Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
JOURNALIST: Minister obviously more headlines, more talk of Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull and their relationship. Is this frustrating as someone who’s trying to drive the economic message of the Government?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Government is totally focused on doing everything we can to strengthen growth and create more jobs. We’re getting on with it. We’re getting on with the important task of providing good Government.
JOURNALIST: Is it possible that because there hasn’t been that policy announcement yet, this is just filling a void? This story just filling a void that could be replaced by economic policy?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have had a lot of policy announcements, a lot of significant policy announcements. We had the release of the innovation statement before Christmas, we’ve had the release of the Defence White Paper, we had the release of media reform, something that has been in the too hard basket for a very long time. We have of course had the very significant announcement by the Government about our plans to reform Senate voting arrangements, which has occupied a bit of our time. So we are getting on with the job of providing good government, making judgements in the public interest, putting Australia on a stronger foundation for the future. Between now and the Budget, there will be further announcements and the Budget will be delivered on the second Tuesday in May.
JOURNALIST: You just mentioned a hangover of the old leadership team, how do you expect this hangover to stick around for and is there a cure?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I don’t get distracted by these matters. My focus every single day as a member of the economic team is on strengthening growth, creating more jobs, creating better opportunities for people to get ahead. That is what the Australian people expect us to do. That is what I’m doing.
JOURNALIST: The last question is on the investigation that’s going on. What should’ve Tony Abbott done, given that he’s been hinted towards, a secret document, a Cabinet in Confidence document that’s been leaked to a journalist. What should’ve his course of action been? He chose to comment. In the right course of events, what should he have done?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I’m not going to provide a running commentary on this. There is an assessment underway by the AFP in terms of how that particular document has been leaked. Tony Abbott was very clear, he’s not the source of the leak and I totally accept that. Whoever was the source of the leak committed an incredibly reckless and deplorable act, putting at risk our national security. That is something that is very serious and that is why it is appropriate that the AFP is doing its assessment.
JOURNALIST: You said that you accept Tony Abbott’s statement that he didn’t leak, but what should he have done once he heard about, and was alerted to the leak, before the Government was?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I’m not going to provide a running commentary on these matters.
JOURNALIST: In terms of the negative gearing debate, do you think you’ve had a good week with this one and winning that battle in the public?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Australian people should be very concerned about what Labor has in store with its so called negative gearing policy. The report that came out this week by BIS Shrapnel, which actually underestimates the negative impact of Labor’s policy in the community, shows that Labor’s policy would drive down property prices for established properties, it would drive up the cost of rental accommodation. It will have a bad effect in the economy and for families around Australia.
JOURNALIST: The Greens say there’ is no chance that the ABCC getting voted on twice before the end of the Senate sitting period next week. Is that a possibility still?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The ABCC legislation, the legislation to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission, remains a very high priority for the Government. But the next sitting week, the final sitting week before Easter is a short week, two and a half days, a public holiday on the Monday. Senate voting reform is our number one priority that week and our expectation, given the incredible Labor filibuster this week, our expectation is that the Senate reform legislation will take up all of the usually available time and more, when it comes to dealing with Government business. As such, we expect to get back to the ABCC legislation after Easter.
JOURNALIST: Is the Government considering bringing a new sitting week in between Easter and the Budget to talk about the ABCC and possibly release its tax policy?
MATHIAS CORMANN: That is not something that is on the agenda as we speak, but it’s not a matter for me to speculate on.
JOURNALIST: Does that concede then that a double dissolution on the ABCC is now off the table?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I’ll leave analysts and commentators to speculate about these things. I’m just focused on getting on with the job of providing good government.