Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
QUESTION: Can I start by asking, the Premier Mark McGowan saying today that the Federal Government will be punished if it does not give more share of the Defence contracts and the shipbuilding to WA. Is that something you worry about?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Western Australia will do very well out of the Federal Government’s $90 billion naval shipbuilding program. There are lots of opportunities for very successful businesses here in Western Australia to participate in what is clearly a very significant investment over many years to come into our national security.
QUESTION: South Australia has got a much bigger share though, is that fair?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There have been some decisions in relation to in particular the procurement of submarines, which was always going to be centred around South Australia. But there are lots of very significant opportunities here for Western Australia. In the weeks and months to come we will have more to say about it.
QUESTION: Is it locked in stone at the moment? Is there any chance the portions could change and be directed towards Western Australia?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Western Australia will get a significant share of the investment in terms of our $90 billion naval shipbuilding program. There will be significant opportunity for businesses here in Western Australia to contribute and to participate in our naval shipbuilding plan. Significant announcements have already been made in that regard. We will have more to say about that.
QUESTION: Businesses representatives at Uluru seem likely to push for a new Indigenous representative body. Is that something your Government would support on principle?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I will let the relevant Minister comment on this. Nigel Scullion is the Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
QUESTION: Do you remain confident that the Government can usher through constitutional recognition? Is the bipartisan approach to that holding?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Government remains committed to constitutional recognition, yes.
QUESTION: On the Cranston affair, do you think that scandal has undermined public confidence in the ATO?
MATHIAS CORMANN: No. This is an isolated incident as far as the ATO is concerned. All of the advice that we have received from the Australian Federal Police is that this is very much an isolated incident as far as the ATO is concerned. There is now an ongoing investigation, which needs to take its course. We have full confidence both in the Australia Federal Police and in the Australian Taxation Office.
QUESTION: Colin Barnett said this week the Productivity Commission GST review would achieve nothing. Does that undermine the review, his comments?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We do not agree with him.
QUESTION: What do you think it will achieve then?
MATHIAS CORMANN: What we have announced is a Productivity Commission inquiry into the impact of GST sharing arrangements on national productivity and growth. We want to ensure that all States across Australia have the right incentives to grow and develop their economies to their full potential. Ultimately, what we want is to ensure that the pie that can be shared around is as large as it possibly can be. This is only one part as Colin Barnett is aware. The Federal Government now has made three GST top up payments, three Federal GST top up payments to Western Australia, to the tune of more than $1.2 billion. That is to ensure that WA’s share of the GST does not fall below the 2014-15 level, which we have achieved. Beyond that, there is a process through the Council of Australian Governments in pursuit of a future floor. That is a process that continues. The Productivity Commission inquiry is an important additional component to this process.
QUESTION: Some Liberal MPs at a State level are pretty keen for Mr Barnett to resign, saying he is a distraction to their efforts in Opposition. Is that a line of thought you agree with?
MATHIAS CORMANN: That is entirely a matter for Mr Barnett.
QUESTION: Do you think he should stay in the Parliament?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not a commentator.
QUESTION: It must be nice to have your name on a building like this.
MATHIAS CORMANN: This is a fantastic addition to WA’s services infrastructure. There has been a $250 million plus investment into the revitalisation of this precinct. This is a great addition to, as I say, WA’s services infrastructure, providing another option to business travellers and tourists here in Perth in a great location between the airport and the city, close to the river, close to the new Perth Stadium, close to convention centre facilities. This is a great development. It is fantastic to be associated with it.
QUESTION: On Mr Barnett’s Productivity Commission comments, were you disappointed that he made those comments publicly when you and a lot of other Federal Liberals have been talking it up as a potential solution to WA’s issues?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We focus on making a positive difference, achieving the best possible outcomes, standing up for WA. That is what we will continue to do.