cormann thank you. Good luck with that party room meeting this morning.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Thank you..