Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
TOM CONNELL: Live now to Perth and we are talking to the Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann. Of course, ahead of Parliament, the 45th Parliament convening for the first time next week. Minster, thanks for your time this morning on Sky News.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good to be here.
TOM CONNELL: I will start if I can with what is happening in your state. WA leadership, Colin Barnett had this poll that was done by, apparently a private businessman that shows that ten out of eleven seats polled would mean they would lose these seats, the Liberal party if he stays on as leader. This seems to be a long running destabilisation process against Colin Barnett.
MATHIAS CORMANN: The leadership of the WA Liberal party is obviously a matter for the State Parliamentary Liberal party here in Western Australia. What I would say though as a citizen of this great State is that, in my mind, Colin Barnett clearly remains by far the best person in the Parliament to lead our State. This government has been in place now for about eight years. They have been doing a very good job. They are now approaching the next election in March. It is going to be very important to put forward a very strong plan for the next four years to be successful in March.
TOM CONNELL: Is that a message then for Dean Nalder, the Transport Minister. He hasn’t been overwhelming in his support and reports that he could have had something to do with this polling.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not going to give public advice to colleagues except to say that there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Colin Barnett is the best by far in the State Parliament to continue to lead our state.
TOM CONNELL: Okay, well back in your area then, a key speech by Scott Morrison the Treasurer yesterday. He spoke about the reasons for deficits in your time in Government, in the Coalition’s time, essentially down to revenue below expected revenue. He called it an earnings problem. It sounded a lot like an echo of Wayne Swan and his late years as Treasurer.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I think there has been a bit of misinterpretation there. The point that Scott has made is that if you want to earn more you need to strengthen economic growth. The Labor prescription of increasing the tax burden in the economy would actually damage economic growth, damage investment, damage growth and as such would not help us to improve our earnings. We inherited a very bad spending growth trajectory from Labor. The spending growth trajectory we inherited from Labor was unsustainable and unaffordable. We have made some progress in putting that on a more sustainable spending growth trajectory for the future, but there is some more work to do. The Treasurer made ... interrupted
TOM CONNELL: But it was very, sorry Minister, it was very clearly said that this was always said there was a spending issue not a revenue problem. That was spelled out so clearly by Scott Morrison, by Joe Hockey, now they are saying well we need to earn more money. That is still revenue however you do it.
MATHIAS CORMANN: We actually have said this consistently all the way through. Remember I have been here for the whole three year period. Yes, we inherited a serious spending problem from the previous government, which put our spending growth trajectory on an unsustainable trajectory, which was not affordable from the economy, out of the economy. But we also always said that clearly, falls in our terms of trade, significant falls in the global prices we were able to achieve from key commodity exports like iron ore, which was going to happen irrespective of who was the government, clearly had an impact on our revenue, clearly had an impact throughout the economy. Our economy continues to grow comparatively strongly at 3.1 per cent. Stronger than when we came into Government. Stronger than any of the G7 economies. But if we want to achieve stronger revenue flows, the right way to achieve it is by putting in place the policy settings that strengthen growth, that strengthen investment and strengthen job creation. That is what we have said all the way through the election campaign. That is the plan that we intend to continue to implement in this term, our national economic plan for jobs and growth. It will seek to increase prosperity as well as increase revenue flows for Government. It always has been part of the plan.
TOM CONNELL: Okay. Just one other issue, because Labor is really tough on its language it seems on the same sex marriage plebiscite, indicating it might not give its support to have that mechanism passed through Parliament. If this doesn't get up, is this the end of same sex marriage in this term? Would the Government consider any other course of action?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Our commitment to the Australian people was very clear, it was explicit, in black and white. We will put this issue to a vote by the Australian people. We will give the Australian people the opportunity to pass judgement on this issue, to resolve it once and for all. This has come before the Australian Parliament on a number of occasions now. The Australian Parliament on each occasion has reconfirmed the current definition of marriage. We went to the election with a very clear commitment. We will be putting that to the Parliament. We would be saying to the Parliament that this is something that needs to be done.
TOM CONNELL: So very briefly then, there is no other avenue then if this doesn't succeed in the Parliament? It won't be pursued in any other way in this Parliament.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Our commitment to the Australian people is what we will deliver on.
TOM CONNELL: Okay. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann we are out of time, but thank you for your time this morning on Sky News.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you.