Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
KIERAN GILBERT: Back to Federal politics now and Mathias Cormann, the Finance Minister joins me from Perth. Minister thanks very much for your time. Reports this morning that the Prime Minister is coming up with a compromise, a forum of MPs to negotiate the way through your Parliamentary procedures for your superannuation changes. Can you talk us through any of the detail of that?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I have read that report in The Australian this morning. What is described there is our usual party process. We took a policy to the election. We won the election. We received a mandate to implement our national economic plan for jobs and growth, including our plan to make our superannuation system fairer and more sustainable. Now the Government will be presenting that plan into the Parliament. That will trigger a series of processes, including through the party. As we have indicated during the election campaign, there will be a consultation process in relation to administrative implementation issues and the like. That is what was always going to happen. That indeed will happen as we get into this 45th Parliament.
KIERAN GILBERT: Cory Bernardi wants you to go further. Your Senate counterpart wants a Senate committee into the proposal.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Again, that is business as usual. Any proposal of this nature, any piece of legislation of this nature would always go to a Senate committee for inquiry, for public review. I would expect that to happen on this occasion. In all the time that I have been in the Senate, any piece of legislation of this sort of nature would always go to a Senate inquiry. I am absolutely confident that that will happen on this occasion.
KIERAN GILBERT: Now what about the suggestion from your some of your counterparts, Eric Abetz, Senator Back of WA who have suggested that the superannuation changes caused a voter backlash in the Liberal party heartland, particularly from otherwise potential donors?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Senator Back and I are both Senators for the great state of Western Australia. If you look at the result here in Western Australia, not widely reported, but the Liberal party in Western Australia actually had a swing of nearly five per cent towards us in our primary vote in the Senate, which we are very pleased about. This election was hard fought. It was a close election, as Federal elections inevitably are. We put forward our plan. We put forward our agenda. We made a series of commitments on what we would do should we be successful. We won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives. 77 seats for the Liberal-National party Coalition, most likely with 69 seats for the Labor party. We won significantly more primary votes than the Labor party. We are winning more than the Labor party when it comes to the two party preferred vote. Not only do we have a mandate, we have a responsibility now to get to work to implement the plan that we put to the Australian people in the course of the election campaign.
KIERAN GILBERT: Isn’t it true in some of the blue ribbon, safest Liberal seats as well you had swings to you, which would also vindicate your point about the WA swing in the Senate. But in the safer seats like Kooyong or Cook in Sydney, or Bradfield in Sydney, there were swings to the Liberals.
MATHIAS CORMANN: And indeed, in the seat of the hard working member for Curtin, the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, we had a swing towards us as well. This is a significant reform. The reform to superannuation is a significant reform. It is designed to make the system fairer and more sustainable. It is designed to ensure that tax concessions available in the superannuation system are fit for purpose, are actually helping to achieve the original intent, which is to help people save to generate an income in retirement to replace or supplement the age pension. These tax concessions were never designed to help facilitate tax effective wealth accumulation or intergenerational wealth transfer. What has been happening is that more and more income generated in Australia was entirely outside the income tax system, attracting zero per cent income tax. That is just not structurally sustainable and will need to be addressed.
KIERAN GILBERT: Okay, two other questions just to finish. One in relation to Eric Abetz. Yesterday, he described it, it says it is barely a win. If you could call it a victory. Words to that effect. What do you say in response to colleagues who are playing down the mandate essentially.
MATHIAS CORMANN: It clearly is a victory. The objective when you go into an election is to win a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, so you can form government. We will have won 77 seats, when the final vote is counted. The Labor party has won just 69 seats. We have won a significantly higher primary vote, about 800,000 more primary votes than the Labor party. Of course we have won this election. Would we have preferred to have an even better result? Of course. But we now have the responsibility to form government. We have the responsibility to provide good government for Australia. That is what the Turnbull Government will do.
KIERAN GILBERT: Okay. My last question, the report that Malcolm Turnbull had chipped in $1 million of his own money, from his own pocket to the Liberal campaign, which was running short of cash in the second half of the campaign. What do you say to that? Is that normal procedure?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Again, I have read that report. I am not sure whether the report is accurate. There is a process of disclosure when it comes to personal donations for a political party. In the ordinary course of events these sorts of things will be reported, if indeed that has actually happened.
KIERAN GILBERT: So but, you know $1 million, that is not small change is it?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Again, I am not aware whether the report is accurate. But there is a process of disclosure that is enshrined in our legislation. That process applies to everyone.
KIERAN GILBERT: Minister, thanks for your time. We’ll talk to you soon.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good to talk to you.