Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
JOURNALIST: Minister is there a case to apply the GST to financial services?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Look the Government right now is involved in a public conversation about how our tax system can be improved. That conversation is currently underway. Our focus is on pursuing tax reform which will help strengthen the economy, by encouraging people to work more, save more and invest more. The best way to increase revenue for Government is by strengthening economic growth, because in the end not only will that lift living standards for people across Australia, it will also help increase revenue for Government by delivering a growth dividend for Government.
JOURNALIST: Do you see that proposal as something that could cut the company tax rate?
MATHIAS CORMANN: At the moment we are keeping an open mind. We are engaged in good faith in a conversation with the states and territories. We are involved in good faith in a public consultation. Obviously we are assessing all of the various proposals on the table and over the next few weeks and months we will be making decisions. There will be a Green Paper out early in the new year on which there will be further public consultation before we finalise our tax reform agenda for the next election. In the end our objective is to ensure we have the best possible tax system, a tax system that will help us improve productivity, which will help us improve competitiveness, which will help us improve economic growth moving forward. That is our focus and that is the benchmark against which we are testing all of the proposals being put forward.
JOURNALIST: Minister reports of rioting on Christmas Island overnight. Is that concerning for the Government?
MATHIAS CORMANN: These are entirely matters for Peter Dutton to address and I’m sure that he will address them as appropriate later today.
JOURNALIST: But there are reports of fires and fighting and the guards leaving their posts there. As a member of the Federal Cabinet, surely that can’t be a good thing?
MATHIAS CORMANN: And the appropriate Minister to deal with these issues is Peter Dutton and I’m sure he will do so later today.
JOURNALIST: How concerned are you by reports that China and Russia have been trying to spy on the plans for Australia’s next submarine fleet?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Again, there are other Ministers in the Government that are best equipped to deal with these matters and I will leave it to them. If there are no more questions in relation to tax reform I’m happy to leave it there.
JOURNALIST: Senator Birmingham said that the reports about the submarines were very concerning and that they would be thoroughly investigated. Is that right?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Again, there are Ministers such as the Attorney General, the Foreign Minister, obviously the Prime Minister that will have something to say about these matters as appropriate later today. Thank you.