Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good morning. Good to be back. A lot of work to be done. We got a lot of work done in the first six months after the election. Over the next few months, with our business tax cuts, with our plans to provide better access to high quality childcare for families around Australia, there is a lot of work to be done. I am looking forward to getting stuck into it.
QUESTION: Is it disappointing that the Government’s message is being overshadowed by Cory Bernardi’s exit from the Liberal party?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is always disappointing when the Government’s message gets overshadowed. We give a lot of thought to how we can best put Australia in a stronger position for the future, how we can strengthen growth, how we can ensure that Australia is as safe and as secure as possible. Anything that distracts from our message is disappointing.
QUESTION: Can you confirm if Cory Bernardi spoke with the Prime Minister this morning to outline his intentions?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I cannot confirm that, no.
QUESTION: Did you make an effort, or speak to Mr Bernardi over the past few days?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to Cory in relation to these matters yesterday. We, as it happened, were in the gym at the same time, at six o’clock yesterday morning, but this issue did not come up.
QUESTION: He didn’t raise the prospect of him leaving the party with you.
MATHIAS CORMANN: No.
QUESTION: Are you disappointed that he didn’t use that opportunity to do so, to give you a bit of warning?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Cory is big and ugly enough to talk for himself. Cory and I, we have been very good friends and colleagues for about ten years. We have known each other well before either of us entered the Senate. My very strong preference is for Cory to remain as a strong and effective conservative voice inside the Liberal Party party room. It looks as if that is not going to be the case. That is disappointing, both at a personal level and from the party’s point of view. But in the end, it is his decision. We have just got to get on with it.
QUESTION: How damaging is this for the Government to lose one of your own?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is never good. But we have a job to do. We went to the election just over seven months ago. We got a mandate from the Australian people to implement our plan for the economy, our plan for jobs and growth and our plan to ensure that Australia is safe and secure. We have a big to do list. We have just got to continue to get on with it, to provide good government and implement the commitments that we took to the last election.
QUESTION: So how do you get back on track from this?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have to focus on the job at hand. We had a big to do list for the first six months of the period after the election when we successfully restored the Australian Building and Construction Commission, when we successfully established the Registered Organisations Commission to ensure that the funds provided by union members are better protected. We were successful in passing personal income tax cuts for hard working families. We were successful in passing about $20 billion in additional Budget improvements. We were successful in making our superannuation system fairer and more sustainable for the future. If we had said in July that we would get all of that done by the end of last year, nobody would have believed us. We have still got a big agenda. We have still got a lot of things to achieve to ensure that our economy is as strong as it can be, to ensure our country is safe and secure. My very strong view is that we have just got to keep getting on with the job of implementing our agenda and providing good government for Australia.
QUESTION: And can I just confirm if you tried to contact Cory after you found out about his plans to leave?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I haven’t had an opportunity to talk to Cory yesterday about his plans. Cory and I, we have been friends and colleagues for a long time. He would have had his reasons to manage this the way he has.
QUESTION: How does the friendship survive? Does it survive after this?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am looking forward to listening to Cory’s explanation. Let’s take things from there.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Thank you.