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: Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook

QUESTION: Finance Minister, how do you sell this Budget? Labor is saying that the Budget repair is at the expense of lower and middle income families. How do you sell that to families, particularly with university cuts?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Labor is quite wrong. We are actually spending more in this Budget update on higher education to the tune of about $540 million plus than in the budget. The university sector has received significant funding boosts in recent years, well above the cost of providing their services. At a time when all parts of the economy, all parts of the community, all parts of Government have to pitch in to help repair the Budget, it is not appropriate in our view for the university sector to continue to be completely exempted. There are opportunities for efficiencies there. The measures in our half-yearly budget update are entirely sensible. 

QUESTION: Education providers are saying that this will just make it tougher for university students. University degrees are already pretty expensive. How do you ... 

MATHIAS CORMANN: There is absolutely no reason for the efficiencies that we have announced yesterday to have any impact on the cost of university degrees. As I have just indicated, funding for universities has skyrocketed in recent years compared to the cost of providing the service to students. We do have high quality universities, but the funding for universities also has to be affordable and sustainable for future generations. We cannot just keep boosting funding for one part of the community and ignore everybody else. 

QUESTION: Personal income tax cuts, can the Budget really afford them?

MATHIAS CORMANN: The Budget already assumes future tax cuts, because unlike Labor we have imposed a tax as a share of GDP cap on our revenue forecasts of 23.9 per cent. There is already an in-built assumption of future tax cuts. That is after already having ensured that our Budget can get back to surplus by 2020-21. We are able to deliver based on our revenue in our assumptions today, we are able to afford future tax cuts while maintaining the Budget in surplus.

QUESTION: Some economists are saying you are better off hanging onto that, instead of giving personal income tax cuts and that that is just to buy votes. What is your reaction to that?

MATHIAS CORMANN: I do not agree. As I say, we are able to do both, return the Budget to surplus as well as deliver personal income tax cuts in the future. We are working on providing those personal income tax cuts to hard working middle income Australians as soon as possible. That is work that will take place over the next weeks and months. When we are in a position to make relevant announcements, we will make them. But our commitment is to do both. Return the Budget to surplus, maintain it in surplus and deliver personal income tax cuts to hard working Australians. 

QUESTION: I guess the big question is for mums and dads out there, when and how much are we going to get?

MATHIAS CORMANN: That is going to be a matter for future budgets and budget updates. When all of the work has been done, when all of the information has been reviewed and all of the decisions have been made, then the announcements will be made at that time. 

QUESTION: Will it be before or after Budget?

MATHIAS CORMANN: As soon as possible.

QUESTION: Before or after the Budget?

MATHIAS CORMANN: As soon as possible.

QUESTION: Alright, thank you.