Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
MATHIAS CORMANN: Today Bill Shorten will have to demonstrate to the Australian people that he has what it takes to act in the national interest. Today he will have to show us the money. How is he going to pay for his new spending? How is he going to pay for not proceeding with the savings that he continues to oppose? If he doesn’t like the Coalition’s savings, what are his savings? Or is his only plan to tax the retirement savings of people across Australia saving for their retirement? Is his only plan to pay for Labor’s spending to increases taxes on people saving for their retirement? As I said, today is the opportunity for Bill Shorten to show to the Australian people that he has what it takes to act in the national interest. Australia will be watching. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: In terms of the Senate crossbench, a few of them saying that they won’t back the Family Tax Benefit B changes or the so called double-dipping paid parental leaves changes, concerning?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The question today is for Bill Shorten. How is he going to pay for Labor’s new spending? How is he going to pay for not proceeding with savings that Labor continues to oppose under his leadership? The eyes of the nation are on Bill Shorten today. Does he have what it takes to make the difficult decisions in the national interest? Or is he just a lazy Opposition leader not prepared to do the hard yards?
JOURNALIST: Let’s say the Opposition does oppose as you expect them to do, you will then have to deal with the crossbench, and they might not back some key changes. Your thoughts on that?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Labor party since last year’s Budget has opposed about $30 billion worth of savings in the parliament including $5 billion of their own savings, savings which they themselves initiated and banked in their last Budget.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I will provide an update on some of these numbers a bit later today, but the question today is a question for Bill Shorten. How will you pay for your new spending? How will you pay for not proceeding with the savings measures that you continue to oppose? Is your only plan to tax the retirement savings of people across Australia? Is your only plan to increase taxes on people saving for their retirement? Or do you have your own savings? The nation will be watching tonight.
JOURNALIST: What’s your plan B if the Family Tax Benefit Part B changes aren’t put through by the Senate for funding the childcare package?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Government has put forward a fair, responsible and very measured Budget. We’ve put forward a holistic families package. We’ve put forward a package which will help families get better access to simpler, more affordable, more flexible childcare as part of a jobs for families package. We are focused on helping families get into work, stay in work and be in work. What we are saying to the Labor party, what we are saying to every party represented in the Senate, work with us, because we believe that there is an additional investment required. But the only way we can invest more in better, more affordable, more flexible childcare is if we can identify the savings to pay for it. That is our approach and that is our commitment.
JOURNALIST: It’s looking very under threat given that it is one of the centrepieces of the Budget. How are you going to fund it if the Senate crossbenchers don’t put the Family Tax Benefit changes through?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I know that you would like me to go into hypotheticals, but just to go back to what this is all about. Today is about Bill Shorten explaining to the Australian people how he is going to pay for not proceeding with certain savings measures that he continues to oppose. Today is not about the crossbench. Today is about the alternative government telling the Australian people how they would strengthen growth, how they would strengthen jobs creation and how they would put the Budget back into surplus. Unless Bill Shorten wants to tell us that his only plan is to increase taxes on people saving for their retirement, unless he wants to tell us his only plan is to start increasing the size of the deficit again, well then he needs to explain to us where the money is coming from.
Thank you very much.