Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
QUESTION: Are the protections bill for the same sex marriage postal vote, when do you expect to introduce that into the Parliament?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Government was always of the view that these protections should be in place, which is why we put legislation again into the Senate last week, which would have provided for a compulsory personal attendance plebiscite under the auspices of the Electoral Commission. The Parliament decided not to go down that path. So we are now conducting a voluntary postal survey under the auspices of the ABS. So we are now conducting a postal survey under the auspices of the ABS. What we have said is that if there was a consensus across the Parliament, which we will be exploring this week, on making sure that existing legal protections are further complemented, then we are happy to do so.
QUESTION: Do you expect Labor will support?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not going to speak for the Labor party. I have been very heartened to see the reported comments in the media this morning that there appears to be some preparedness to engage with us in relation to this. Certainly from the Government’s point of view, our commitment is to ensure that this process is fair and that the Australian people get the opportunity to have their say in the right environment. We believe that the protections usually in place in the context of an election campaign would be sensible for the purpose of this exercise. If there was a consensus along those lines in the Parliament, then we would act very swiftly. We will be exploring that this week.
QUESTION: Do you think the process will be threatened if these protections aren’t in place?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There are a whole range of legal protections already in place. But we believe and we certainly agree with those who would suggest that it would be desirable to have all of the usual protections in place that make sense for this sort of exercise. If there is a consensus along those lines in the Parliament, we will act swiftly.
QUESTION: And you are confident there won’t be any freedom of speech issues?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Again, we are not proposing to do anything other than what is in place in the context of an election campaign. I don’t think that anyone would argue that there are freedom of speech issues in the context of an election campaign. These are just your usual safeguards, such as making sure that people can identify who is responsible for campaign material by having appropriate authorisations and things of that nature. We think that is sensible. We think that is desirable. If there is a consensus across the Parliament along those lines then we will pursue it.
QUESTION: Are you confident that the postal vote will stand up to the High Court challenges?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are confident that what we have proposed, which is a statistical collection exercise, it is giving the Australian people a say on whether or not the definition of marriage should be changed through an ABS postal survey - we believe that that is within our Constitutional powers. We believe that the ABS has all of the statutory powers including to spend the money. But this is now a matter for the High Court to determine.
QUESTION: One immigration question if I can, why has the Government introduced reforms to the Border Force Act that are aimed at narrowing the scope of information that is covered by secrecy rules.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am sure that that is a question that my friend and colleague Peter Dutton, the Minister responsible will be only too pleased to answer for you.
QUESTION: Can you breakdown the modelling of Labor’s tax policies?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Sure. Labor wants to impose more than $150 billion worth of taxes on the Australian economy, which would damage investment, which would hurt growth, which would lead to fewer jobs and lower wages. A significant chunk of that $150 billion in additional taxes is about $65 billion in additional taxes to be imposed on business. That is by Labor’s own admission. The Coalition, our revenue forecasts in the Budget, are based on an assumption and a rule that we have imposed on ourselves that taxes as a share of GDP should not be allowed to go past 23.9 per cent. Labor is proposing to blow that cap out of the water. We believe that that would be bad for jobs, bad for wages and bad for the opportunity of people across Australia to get ahead and not the right way to go.