Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
QUESTION: Minister, keen to get your thoughts this morning on the poll on the GST and some support for it, but majority against?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Australian Government right now is involved in a conversation with the States and with the community at large about how our tax system can be improved. Our focus is on making our tax system more growth friendly, because what we’re focused on is stronger growth and more jobs. There is still a way to go. There is still a way to go with the conversation. Sometime between now and the next election we will be releasing our tax reform plan for a second term. At that point in time, we’ll set out to persuade the majority of people across Australia that our way is the way forward.
QUESTION: Even without any attempt of persuasion, I think about 37 per cent are supporting or open minded to an increase, does that make you think that perhaps this mightn’t be as hard as some are saying?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Our focus is on improving our tax mix. Our focus is on making our tax system more growth friendly without increasing the overall tax burden. So there are some elements of a future package that are yet to be fleshed out. The Government is yet to decide on how best to move forward in order to make our tax system as growth friendly as possible. Once all of these decisions have been made, we will further pursue the conversation with the Australian people. We are hopeful that the majority of Australians will give us their confidence in implementing such reform after the next election.
QUESTION: Considering the number of people currently against the GST with this Newspoll, are you confident the Government can win the next election if GST is part of the tax reform?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Our focus is on strengthening growth, creating more jobs, creating better opportunity for people across Australia to get ahead. We want to ensure our tax system is as growth friendly as possible, that it encourages people to work, save and invest. Our plan is to win the next election so that we can deliver on our commitments to the Australian people to strengthen growth, create more jobs and get the Budget back into balance as soon as possible.
QUESTION: What do you make of Mike Baird’s comments? I presume that’s promising for the Federal Government, that a Premier is coming out and pushing so much in favour of changes to the GST?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We’ve been involved in a good faith conversation with State and Territory Governments for a little while now. We welcome the fact that New South Wales Mike Baird and South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill have engaged with us constructively. That is in particular the approach by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill is in sharp contrast with the negative and destructive approach taken by Federal Labor under Bill Shorten. We will continue to engage with State and Territory Governments. Sometime between now and the next election we will be making relevant announcements.
QUESTION: What about the specifics of Mike Baird’s latest idea on the increase and the mix of what to do with it? The split up in different years?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We continue to engage in the conversation with State and Territory Governments. We welcome the fact that New South Wales Premier Mike Baird is engaging constructively in the conversation. The Federal Government’s focus is on how we can improve our tax mix to make our tax system more growth friendly, so that we can strengthen growth, create more opportunities for people to get ahead. This is just one part of a broader plan to strengthen growth. It builds on all of things we have done over the last two and a half years.
QUESTION: Would it be fair to say the timing of this, you need to start the argument soon if you’re going to have it. You’ve got to shift a lot of people’s minds on this.
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have been engaged in a conversation about how our tax system can be improved for a little while now. Since we came into Government, we have focused right from the word go on making our tax system more growth friendly. That is why we got rid of the mining tax. That is why we scrapped the carbon tax. That is why we delivered company tax cuts for small business. That is why we made various other improvements to our tax system. What we have always said is that a more comprehensive medium to long term tax reform agenda would be put to the Australian people in the lead up to the next election. We are currently in the process of working our way through that.
QUESTION: Thanks Minister.