Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
The Hon Bill Marmion MLA
WA Minister for Mines and Petroleum
BILL MARMION: It’s good to be here this afternoon with my colleague, Mathias Cormann from the Commonwealth, who has kindly funded $1.2 million towards a $5.1 million expansion of the Perth Core Library. The Perth Core Library is a facility not many people in Western Australia know about, but it plays a vital part in the exploration of minerals in Western Australia and also for the oil and gas industry, in fact the Commonwealth does pay to harbour two-thirds of the offshore cores in our library here. That is why they have actually kindly contributed $1.2 million to this expansion of this major facility for Western Australia. In fact the actual area is going to be increased by 3,500 square metres, which will double the capacity of this core facility in Western Australia. A vital part of our exploration scheme in Western Australia.
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is great to be here with my good friend and valued colleague Bill Marmion, the Minister for Mines and Petroleum. It is great to be associated with this project of national significance. This expansion of the core library will lead to increased discovery, will ensure that exploration activity in Western Australia will be better targeted, better focused, leading to cost reductions for industry. Over time, we are very confident that it will lead to increased exploration, increased production and increased growth and opportunity across the resources sector and the economy here in Western Australia. As I said, good to be here with my good friend and it is an exciting project to be associated with.
SIMON BENNISON (CEO AMEC): Thank you very much for the opportunity to come along and be part of the extension of the core facility. It is certainly an absolute bonus for the industry. The capacity that is provided by the core facility in storing drill core is vitally important to the industry. To be able to come and access information and the history of exploration within Western Australia, it is critically important for improving the geosciences capacity of the State. And certainly in fast tracking exploration programs and the ability for industry to identify targets and take those targets onto mines and obviously the revenue streams that flow from those into government. So very pleased to be here with both Ministers and for the industry to be a component of what is a critical part of the resources sector of this state. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: I just have some questions from Canberra. Exactly how much is a fistful of dollars? Can you sort of quantify that figure for us at all?
MATHIAS CORMANN: A fistful of dollars? What I can say to you is that as a country we are still working our way through Labor’s last spending binge. We can not afford another spending binge from the Labor party. What we have seen from Labor this week is another set of unfunded promises. What the Government is doing is, we are working in an orderly fashion through our plan, implementing our plan for stronger growth, more jobs and to ensure that the Budget gets back into balance as soon as possible.
QUESTION: But you can’t quantify what the Prime Minister would have meant when he said that this morning, in terms of a dollar figure?
MATHIAS CORMANN: You have got to ask me a more specific question.
QUESTION: Okay, are you confident you will deliver a surplus as Finance Minister?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Government has been working very hard to put the Budget on a stronger foundation for the future. The Budget position is on an improving trajectory over the forward estimates. The deficit is predicted to decrease each year of the forward estimates both in dollar terms and as a share of GDP. Spending as a share of GDP is projected to come down. Net debt is projected to peak in 2017/18 and then to come down. We are on track to get the Budget back into balance as soon as possible and we are continuing to work very hard on implementing our plan.
QUESTION: Can you quantify for us how much the Government will spend on a national redress scheme for victims of child sex abuse?
MATHIAS CORMANN: In the Budget at any one point in time we make decisions on what we prioritise our expenditure on. These sorts of specific announcements will be made by the responsible minister when that is appropriate.
QUESTION: So would we expect to see some money for that though in this coming Budget?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The next Budget will be delivered on the second Tuesday in May. Between now and then the Government will make a whole series of decisions as we always do about where we need to prioritise additional expenditure and where we need to reduce expenditure in comparatively lower priority areas in order to pay for it. Just to go back to what we have seen from the Labor party. As a country we are still digesting Labor’s last big spending binge. We are still working our way through dealing with Labor’s last big spending binge. Here Labor is at it again, making spending promises that are not funded. Labor right now has got a $50 billion Budget black hole. So whatever your assessment of the Budget position under our Government, under Labor right now the Budget position would be about $50 billion worse. Labor’s only plan to deal with it a little bit, is to just jack-up taxes. Our view is that we need to continue to focus on strengthening growth, creating more jobs, creating better opportunity for people to get ahead and to get the Budget back into balance in a sensible and orderly fashion. That is exactly what we are doing.
QUESTION: How will you fund those promises?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Which promises?
QUESTION: If you’re saying they are the key things at the moment, how will you find the money for that given the current position we are in?
MATHIAS CORMANN: All of our Budget commitments, all of our commitments are reflected in the Budget as policy measures. In the lead up to any Budget and Budget update, the discipline that we have imposed on ourselves and the fiscal discipline that we have complied with, is that wherever we need to make additional spending commitments because of higher priority areas that emerge, we offset those increases in expenditure by reductions in expenditure elsewhere. That’s what we did in the half-yearly Budget update just before Christmas. That is what we intend to do in the lead up to the Budget. As I’ve indicated the next Budget will be delivered on the second Tuesday in May.
QUESTION: Minister do you expect the Roe 8 contract stage one of Perth Freight Link to be awarded in this term of the Barnett Government?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Perth Freight Link project is a very important project for Western Australia. It is a very important project for Australia. It would help ensure that our products get to market in a more efficient, lower cost and safer way, by taking products from the industrial areas of Perth across our transport routes to Fremantle Port and deal with imports as well. It is a very important project for Western Australia. It is a very important project for Australia. We are very confident that the project will proceed. We are working very closely with the Barnett Government. Based on all of the interactions that we have had with the Barnett Government we are very confident that the Perth Freight Link project will proceed. We would like to see it proceed as soon as possible. We believe that people living in the affected areas deserve certainty about the way forward. We believe that the economy in Western Australia could benefit from the significant boost in construction work that would come with it at this particular time in our economic cycle. It’s a very important investment in economic insfrsastructure for our state and our country.
QUESTION: So you would be hopeful though that that contract for the stage one would be signed in this term of the Barnett Government?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I’m quite confident that that is what will happen.
QUESTION: The Premier of course has said that construction is unlikely to start in this term of Government but of course that doesn’t mean that the contract can’t be signed.
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is a very big project. It is a complex project. There are a whole range of issues that need to be worked through. We understand that. The Commonwealth so far has committed $925 million towards that project. We are working closely with the Barnett Government, with the Premier and with the Transport Minister Dean Nalder, to make sure it happens as quickly as possible.
QUESTION: So how would you rate your confidence in that contract being signed ahead of the next election March here, as in state election?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I’m quite confident that the State Government will ensure that contracts are signed as soon as possible.
QUESTION: Should Abbott be kept on the backbench?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The former prime minister has recently announced that he intends to recontest the next election. That is great. Any Member for Parliament that feels they still have a contribution to make should of course put their hand up. I look forward to the contribution that he will make moving forward.
QUESTION: Can I also just clarify as well around Roe 8, so you would be disappointed I suppose then if construction didn’t start before the next election?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I don’t believe that I will have cause for disappointment. I am confident that the State Government here in Western Australia, the same as the Federal Government is committed to ensure this project gets underway as soon as possible.
Thank you very much.