Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
STEPHANIE BORYS: When it comes to the Omnibus Bill are you confident that it will be passed this week?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Successful passage of about $6 billion worth of savings is one of the key priorities for the Government this week. The savings reflected in the Omnibus Savings Bill are savings that both Labor and the Coalition supported in the lead up to the last election. Both of us reflected them in our respective Budget bottom lines. That is why, as we said we would do, we have been engaging with the Opposition over the past few weeks in relation to the passage of this legislation. We are hopeful that we will be able to reach an outcome this week.
STEPHANIE BORYS: Have there been slight changes to the way that the legislation was put in in order to get this legislation passed?
MATHIAS CORMANN: As I have indicated to you, our focus this week is on banking about $6 billion worth of savings through the Parliament. That is what we have been talking to Labor about. We will be reporting to our party room today. As I understand it, Labor will be reporting to their caucus about the outcomes of our discussions. Let’s see what happens after that.
STEPHANIE BORYS: So, specifically the energy supplement, is the Government willing to negotiate on that element of it.
MATHIAS CORMANN: We took a whole series of savings to the last election. Labor took some savings to the last election. $6 billion worth of savings we both supported in the lead up to the last election. Our intention is to successfully secure about $6 billion worth of savings this week. In terms of the detail, we will be talking to our party room about that in the first instance. I would expect there to be relevant announcements, subject to the outcome of our respective party room meetings some time later today.
STEPHANIE BORYS: So reading between the lines there will be slight changes to the current legislation.
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have had discussions with Labor, as we said we would, in relation to about $6 billion worth of savings we both supported in the lead up to the last election. We will be providing a report to our party room today in relation to those discussions. Subject to the outcomes of that meeting we will have more to say about this later today.
STEPHANIE BORYS: Okay, this week as well, it is a year since Malcolm Turnbull took on the top job, the latest Newspoll doesn’t have the best results for the Coalition. Why do you think Malcolm Turnbull’s satisfaction rating is actually just below Bill Shorten’s now?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I will leave the political commentary to good journalists like yourself. We have got a job to do. We went to an election just over two months ago, where we took to the Australian people our plan for the economy, our plan for jobs and growth. The Government is getting on with the job of delivering on that plan. At the next election, we will be putting ourselves forward again and submit ourselves to the judgement of the Australian people.
STEPHANIE BORYS: Are you happy with the agreement that was reached last night in Cabinet when it comes to gay marriage and the plebiscite?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Cabinet has agreed on a methodology for a plebiscite. I believe that our backbench committee also last night ticked off on it. It is now a matter that is going to go before the party room. There is a process still to follow. From the Cabinet’s point of view, yes I am a member of the Cabinet, I support the decision that we have made.
STEPHANIE BORYS: Are you concerned that some of the backbenchers won’t be happy with the agreement that has been reached?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There is a methodology for the plebiscite that was endorsed by the Cabinet. It was endorsed by the backbench committee last night. It is now going to go to the party room. No doubt there will be a very good discussion in the party room about all of that. There will be an outcome after that meeting. Let’s wait and see until that happens.
STEPHANIE BORYS: And just quickly, as well with Bill Shorten’s comments yesterday about suicide and linking that to the plebiscite. Do you think his comments went too far?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I think that Bill Shorten’s conduct in relation to this issue has been generally unfortunate. We have much greater confidence in the Australian people. Clearly Bill Shorten doesn’t believe that the Australian people are capable of having a debate about an issue like marriage. Personally I just completely disagree with him on that. I think it is quite irresponsible the way he has been pursuing this argument.