Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
LEON COMPTON: Our guest this morning Rhonda and Jennifer and Bastian talking about the Budget that’s been. You might like to join the conversation too. I’ll get you to hold there for a moment, we’ll get say hello to Mathias Cormann who is the Federal Finance Minister. Minister Cormann, good morning to you.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good morning.
LEON COMPTON: Thank you for talking with us this morning. I will start with you where I started with Andrew Nikolic, the member for Bass. You and I have spoken about this in the past, why did it take 12 months for the Government to work out that cutting support for under 30’s for six months if they lost their job was a bad idea?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We’ve listened and learned. We’ve consulted widely and we’ve made a considered decision on the best way forward. There are always a lot of moving parts in any Budget. We are committed to do what needs to be done to strengthen growth, create more jobs and to get the Budget back into surplus as soon as possible. So there were a lot of things to weigh up. We have gone through that process and we’ve made some decisions which are reflected in last night’s Budget.
LEON COMPTON: The University of Tasmania wants a big investment to develop a couple of the campuses in the north of the State. Did you consider making that a Budget item this year?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I haven’t personally been involved in any discussions around a project at the University of Tasmania but I’m sure that the Minister for Education is very happy to consider that and bring it forward once it is in the right shape to be brought forward.
LEON COMPTON: In what way was this a Budget for Tasmania?
MATHIAS CORMANN: This is a Budget for the whole of Australia including a Budget for Tasmania, because it is strengthening growth, strengthening job creation and helping to repair the national Budget. Our initiatives for small business are helping small businesses across Tasmania to be more successful. The opportunity to immediately write off up to $20,000 worth of investments into assets and equipment that help make Tasmanian businesses more successful into the future is good news for Tasmanian businesses and will help generate more jobs in Tasmania over the years ahead.
LEON COMPTON: Okay. Your Labor opponents would say that when you came to power, you scrapped Labor’s $6,500 small business depreciation saying it was unaffordable. Now you’ve gone back and made it $20,000.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Labor linked it to a failed mining tax which didn’t raise any money, whereas we have integrated it into our responsible long term economic plan, which also involved us getting back to surplus in a credible way. There are a range of things that we have done in Tasmania. We’ve already announced a significant investment into water dam infrastructure, we’ve already announced the fact that we are investing into an expansion of the freight equalisation scheme, we’re also investing in upgrades to the Midland Highway which are improving safety and efficiency across that very important piece of road infrastructure. We are investing in the freight rail revitalisation with about $60 million worth of funding from the Federal Government. We’re investing in the Brooker Highway. There is a whole range of investments, federal investments into infrastructure and into strengthening Tasmanian economic growth into the future where we are partnering with the Hodgman Government to make sure that Tasmania is as successful as it can be.
LEON COMPTON: You criticised the Government for tieing one thing to another, but that is exactly what your Government is doing, in tieing education reform in the tertiary sector to the deregulation of that sector. You’re tieing your childcare reforms to the axing of Family Tax Benefit B. What about the prospect that much of the announcements of last night’s Budget simply won’t be able to get through the Senate.
MATHIAS CORMANN: There is a very simple but important principle. That is, wherever as a country we make a judgment that we need to invest more in one area, we have got to be able to pay for it. Given that we’re in a deficit position still, the only way to pay for it is by making savings in other parts of the Budget. That is the very simple proposition around Australia. Any family, any small business would know that if they want to spend more on some things, then they’ll have to spend less on other things, unless they can increase their revenue from various sources. One way to increase revenue is to strengthen economic growth which is also exactly what we’re trying to do.
LEON COMPTON: A couple of questions from our listeners this morning. Can you tell Will in Signet if sole traders are covered in the small business tax benefits in the Budget?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Yes they are. Anyone with an ABN is eligible, as long as their annual turnover is not more than $2 million.
LEON COMPTON: I’ve got Jen sitting in front of me. She doesn’t like the language that your party are using in describing people who are claiming a maternity benefit from the Government and their employer as double dipping.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Most women across Australia are able to access just one paid parental leave scheme. What we’re saying is that if women are able to access a more generous paid parental leave scheme through their private or public sector employer, then we don’t believe that in those circumstances the taxpayer should be able to fund access to a second paid parental leave scheme. We think that is a fairness and equity measure. We understand that people who might have thought that they could access two schemes instead of one might be disappointed, but we think it is fair to put everyone on the same level. This is only coming into effect as of 1 July 2016, just to make that really clear. Anyone who is pregnant at the moment is not going to be impacted by this. The reason I explain that is because I have had a couple of enquiries asking me to clarify that.
LEON COMPTON: Good to talk to you this morning.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good to talk to you.