Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
DEB KNIGHT: Well it has been a phoney campaign for months now but the Prime Minister will today, we know, visit the Governor-General officially pulling the starter's gun on one of the longest election campaigns in Australian history. Whoo! We will head to the polls to vote in a rare double dissolution election in eight weeks, on July 2. The political ads, the door-knocking and the wooing of voters is set to kick off in earnest from tonight. So, who will claim the top job. Labor's Anthony Albanese joins us here in the studio along with the Government's Mathias Cormann. Good morning to you both. Good morning.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
DEB KNIGHT: I hope that you have got your priorities right. Both of you and spoiled the mums in your life before coming on here and talking politics. Are you in trouble Albo, with your wife for coming here.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It probably wasn't a terrific decision to come here on Mother's Day. This is not the first time. I must say, when I appeared on another program ... interrupted
DEB KNIGHT: Yes, don't mention it.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: ... another program, which I won't mention, one Mother's Day they sent flowers to my wife.
DEB KNIGHT: Okay, so we will get on to that.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: So just hint, hint there.
DEB KNIGHT: Mathias have you done something special. Please say yes?
MATHIAS CORMANN: My best wishes for Mother’s Day for my wife in Geraldton on the other side of the country.
DEB KNIGHT: Very good. Very good.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Happy Mother's Day to you Deb.
DEB KNIGHT: Thank you very much. I will take it and run with it.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Three times.
DEB KNIGHT: I know it is like a punishment. Now the policy announcements we know are going to come thick and fast as of this afternoon once the election is officially underway. Labor is going to talking paid parental leave. What are you revealing today.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Today we are revealing that we will reverse the cuts made. Paid parental leave before the last election was supposed to be bipartisan. Everyone supporting it, but the Government brought in a change which meant that a cut effectively to 80,000 parents of some $11,800 as a result of those cuts. That makes a huge difference. Paid parental leave, of course, was already in a number of awards as a result of negotiations that takes place. So people have given up other things to get paid parental leave in the award system as part of their salary package. And of course the Government attempted to take away the fact that that would remain. People could still get the Government-based scheme, which is a very modest scheme but one that has made a big difference to working parents.
DEB KNIGHT: Okay, what taxes are you going to raise, what spending will you cut to pay for it.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: We on Thursday announced $71 billion on additional savings on top of the savings we have already announced. This has always been our position ...interrupted
DEB KNIGHT: So no new taxes required to pay for this one.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, absolutely not. We are committed to paid parental leave. We are very proud of the fact that we did it in government. It is part of our legacy. It is part of Labor's reform agenda and we think particularly the fact that the cuts were announced last Mother's Day was particularly mean spirited, frankly. This Mother's Day we are helping out mums and dads.
DEB KNIGHT: Okay. Mathias that is a point. Because a year on a big difference. We know Joe Hockey announced on this show she called this double- dipping. It was even alluded to as fraud. We know the Government softens the stance on this but why wind it back at all seems like a good policy. $11.5 million seems to be a good way to helping working families.
MATHIAS CORMANN: We want all women, all working women across Australia to have access to paid parental leave on the same terms. There is only a small number of women who have access to a second scheme. I have to make a couple of points here though. Labor did not announce $71 billion worth of savings. They announced $65 billion worth of higher taxes over the next decade. Right now, over the current forward estimates period, Labor has a $65 billion Budget black hole. That is $65 billion worth of unfunded spending promises, which will lead to higher taxes, which will hurt jobs and growth. The Government's plan which we delivered on Tuesday is a plan for jobs and growth, which is a plan for mums and dads, which is a plan for all families across Australia, to give them the best possible opportunity to get ahead.
DEB KNIGHT: We are just seeing pictures coming through to the newsroom, too, of Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull leaving their home in Sydney in Point Piper preparing for the big day of course. The election trigger will officially be pulled later this afternoon when the Turnbulls head to Canberra and the Prime Minister visits the Governor- General at Yarralumla to officially call the election. Those shots through coming from our newsroom. The issue though Mathias, of helping families is one that Labor is really criticising the Government on. Why delay fixing childcare until after 2018? It really is a big issue for families and the impression is given that the Government is more helping big business than families.
MATHIAS CORMANN: That is not right. We want to help families. What families across Australia are looking for is job security. They are looking for a continuing successful transition of our economy to ensure their jobs are secure. We do want to ... interrupted
DEB KNIGHT: But childcare is a big point.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Indeed, it is an important point. We do want to help families get better, more flexible, more affordable access to childcare ...interrupted
DEB KNIGHT: Why wait until 2018.
MATHIAS CORMANN: ... because we need to ensure we can pay for it. Because the worst thing we can do for families across Australia is to pay for our promises with more debt and higher taxes. Because more debt and higher taxes will hurt jobs and growth. We are committed to ensuring that people across Australia, that families across Australia, have the best possible opportunity to get ahead. In order to ensure that happens, right at this time, when we are continuing to face some global economic headwinds, we need to ensure that we implement our plan for jobs and growth. That we continue to transition our economy to a more diversified stronger economy of the future.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well I give Mathias credit for sticking to the script and the three-word slogan there over and over again.
DEB KNIGHT: Jobs and growth.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: You picked it up. Well done Deb. We’ve got the message, Mathias.
DEB KNIGHT: Into it is an important message to make though.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: But it is about priorities. It is about priorities.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Jobs and growth is our priority indeed.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: You have got another one in Mathias. But it is relentless. There is nothing behind it. The fact is, the fact is the Budget ... interrupted
MATHIAS CORMANN: There is a whole plan behind it.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I let you go Mathias. Budget is about priorities. Our priority is assisting parents through paid parental leave, is assisting parents through childcare, is assisting young people through education through the Gonski reforms, is supporting health care. That's our priority. Their priority is the top end of town. Their priority is helping out, they speak about fiscal responsibility. They have doubled the deficit. They have increased debt.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Not true.
ANTHONY ALABANESE: They have increased Government spending as a proportion.
DEB KNIGHT: We have eight weeks of this.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it is a fact that they have doubled the deficit.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Not true.
DEB KNIGHT: Alright listen, before we go, I know it is a bit of fun, but still Christopher Pyne alluded to the fact one of his male colleagues might have been using Botox. I notice you both have got fairly strong brows. Any hints on who it might be.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I'm not prepared to comment.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Not me. I would not have a clue.
DEB KNIGHT: I can't see an expression changing. It may well be either of you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I'm very flattered that you think it might be me. I'm very flattered. I wish.
DEB KNIGHT: It’s Albo. It’s Albo. Gentleman, happy Election Day to you. I’m glad that mothers are put first but it will be an interesting campaign. We look forward to it.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Thank you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Unfortunately we have got a soccer game at lunch time today for my son, so we’ll do that. So it’s a Mother’s Day dinner. So they better call the election. Because if they don’t Parliament is supposed to be sitting tomorrow.
DEB KNIGHT: They will. They will. Good on you. Thanks so much guys.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.