Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
TOM CONNELL: Well for more on this I am joined live in the studio by Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. Mathias Cormann I know you are a Senator, but some of your senior colleagues from the House should they simply have not left during this final adjournment debate last night.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Labor pulled a stunt on a routine procedural vote to adjourn the House at 5pm on a Thursday. The truth is we should expect Labor to try and pull stunts. Clearly what happened shouldn't have happened. People should not have left. People should not have missed a division. I think you will find that those colleagues who missed these divisions are feeling very bad and embarrassed today. They have all learned a very valuable lesson. I don’t think that this will happen again to any of them, in fact I don’t think it will happen again in this Parliament.
TOM CONNELL: So you called it a Labor stunt, but they are entitled to do this aren’t they?
MATHIAS CORMANN: As I say, you should expect Labor to pull stunts. You should expect Labor to test, in particular in the first week of Parliament, to test the Government. There is absolutely no excuse for it. It should not have happened. I am very confident it won’t happen again.
TOM CONNELL: Whose fault is it?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is not a matter of pointing the finger now. The truth is it should not have happened. People should not have left the Parliament until the Parliament was adjourned. But ... interrupted
TOM CONNELL: But when you say that, whips, the Leader of the House, individuals.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Again it is not for me now to point the finger. The truth is and there are very senior colleagues who were not in the House, they are all feeling very bad today. The truth is, until the House of Representatives is adjourned, until the Senate is adjourned and unless you have got firm paring arrangements, you don’t leave. We all know that. It is a very firm rule. This is a Parliament that is quite tight. After coming back from an election, the intensity is high. We need to be on our guard at all times. I think that lesson was well and truly learned last night.
TOM CONNELL: Okay, in terms of it not happening again, I want to play you something that Anthony Albanese has told Sky News this morning. To do with pairings and summit season. Have a listen to Anthony Albanese first of all.
ANTHONY ALABANESE [EXCERPT]: We will act responsibly, unlike what the other mob did, where you had Michelle Rowland who had a sick child, where you had Malcolm Turnbull denied along with Simon Crean a pair to go to Margaret Olley’s funeral even though it would have no impact on the Parliament... interrupted
TOM CONNELL [EXCERPT]: Just to clarify though is acting responsibly letting the Prime Minister attend major international meetings overseas.
ANTHONY ALBANESE [EXCERPT]: We will act responsibly.
TOM CONNELL [EXCERPT]: So that’s a yes to that.
ANTHONY ALBANESE [EXCERPT]: We will act responsibly.
TOM CONNELL [EXCERPT]: The G20?
ANTHONY ALBANESE [EXCERPT]: I am not answering specifically because that is not my job.
TOM CONNELL: Not quite answering but saying that Labor will act responsibly. Would you expect a pairing for any summit, for some summits? Just for the PM?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am in the Senate. The Senate has long established pairing arrangements, which are very sensible. That is a long standing bipartisan, in fact cross party arrangement. In the House of Representatives, the Labor party has so far showed that they are not all that sensible. They certainly have not given much of an indication that they are responsible. In fact they are more interested in stunts than in conducting themselves responsibly, but let’s see how it plays out. Clearly Anthony Albanese wasn’t prepared to commit himself to being genuinely responsible, so let’s see how it plays out.
TOM CONNELL: Okay on the issue itself, we have got the Prime Minister hinting there might be compensation for dodgy financial advice. There is the annual CEO grilling of the big four banks. A tribunal to be set up as well we are hearing. An inquiry by the Small Business Ombudsman by Kate Carnell. This was after during the election you said everything is fine with the banking system. You have gone a long way haven’t you?
MATHIAS CORMANN: You are completely verballing what we said during the election. What we said during the election is that what is important is that we take action to actually make a difference for people who have genuine legitimate grievances. The point that we made again and again and continue to make is that a Royal Commission which is just a long inquiry that doesn’t actually achieve any resolution for anyone in terms of any specific grievances and comes on top of several previous enquiries through the Senate, the Financial Systems Inquiry and so on will not actually help anyone. We have provided additional resources and additional powers to ASIC. We are focused on how we can improve current dispute resolution procedures, to ensure that those customers with genuine grievances can actually get resolution efficiently and in an affordable way.
TOM CONNELL: I wanted to touch briefly on Sam Dastyari. If any of your colleagues are talking aim at him. What about more broadly the issues, because we are taking about $1600.00 for him. $5.5 million from Chinese donors to both major parties over the last few years, isn’t that the real issue?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There is a world of difference between campaign donations in a regulated campaign donations framework. All political parties receive donations to help fund the operations of their campaigns. Through the Electoral Commission that has got to be properly disclosed ... interrupted
TOM CONNELL: But Sam Dastyari’s was disclosed as well.
MATHIAS CORMANN: The problem with Sam Dastyari is that it was not a campaign donation. It was payment of a personal debt. In the context of the payment of that personal debt, it appears that he took a policy position on a sensitive foreign policy and national security matter, quite different to the official position of the Labor party, which he hasn’t properly explained to date. He hasn’t explained why he took a different position to the Labor party position when it comes to matter in the South China Sea, where Australia’s bipartisan position is that these matters ought to be dealt with in accordance with international law.
TOM CONNELL: Okay Mathias Cormann, we are out of time this morning. Thanks for your time this morning on Sky News.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you.