Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
MATHIAS CORMANN: For the past few weeks Bill Shorten has been suggesting that he would spend $65 billion worth of money that he says would come from not proceeding with our proposal to reduce business taxes, our proposal to reduce business taxes, to boost investment, boost productivity, boost growth and help create more and better paid jobs. $30 billion of that has already been legislated by the Parliament. Bill Shorten needs to tell us this week once and for all whether he would reverse those legislated business tax cuts, whether he would go after small and medium sized businesses who will see their business tax rate reduced to 25 per cent over a ten year period and whether he will put investment and jobs at risk.
He has been walking both sides of the street for long enough now. It is time this week for Bill Shorten to come clean with the Australian people. It is time for Bill Shorten to come clean with small and medium sized businesses across Australia. Will he increase their taxes and put investment and jobs at risk, or will he support the Coalition’s business tax cuts for small and medium sized businesses, which have already been legislated by the Parliament.
Happy to take questions.
QUESTION: Minister, reports this morning of a secret taskforce considering major reforms to healthcare funding to hospitals funding in general. If this taskforce put something like that to the Government at some point, is it something the Government would consider?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There is no secret task force. There is no secret plan. What is reported in the Fairfax papers today does not reflect Government policy. From time to time public servants might be working through various issues, but the Government’s policy is very clear. We have been boosting investment in Medicare. We have been boosting investment in our hospitals. Private health is a very important pillar of our health system. We need both a strong private and a strong public health system in Australia. That is the way we can ensure that all Australians can have affordable and timely access to world-class hospital care. There is no such plan, it does not reflect Government policy.
QUESTION: Do you support the idea of a treaty and should there be an Australia’s first people’s voice in the Parliament?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I support the proposition that we should pursue Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians in a way that can achieve majority support in a majority of States. That should be our focus. That is what all of us should be focused on.
QUESTION: Is it time to close down the Recognise campaign now that there has been calls for more substantive reform?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have to ensure that the way we approach this important issue is a way that brings Australians together. We need to ensure that we pursue proposals for Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians in a way that has a chance of achieving majority support in a majority of States.
QUESTION: This morning’s Newspoll found a slim majority of voters support Labor’s model for the Medicare levy, is that concerning to the Government?
MATHIAS CORMANN: When we came into Government we inherited a situation where the previous Labor government had made promises to people across Australia with a disability that they would introduce a National Disability Insurance Scheme. The problem is that the National Disability Insurance Scheme was not properly funded. Labor at the time knew it was not properly funded, Julia Gillard at the time knew that at a time in the future when the NDIS would fully ramp up that there would be a need to make further decisions to ensure that it was properly funded. We are putting forward a proposal to ensure it is properly funded, that it is fairly funded. That is to increase the Medicare levy by 0.5 per cent from 1 July 2019 onwards. That is precisely what Labor has done in the past. It is a fair way to go. It means that the less you earn the less you pay, the more you earn, the more you pay. If you are currently exempted from paying the Medicare levy, you continue to be exempted. That is what we believe is a fair and reasonable way to ensure that the important National Disability Insurance Scheme can be fully and properly and sustainably funded.
QUESTION: If the US asks should Australia increase its troop presence in Afghanistan?
MATHIAS CORMANN: These are matters that would be considered and addressed in the appropriate way by the responsible Ministers and the Prime Minister.