Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
QUESTION: It wouldn’t be COAG unless we were talking about GST and somebody being shafted. South Australia is really upset. How is this all going to play out today?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am sure that the Council of Australian Government meeting today is going to be a positive and constructive meeting. There is always a lot of noise traditionally in anticipation. During the meeting it is all very productive. At the end of it there will be an outcome. The Prime Minister and the Premiers will report on it.
QUESTION: Tax reform, it doesn’t appear like the big business tax cuts are going to go through. It now looks like we are probably heading more towards personal income tax cut before the next election. Would that be fair enough?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Do not get ahead of yourself. We have not even had the debate in the Senate yet. The truth is that Australia needs both. We need to ensure that our businesses have an internationally competitive business tax rate and we need personal income tax cuts for hard working families across Australia. If we want to secure more jobs and higher wages in Australia, we need to ensure that the businesses that have to pay for them have the best possible opportunity to be successful and profitable. When the business tax rate in most of the other parts of the world that we compete with are materially lower than those here in Australia, then we are making it too hard for business in Australia to be successful. Businesses in Australia need to have a tax rate which is internationally competitive so they can hire more Australians and pay them better wages.
QUESTION: How frustrating is it for you to try and get the Opposition to vote for something that deep down you know they believe in because they agitated for that tax cut previously.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Bill Shorten has made a cynical political judgement that it is in his best interest to hold Australia back. He does not mind if we have fewer jobs and lower wages now, because he thinks it serves his political purpose in the lead up to the next election. It is a cynical judgement. It is an outrageous judgement. He clearly knows that business tax cuts are in our national interest. He clearly knows that if we do not pass business tax cuts through the Parliament that it will damage our economy, damage investment, that it will cost jobs, lead to higher unemployment and lower wages. Yet he continues to persist with this reckless and irresponsible position, because he believes it is in his political self interest. He is shifty, socialist Bill.
QUESTION: Just quickly on public hospitals. It looks like the offer is $30 billion over five years. But it doesn’t seem like the Labor states want to get on board because they are still upset about the cuts Tony Abbott made.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Let us see what happens. The truth is funding for hospitals has been increasing substantially in recent years. It is proposed to increase substantially into the future. We have put forward a very generous offer. Let us just see how the discussions go today.
QUESTION: There is never enough money for hospitals are there?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We need to ensure that the taxpayers’ dollars go as far as possible. That they provide access as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible to all Australians to have access to high quality hospital care. In the end, you have got to make the numbers all add up.
QUESTION: Just finally, an easy one, cyber-bullying, I understand it is to of the list for Queensland coming down here to talk about it. Anastacia Palaszczuk wants to talk about it. Is it a State issue or a Federal issue?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I think it is something that quite appropriately, the Prime Minister and the Premiers and Chief Ministers should talk about. It is a very important issue. I think that all of us at our different levels of government can probably contribute to an overall better approach to it.