Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
Date: Friday, 9 September 2016
TOM CONNELL: Joining me for more on this is the Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. Minister thanks for your time this morning. You heard the words from the Leader of the House there, Christopher Pyne. He’s saying I would ban union donations, company donations, foreign political donations as well. Is that something you would agree with?
MATHIAS CORMANN: What Christopher Pyne has said there and what Tony Abbott has said for that matter is entirely consistent with what the Prime Minister has said for some time. Christopher Pyne in that same interview also said though, that these issues needed to be calmly and carefully considered. The appropriate forum for that to take place in a non-partisan fashion is the cross party Parliamentary committee on electoral matters, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, which as a matter of course, after every election goes through a proper review of the conduct of that election and in that context is able to consider these issues carefully and appropriately.
TOM CONNELL: We’ve heard though of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer say they are happy for this to be looked at. Christopher Pyne said there I would ban company donations, union donations. Is that a sentiment that you agree with, the strength of that.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I do agree with the sentiment. I think you will find that the Prime Minister did much more than say that this ought to be looked at. He said that in his own view, that is his view. But he also thinks and Christopher Pyne thinks, all of us think that this is something that needs to be calmly and carefully considered. Because having a robust democracy, having a system in which political parties are able to finance the putting of political arguments in front of the community in the context of an election is an important part of the process in our democracy. Any changes have got to be pursued in a way that doesn’t put that at risk.
TOM CONNELL: Will that include as was considered when Tony Abbott was Opposition Leader a deal that meant there were going to be fewer donations, so tighter restrictions but more money from the taxpayer to replace that, to fund parties. Will that need to be looked at as well.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not going to get ahead of myself here. This is a matter, as all of us have said, that ought to be considered carefully and in a non-partisan, calm fashion, in a considered fashion by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters as part of their post election review. Let’s see what they recommend. Once these sorts of recommendations are received, the Government will appropriately consider them.
TOM CONNELL: Just briefly should that be on the table, the prospect of taxpayers tipping in a bit more money to top up the amount parties are getting?
MATHIAS CORMANN: That is not something that I am proposing that we should look at. But in the end, we will consider whatever the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, as a cross party, non-partisan committee will put forward as a recommendation.
TOM CONNELL: Okay. Now on Wednesday, it will be a year since Malcolm Turnbull top job. A question a few people have been asked in the last week, what are the big achievements of the Turnbull Government. What do you think they are?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have been able to deliver continued strong growth. If you look at the National Accounts that were released the other day, 3.3 per cent growth up from 3.1 per cent annual growth in March. We have continued to implement our national economic plan for jobs and growth. We have continued to roll out our defence industry plan. We have continued to pursue an ambitious export trade agenda. We have continued to pursue an ambitious infrastructure investment program. We have continued with the important task of Budget repair. Moving through the innovation agenda has had a significant boost under Malcolm Turnbull leadership. So across a wide range of areas, we have very much focussed on implementing our plan for stronger growth and more jobs. That is what we will continue to do moving forward.
TOM CONNELL: What’s happened new in the last year though in terms of job and growth, legislation or Budget repair legislation that has actually happened under Malcolm Turnbull?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The innovation and science agenda is a very significant one. The defence industry plan is a very significant one. That happened under Malcolm Turnbull. We continue and are continuing under Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership with the task of Budget repair. We have delivered a half yearly Budget update and a Budget. The Budget had in it a very significant plan for stronger growth and more jobs into the future with our ten year enterprise tax plan. With our personal income tax cuts. With a whole range of initiatives across the board to ensure that the Australian economy continues to grow strongly.
TOM CONNELL: But the problem is with the tax cuts, they are not through yet are they. They are just an idea at the moment.
MATHIAS CORMANN: No, it is way more than an idea. I think you will find that there is bipartisan support for the personal income tax cuts. They will be legislated very quickly. They are about to be implemented for Australians earning between $80,000 and $87,000 which means they will remain in a lower tax bracket than they otherwise would be, which is an important part of our incentives for people to work more, save more and invest more.
TOM CONNELL: Okay, we have got Parliament coming back next week. The Omnibus Bill, Labor is making some noises in particular about perhaps not going ahead with supporting the cut to the clean energy supplement. What is the plan B?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Omnibus Savings Bill is a Bill with all of those savings that received bipartisan support in the course of the election campaign. The reason we have put it forward is because these 24 measures in this piece of legislation were banked by Labor in their pre-election costings. They were part of our Budget bottom line of course. So we will be pursuing that piece of legislation when Parliament goes back next week.
TOM CONNELL: But realistically, putting them all together was a political exercise. You still have all these individual measures so if they block one measure, presumably you will agree to split them up and get through what you can?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is not a political exercise at all. This is the bottom line of what the Labor party and the Coalition agreed on in the course of the election campaign. This is a piece of legislation where there should not really have to be any debate. This is something that both of us, the Labor Party and the Liberal National Party Coalition promised we would do when we went to the election. As we have said for some time now, we expect Bill Shorten to deliver on his word.
TOM CONNELL: We will see where it goes, just finally superannuation. This was in the Budget four months ago. Is it finally going to get to the party room next week?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I don’t discuss what is discussed in the party room. Our reform of superannuation tax concessions is a very substantial reform package. It is designed to make the system fairer, more sustainable and fit for purpose. Most of the changes don’t come into effect until 1 July 2017... interrupted
TOM CONNELL: Right, just before, we are just about out of time Minister. What I meant is not what is going to happen in the party room, but will it get there because it is four months and we still do not know what it is going to look like.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Most of these changes actually don’t come into effect until 1 July 2017, so we have got time to go through a proper process. We said before the election that there would be consultation after the election. That consultation has been taking place and when the Treasurer and the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services are ready to take this to the next step they will do so.
TOM CONNELL: So it is still some weeks off?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not going to speculate on the timetable. We are going through a proper and orderly process. When they are ready to press the button on the next stage, I am sure they will do so.
TOM CONNELL: Okay. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann thank you for your time this morning on Sky News.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you.