Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
ROSS GREENWOOD: Welcome back to Money News. I can hardly imagine I’m telling you or reporting this to you. There seems to be an outbreak of sanity in Canberra. Don’t know what’s going on, but consider this, you’ve had the Pharmacy Guild legislation go through with the cooperation of the Labor party. All the small business changes they went through as well with the cooperation of the Labor party. The pension changes went through yesterday finally, with the cooperation of the Greens. Now you’ve had a fuel indexation go through, well both the Greens and Labor seemed to support. It was the Labor party that got the deal to get those regional roads actually built in the long term and fixed up as we just told you when we spoke to Richard Di Natale. And then tomorrow you’ve got this legislation coming in that will attempt to strip terrorists of their dual citizenship if that’s what they have. Indeed their Australian citizenship if they do have dual nationality. Let’s now go to a man who clearly would be sitting back and enjoying this very much. That’s the Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, who’s on the line. Many thanks Mathias for your time tonight.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good evening Ross.
ROSS GREENWOOD: Can you tell me, what’s caused this outbreak out of rationality in Canberra. It hasn’t been there for a long time.
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Government is just getting on with the job of implementing our plan for stronger growth, more jobs, to repair the Budget and to ensure Australia is safe and secure. When it comes to some of these measures that are going through the Senate this fortnight, we’ve been saying for a long time that they were needed to put Australia on a stronger foundation for the future. So we’re pleased that between Labor, the Greens and the crossbench we are able to get a large part of our agenda through.
ROSS GREENWOOD: Well the pharmacy guild you had to get a deal done by the end of the financial year because it was going to expire pretty much in five days time, so it was urgent to get that through wasn’t it?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It was indeed. We have been going through a very extensive process with all of the relevant stakeholders and we have been able to finalise a deal that is good for pharmacy, good for the community and it is good for the Budget. So we are happy with where we have ended up.
ROSS GREENWOOD: And stripping $23 billion out of motorists over the next decade with this indexation of the fuel excise is that going to make the motorists necessarily happy even though it’s gone ahead with the support of the Labor party?
MATHIAS CORMANN: What we are doing is making sure the value of the fuel excise doesn’t continue to fall. Back when John Howard in 2001 removed the regular indexation of the fuel excise, the value of the excise was at about 42 per cent as a share of the average price at the pump. It has fallen down to 25 per cent. Most expenditure is indexed at least by CPI. What we have said is that all of the additional revenue will be invested in additional road infrastructure. That will be done and that will help strengthen growth and opportunity into the future.
ROSS GREENWOOD: How close does this get you to all of the goals and the changes that you had, the targets that you had in the May Federal Budget?
MATHIAS CORMANN: One step at a time we continue to press ahead. In this sitting fortnight, we have been able to pass measures or we will pass measures in excess of $10 billion worth of Budget improvements. It all adds up and we continue to press ahead.
ROSS GREENWOOD: You have any big blockages still there?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There are still a few issues we still have to deal with, but we are doing it in an orderly and methodical fashion.
ROSS GREENWOOD: Just one final one for you, tomorrow legislation that would strip Australian citizenship from dual nationals who engage in terrorism, will that go through our parliament easily?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We never take anything for granted, but listening to what has been said in the debate, my perception is that it will go through with bipartisan support, but let’s see what happens.
ROSS GREENWOOD: I’ll tell you what, it is always good to have a chat to you. The Finance Minister Mathias Cormann great to have you on the program.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Talk soon.