Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
JOURNALIST: Have you seen the poll results this morning?
MATHIAS CORMANN: What it shows is that whenever we focus on the issues that matter to the Australian people, we make progress in the community. So we just press ahead and do the job that we were elected to do and that is to put Australia on a stronger foundation for the future, helping to strengthen the economy, create more jobs and help families.
JOURNALIST: Has it headed off a leadership challenge though?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I don't know what you are talking about. There was no leadership challenge imminent that I am aware of.
JOURNALIST: Reports over the last couple of days that you guys were looking at a leadership challenge.
MATHIAS CORMANN: You shouldn't believe everything that you read either, that you read in the newspaper or even that you hear or see on television.
JOURNALIST: You said that when you focus on the issues that matter, is that an acknowledgement that you have had some times in the past month where the issues that matter have been put on the backburner for leadership?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have had a difficult couple of weeks indeed. We have had a difficult month. But what I would say is that if you look at the poll results today, Bill Shorten has clearly weakened significantly in terms of the public perception of his role and the way he performs his job and that is because he had not been able to help himself. He has been playing politics instead of focusing on the issues that matter to the Australian people.
JOURNALIST: Haven’t you got the policies skip bin out at the moment? The GP co-payment, the RET and the six month waiting period for the dole?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are focusing on taking Australia forward. We are focusing on the policies necessary to strengthen the economy, create more jobs, to help families and to ensure Australia is safe and secure. With some of the structural reforms that we have put forward in last year's Budget, we continue the process of consulting with key stakeholders on refining and fine tuning some of the proposals that have been put forward in the past and relevant announcements will be made when we are in a position to make them.
JOURNALIST: Are you dropping the GP co-payment because it is bad policy or because it is a good policy that got stuck in the Senate?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Our commitment when it comes to health is to protect Medicare for the long term. We want to ensure that Medicare remains sustainable and affordable for the long term. We want to ensure that vulnerable patients, pensioners, concession cardholders and the like can continue to have access to bulk-billing arrangements and we believe that those of us who can afford to make a small contribution towards the cost of their own health care should be required to do so. Now having said all of that, the Health Minister Sussan Ley has been consulting with the medical profession and other stakeholders on the best way forward. She will be reporting to the Cabinet and the party room and some decisions will be made on the best way forward. Our commitment remains to ensure that Medicare is protected for the long term and that Medicare remains sustainable and affordable for taxpayers over the long term.
JOURNALIST: What about the waiting period for the dole though? Is that also going?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Again, I'm not here making any announcements this morning. I haven't made an announcement in relation to the GP co-payment so when you say 'also', I think you're get a bit ahead of yourself. Our commitment when it comes to young people is to get young people that are currently unemployed back into work. Our commitment is to ensure that young people don't go straight from school onto the dole. That they go from school either into learning more or earning. We're continuing to work through the detail of what is possible in the current settings in the Senate, with all of the relevant parties represented in the Senate and let's see what comes out at the other end of the process.
JOURNALIST: But it's looking unlikely though for the Senate...
MATHIAS CORMANN: I'll leave the analysis and the observation and the commentary to you. From where I sit, we will just continue to press ahead and work to achieve the best possible outcome for the Australian people.
JOURNALIST: Clive Palmer says Palmer United Senators won't support any Government legislation until the leadership turmoil is settled, does that worry you?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I get together with Clive Palmer from time to time to talk about good policy for Australia and I'm hopeful that we will continue to be able to make progress in the same way that we've made progress in the past. In any event, leadership in the Liberal Party was settled some weeks ago in a party room vote and all of us now are pressing forward, ensuring that we do the best we can to put Australia on a stronger foundation for the future.
JOURNALIST: Just back to the poll, Malcolm Turnbull is ahead of Tony Abbott as preferred Liberal Leader, is that a concern and how can Mr Abbott turn that around?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Malcolm Turnbull is a distinguished member of the Abbott Government. He has made an outstanding contribution as a senior Minister over the last year and a half in the Abbott Government. I'm very confident he'll continue to make a distinguished contribution over the next year and a half in the lead up to the next election. So that is a very good thing that we have a popular, outstanding Minister as part of the Abbott Government.