Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
MATHIAS CORMANN: As of today we are focused exclusively on the job that we were elected to do by the Australian people. As of today we are back exclusively focused on jobs, families, a stronger economy and a secure nation. We have put our internal issues behind us. The party room vote yesterday was clear. The Prime Minister enjoys the full support of the party room and we are now getting on with doing the job that we were elected to do, working to strengthen the economy, create more jobs, help families and ensure that Australia is safe and secure. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Minister, the Daily Telegraph reports today that six Ministers in fact voted against the Prime Minister yesterday. Should they name themselves and stand down?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I don’t believe that’s right. I believe that the Prime Minister enjoyed the unanimous support of his Cabinet. That is the indication that my colleagues have given. I trust my colleagues. What is clear from the result yesterday is that the Prime Minister enjoys the clear support of the party room. It is now time to move on. It is now time to again focus exclusively on the job that we were elected to do and that is to strengthen the economy, create more jobs, help families and ensure that Australia is safe and secure.
JOURNALIST: You said clear support of the Cabinet but do you think he has the clear support of the Ministry as well?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is a secret ballot. What I do know is that no Minister has indicated that they no longer had confidence in the Prime Minister. I trust my colleagues. Given that no Minister has indicated publicly that they don’t have confidence in the Prime Minister, I work on the assumption that the Prime Minister enjoys the unanimous support of his Cabinet, the unanimous support of his Ministry. What the result yesterday shows is that the Prime Minister has the clear support of the party room. It is now time for all of us to move on and to focus again exclusively on the best interest of the people of Australia and that is that we now ought to again focus exclusively on our efforts to strengthen the economy, create more jobs, help families and ensure that Australia is safe and secure.
JOURNALIST: Do you think Joe Hockey will keep his job?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Joe Hockey enjoys the full support of the Prime Minister.
JOURNALIST: Minister, the Prime Minister said he has changed yesterday and that he will be constantly tested from now on. How do you hope that he will change and how will he be tested?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Prime Minister received a wakeup call yesterday. The Prime Minister yesterday received the clear support of the party room but he also received a clear message. All of us in Government, all of us in the Cabinet, all of us in the Ministry received a clear message. The backbench, our backbench wants the Government to do better. We are committed to do better. We will do better. Last week the Prime Minister gave a clear and strong speech to the Press Club. He announced a range of changes there. The Paid Parental Leave scheme that we had been pursuing before has gone. The Prime Minister’s Knighthoods have gone. There have been a range of changes to Cabinet processes, internal party processes, processes around staffing appointments and the like that have been announced in recent days and over the past week. All of those changes now will take effect. Yesterday the party room clearly indicated to the Prime Minister and to the Cabinet that they want the Cabinet to have more time to turn things around. I believe very strongly, I believe with every fibre of my body that we can turn things around. I also believe that the Australian people need us to turn things around, because the worse thing for Australia, the last thing that the Australian people need, is a return to a bad Labor government of the past.
JOURNALIST: Are you confident that no one in the Ministry would like to see Malcolm Turnbull replace Joe Hockey as Treasurer?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I trust my colleagues. I believe that the Prime Minister and our deputy leader enjoy the full support and have the full confidence of everyone in the Cabinet and everyone in the Ministry.
JOURNALIST: There is some bane for the blood of Peta Credlin today, is her job secure?
MATHIAS CORMANN: That is not a matter for me. These discussions in recent days are not about staffing arrangements. This is about our country. All of us as Ministers, from the Prime Minister down, we are responsible for our performance. We are responsible for the job we do. As of today, we are again focused exclusively on the job that we were elected to do, that is to build a stronger economy, create more jobs, help families and ensure Australia is safe and secure.
JOURNALIST: Minister, the Prime Minister also promised there would be no recriminations after yesterday. Do you think this story in the Daily Telegraph might be a sign of that though?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There absolutely won’t be any recriminations. All of us in the Liberal Party now have to pull together. We have to go back to what made us strong and so effective in the past. From Opposition into Government, for most of our period in Government, we have been a strong and united team that was a sharp contrast to the chaos and dysfunction of six years of bad Labor government. Yesterday the party room made a very clear decision that the Liberal party is not going to go down the path of Labor chaos and dysfunction. We made a clear decision yesterday to press ahead and to support Tony Abbott as our leader and Julie Bishop as our deputy.
JOURNALIST: As a Minister that has been quite successful with negotiating with the crossbench, yesterday we heard from Tony Abbott saying that there won’t be any big reforms announced without talking to the crossbench first and ensuring there might be a path through the Senate. Have you given any advice to the Prime Minister on your negotiating tactics?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I’m not going to talk about internal discussions within the Government. What the Prime Minister indicated is that whenever we progress important reforms for the future of Australia, we will ensure that any proposals are properly socialised with the crossbench but also with the Australian people before they are implemented. That is, in our judgement, based on the experience of the last sixteen, seventeen months or so, a better, more promising way forward. At the end of the day we do need to make progress when it comes to putting Australia on a stronger foundation for the future.
JOURNALIST: What do you mean by socialised?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It means what it means. It means making sure that we have a conversation… interrupted
JOURNALIST: Does it mean committees of the backbench about every policy? What does socialise actually mean?
MATHIAS CORMANN: For any important structural reform designed to protect our living standards, designed to strengthen our economy, designed to ensure that Government expenditure is put on an affordable and sustainable trajectory for the future there will be a conversation, not only with the crossbench, but more importantly, in particular, with the Australian people, to ensure that everyone is very clear on the challenges that we are facing, the opportunities in front of us and the proposals the Government has in order to deal with any challenges and maximise any opportunities. That is what we intend to do moving forward.
JOURNALIST: Minister was yesterday a worthwhile exercise in your view?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We would obviously rather if we hadn’t been in the situation that we found ourselves in yesterday. Having said that, I do believe it will make us better and stronger as a Government. I do believe that the Prime Minister and all of us in the Government will come out of this process better and stronger. It has been a salutary lesson. We have listened, we have learned and we are acting and moving forward. We are now back, exclusively, focused on the job that we were elected to do and that is to build a stronger, more prosperous economy and create more jobs.
Thank you very much.