Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
QUESTION: Minister are you concerned that the latest Newspoll is again bad news for the Government?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We were elected to provide good government, to implement our plan for the economy and jobs less than eight months ago. We have a big to do list. We are just getting on with the job. The next election is more than two years away. I am not surprised that with the public discussions over the last three or four days, I am not surprised by people marking us down for that.
QUESTION: So do you think the reason for the polls going down is partly due to the internal fighting?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Clearly, the debates that were initiated on Thursday night don’t help. I think that it is very important that all of us in the Liberal National party Coalition focus on the job that we were elected to do. That is to provide good government and to ensure that Australia is on the strongest possible foundation for the future, that our economy is as strong and as prosperous as possible and that we are safe and secure. People want us to focus on them and the job that we were elected to do, not on ourselves.
QUESTION: Newspoll and a few other things appear to show that One Nation is getting away on the Government. You have got to be concerned about that.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not going to provide a running commentary on the polls, except to say that, clearly this is a bit of wake-up call for all of us in the Liberal National party. People want us to focus on them, on the job that we were elected to do. They don’t want us to engage in continuous internal debates through the media.
QUESTION: Have you spoken to Tony Abbott over the past few days?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Yes.
QUESTION: And how did that conversation go?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It was a private conversation. I am not going to go into the ins and outs of that.
MATHIAS CORMANN: It was a private conversation.
QUESTION: You blamed the Newspoll on internal conversations, ie Tony Abbott. Aren’t there other factors that could account for it, like the unpopularity of bagging renewable energy or not...
MATHIAS CORMANN: I think you are verballing me there. In relation to energy, it is very clearly in our national interest to ensure that families around Australia and businesses around Australia can have access to affordable, reliable, secure energy supplies in a way that helps us reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. There is no suggestion that we are bagging renewables. We are technology agnostic. What we are saying is that the pursuit of unrealistic fifty per cent renewable energy targets without a plan to ensure that energy supplies across Australia can be secure and affordable is crazy. It is crazy policy. You can see in South Australia what that has delivered. The Labor party in Western Australia was about to announce a fifty per cent renewable energy target, which would be even worse for a State like Western Australia because WA is an energy island. It needs to be energy self-sufficient. There would not be an interconnector to come and save Western Australia from blackouts, when the wind doesn't blow and there is too much reliance on wind energy, for example. That doesn't mean we are against renewables. We are not at all. Everyone is in favour of renewables. What it means is that we are in favour of a policy framework that ensures that families and businesses across Australia can have access to a reliable, affordable supply of energy. It is important in terms of putting downward pressure on the cost of living for families and it is important for business to be able to operate in an internationally competitive environment.
QUESTION: What is your response to the criticism over the decision on penalty rates?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Bill Shorten is a complete and utter hypocrite. The Fair Work Commission was set up as an independent body by the Labor party. The people that made the decision were appointed by the Labor party. Bill Shorten himself who asked the Fair Work commission to review penalty rates. It was Bill Shorten who asked the Fair Work Commission to review penalty rates. The reason we have a decision on penalty rates on Sundays is because Bill Shorten specifically amended legislation so that the Fair Work Commission had to do this job. Before the election, he said he would respect the decision of the independent decision of the independent umpire. He is clearly feeling the political heat from Anthony Albanese. He knows that the union movement is well aware that this penalty rates decision is a direct outcome of the actions of Bill Shorten. That is why he is hysterically jumping up and down. He knows that this decision is a direct consequence of his actions, as the Minister for employment and workplace relations in the Rudd and Gillard governments. I don't take him seriously at all.
QUESTION: But where do you go from here though because Labor obviously is still fighting to stop those changes to the Sunday penalty rates. Speaking to voters, people actually seem to blame the Government not the Fair Work Commission for the changes.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Labor is running a show trial. Labor is trying to fool people. Labor is trying to create the impression, Bill Shorten is trying to create the impression that he opposed a decision that he helped bring about. It is the Labor party who appointed the people who made the decision. It is the Labor party who set up the body. It is Bill Shorten himself who gave the Fair Work Commission the job to review penalty rates. Bill Shorten’s fingerprints are all over this penalty rates decision. He is now running scared of the retribution out of the union movement. He knows that they know it was his doing. He is now trying to create the false impression that he is actually against the outcome that he helped to bring about.
QUESTION: Can you confirm the existence within Government of a so-called group of deplorables, which may or may not be agitating to get Tony Abbott back into Cabinet. And is this a continuation of the monkey pod group?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Let me say, firstly I had never heard of this until this story appeared. But when I saw the names on the invite list, I thought it was more like a group that should be called the magnificent. They are a great bunch of people, very good, valued friends and colleagues, who appropriately are engaged in policy debates within the Liberal party. I don’t think there is anything deplorable about them at all.
QUESTION: But is it magnificent if they are looking to fight against what Malcolm Turnbull is trying to say?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I don’t believe that the people on the invite list, allegedly, are doing any such thing.
Thank you very much.