Transcripts → 2017


Doorstop - Mural Hall

Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia


Date: Thursday, 11 May 2017

2017-18 Budget reply


Bill Shorten’s speech tonight was full of political rhetoric, but did not put forward a plan to grow the economy and create more jobs. 

There was not a single policy to strengthen growth, create more jobs or give Australians higher wages. 

His numbers did not add up. 

He failed to commit to a surplus in 2021. 

He seems to be spending some of his revenue measures twice. 

He has clearly the intention to impose a 5 per cent tax increase on 3.2 million small businesses, small to medium size businesses across Australia and the 6.5 million Australians who they employ. 

He has failed to provide numbers over a four year estimates period, which is just another demonstration that he is not able to add up the numbers over the current forward estimates period. 

What Bill Shorten should do is submit his speech to the Parliamentary Budget Office for costing over the forward estimates period, so that all Australians can see the true cost of the spending promises that Bill Shorten made tonight. 

If Bill Shorten is serious, he needs to come clean with the Australian people about how much bigger the deficit will be over the forward estimates period as a result of the announcements that he has made today. 

The numbers do not add up, the deficit will be bigger. We know that he went with a $16.5 billion bigger deficit to the last election. We believe that as a result of the speech that he delivered today the situation would be even worse putting our AAA credit rating at risk and putting our economy at risk. 

Happy to take questions. 

QUESTION: Mr Shorten says that he will support an increase in the Medicare levy but only for higher income earning Australians. Is that something you would consider supporting?

MATHIAS CORMANN: We have delivered our measure in the Budget on Tuesday night. That is to increase the Medicare levy for all those who currently pay the Medicare levy by 0.5 per cent. 

QUESTION: Will you be negotiating with the crossbench now about where that Medicare levy increase would start at, in terms of the threshold?

MATHIAS CORMANN: We delivered our plan on Tuesday night. It is a fair and responsible plan. It is a plan we will now set out to implement through the Parliament. If you look at our track record since last year's Budget, our track record in particular since the last election, we have been very successful in getting most of our plan through the Parliament over the last 12 months. We will be setting out to do the same now.

QUESTION: Is there any wiggle room at all on this Medicare levy?

MATHIAS CORMANN: I am here today talking about Bill Shorten's address in reply. It is very clear that Bill Shorten delivered yet another speech that was full on political rhetoric but did not have a plan for the economy, did not have a plan to bring the Budget back into surplus. He failed to commit to a return to surplus by 2020-21. You can read that as him clearly not being committed to the necessary fiscal discipline to get the Budget back into surplus in an appropriate timetable. 

He failed to commit to secure the funding necessary for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. In fact, some of the revenue measures, such as the proposal to keep the temporary Budget repair levy in place over a longer period, he already spent in the last election. He is spending it again tonight, or so he is suggesting.

QUESTION: Bill Shorten has accused the Government of purveying fake fairness. Are you confident that the Coalition can win the fairness debate in the mind of the Australian public? 

MATHIAS CORMANN: Our Budget is responsible and fair. It is fair for us to bring our Budget back into surplus by 2020-21, which he clearly has failed to commit himself to. 

He wants to continue to borrow from future generations of Australians for longer forcing them to pay higher taxes or accept deeper spending cuts down the track. That is not fair. 

What is fair is for us to fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme, to ensure that the National Disability Insurance Scheme can be funded on an ongoing basis.

QUESTION: Senator, are you disappointed that you are going to have to negotiate with eleven independents to get the Medicare levy through the way you want to get it through? Wouldn't have you thought that Bill Shorten may have supporter or Labor would have supported you given that Bill Shorten introduced the NDIS? 

MATHIAS CORMANN: Bill Shorten is a flip flopper from way back. Bill Shorten is very good at the wibble wobble. Bill Shorten back in 2014 said that he would oppose the Budget repair levy. Then he voted for it. Now he wants to make it permanent. So just because Bill Shorten says something today, do not necessarily assume that is going to be the last word.

QUESTION: Just to confirm though, you will have to negotiate with the crossbench in order to get the Medicare hike through?

MATHIAS CORMANN: This is part of our day job. That is what with have to do all the time. 

QUESTION: Have you started that yet? The negotiations with the crossbench?

MATHIAS CORMANN: We delivered the budget on Tuesday night. We were interested to see whether Bill Shorten would step up to the plate and take responsibility or whether he would continue the wibble wobble routine. It is clear that he is still into the wibble wobble. He is not really committed to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. If he was genuinely committed to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, he would have told Australians tonight that he would join with the Coalition to make the necessary decisions to secure the funding.

QUESTION: How much more difficult does this make your job now that you have got to negotiate with the crossbench?

MATHIAS CORMANN: We will do what we always do and that is seek to convince as many Australians as we can of the merits of the plan we have put forward and we will continue to work with all Senators, non-Government Senators, to get a majority in the Senate for our plan.

Thank you very much.