Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
SHANE: Clairsy, Shane and Kymba, Mix 94.5, ten after eight. No cigars flying around last night but definitely plenty of talk about small business and childcare and families benefiting from the 2015 Federal Budget. Let’s find out more from the Government themselves, from the Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann who is online. Minister Cormann, good morning.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good morning.
SHANE: Mate, I’m not a smart guy but what’s the difference between a Finance Minister and a Treasurer, it sounds like the same job to me.
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Treasurer looks after the economy overall and the revenue side of the Budget. The Finance Minister looks after the expenditure side of the Budget and microeconomic reform issues such as asset sales, government business enterprises and the like.
SHANE: Okay, I have no idea what you just said because I’m not a smart guy.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Just think about it. Revenue and spending. I’m sure you know about revenue and spending. The Treasurer looks after the income, I look after the spending side of the Budget.
SHANE: Okay, what do you reckon? How was it?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are continuing to press ahead. Strengthening growth, creating more jobs and getting the Budget back to surplus.
CLAIRSY: Lateline host Emma Alberici seemed to have you cracking under the pressure last night. Do you find it hard to be up against the media when you’re having to back something that the public could easily see as lies and flip-flopping.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Not at all. I always enjoy my interviews with Emma Alberici. I think she’s a great lady and last night was no different. When you are putting something forward as the Government and something as significant as the Budget, you expect to be scrutinised. You expect to be tested and challenged. We always do our best to provide good answers. It is only when you get good hard questions that you actually can get the best possible answers out there.
KYMBA: Minister Cormann, I’ve got to say 18 pages of numbers and headlines and detail in The West Australian. For the average Aussie family, how are they going to benefit? Can you summarise that for us?
MATHIAS CORMANN: In this year’s Budget we have been able to make some additional investments, helping families access more affordable, simpler, more flexible childcare and also we’ve been able to provide some incentives to small business to go out and have a go.
KYMBA: I see the small business bit in the Fin Review today. Entrepreneurs get $5 billion to have a go. Is the unemployment situation that dire?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are still growing below trend and at this stage, while employment is growing more quickly than before, it is still not growing strongly enough to absorb population growth. So we do need to do better and we have put initiatives in this Budget to strengthen growth into the future. A very important part of that is incentivising small business to be the most successful they can be and incentivising them to employ more Australians. That's what we have tried to do last night.
CLAIRSY: How long have you been working on the Budget? You can look at some things and it almost appears like a kneejerk reaction when we say we’re cutting foreign aid and 40 per cent cuts to the aid we provide to Indonesia. Could that be off the back of what’s just happened?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Not at all. The cuts to foreign aid were actually announced in last year’s Budget and in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook before Christmas. What Julie Bishop, the Foreign Minister, has done since then is very carefully consider the overall funding envelope for foreign aid and she has made decisions on how to allocate those savings to individual countries. She used some very sensible criteria. For example, we were putting aid into countries that are making foreign aid payments to other countries themselves and we didn’t quite think that was a very sensible thing to do. There are some economies that are growing very strongly, that are not in the same situation anymore that they were when we made decisions in years gone by to spend at certain levels on foreign aid. So Julie Bishop considered very carefully what the funding envelope was and what the most appropriate spending profile is when it comes to foreign aid, prioritising smaller countries in our region.
SHANE: The Opposition are coming out and saying things, the rhetoric is along the lines of we’ll support what we can support this time. How confident are you of getting support that you didn’t get in 2014, because there is still some things that weren’t passed?
MATHIAS CORMANN: 80 per cent of the measures in last year’s Budget have passed. We have made significant progress since then. We have put forward what we believe is a fair, responsible and balanced Budget and we believe it is the Budget that Australia needs right now. A Budget in the national interest. We will have the conversation now with the Senate and all parties represented in the parliament. We are looking to constructively engage with everyone and work together to take Australia forward.
SHANE: Some are winners. I like the fact that you’re giving some dividend to employees to get people over 50 who have been unemployed for six months. It’s very tough for somebody to get back into the workplace if they have been out for over six months and they are in their 50’s. They lose their self-esteem etcetera. You’re giving some kind of dividend to employees to get them back in the workplace.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Yes, that is exactly what we are trying to do. We are keen to ensure that people across Australia can work longer. We need Australians to work longer. We are ageing as a population, we are living longer and healthier which is a fantastic thing. But it is also important in that context that the mindset across Australia, across business, continues to adjust to that reality.
SHANE: I can tell you right now, the peanuts they’re paying me, I’m going to have to work until 80.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I’m sure you’ll enjoy every minute of it.
SHANE: I love it in here.
KYMBA: Let’s sum it up by saying if you pay peanuts you get monkeys. Thanks Minister Cormann, have a good day. Good luck with the sales.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Thank you.