Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
KARL STEFANOVIC: The Government's woes roll on this morning. The Western Australian National Party says Barnaby Joyce's position is no longer tenable. They are no longer supporting him. It comes as the PM flies to the US to meet President Trump, leaving Finance Minister Mathias Cormann in charge of the country as acting PM. Acting PM good morning to you.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good morning. It does not start until later today.
KARL STEFANOVIC: I know but we are rolling just with it for breakfast television purposes. How did it sound?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, you know I could get used to it.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Do tell.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Look, it is really just business as usual. The Prime Minister remains the Prime Minister, including when he is in Washington and I am just going to represent him on the ground here in Australia.
KARL STEFANOVIC: There is nothing like someone taking your job who has ambition.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am in the Senate, so everybody knows that Leader of the Government in the Senate is the upper limit of my political career ambitions.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Do you feel like the Steven Bradbury of the Party, the tenth cab off the rank in this situation?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There is a job to be done, I will give it my best shot and do the best I can.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Tony Abbott says the Government would be weaker without Barnaby Joyce, do you agree?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, Barnaby Joyce is a very senior and effective politician. He is a good friend and valued college. He has had a tough couple of weeks. He is dealing with some deeply personal matters, some of which have spilled over into the professional and it has been a bit of a distraction for the Government in recent times. Both for him personally, his family's sake and his new partner and also for the Government, we need to get to the other side of this as soon as we can.
KARL STEFANOVIC: How do you get to the other side? What does the other side look like? Is he there or not?
MATHIAS CORMANN: This is a matter entirely for Barnaby and the National Party. We are in a Coalition. The same as we determine the leader of the Liberal Party, the National Party determines the leader of the National Party.
KARL STEFANOVIC: You must have an opinion though, should he go or stay?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is not for me to comment.
KARL STEFANOVIC: You have to work with him.
MATHIAS CORMANN: And I work very closely with him. Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce have done very good work together in the past and I am very confident that they will do very good work together for the nation in the future.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Regardless he is not going anywhere, it would seem, Barnaby Joyce, in fact he is effectively flicking you the bird, saying up yours Malcolm.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, that is your interpretation. I do not agree with that.
KARL STEFANOVIC: What do you think he is doing, he is staying put.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, again, he is the leader of the National Party. We are in Coalition with the National Party and the leadership of the National Party is entirely a matter for them.
KARL STEFANOVIC: He is not going anywhere, though?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, that is clearly what he is saying.
KARL STEFANOVIC: So how do you move forward?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, we just keep doing the job that we were elected to do. Do the best we can to secure more jobs and higher wages. Our next priority is to get our business tax cuts through the Australian Senate so that Australian businesses can be globally competitive.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Just one final one on that, given what happened in the Newspoll this week, it was an absolute disaster for you. If he stays, it is going to be worse for the Coalition.
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have a job to do….interrupted.
KARL STEFANOVIC: But you can't possibly move on if he is there.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, I disagree. We must move on. The country wants us to move on. We must move on. We need to focus on the things that we were elected to do and that is what will happen.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Tax cuts it would be music to a lot of business's ears. How are you going to get that through the Senate?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We will engage in a conversation both with the public and with all of the Parties represented in the Senate. It is self-evident that if we want more jobs and higher wages, then the businesses that have to create those jobs and pay those wages need to have the opportunity to successfully compete with businesses around the world.
KARL STEFANOVIC: That is all fine but you are not going to get it through the Senate, at this point.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Let’s wait and see.
KARL STEFANOVIC: How are you going to do it?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We will just keep talking to people.
KARL STEFANOVIC: You have been talking a long time. They do not seem to be listening.
MATHIAS CORMANN: People make all sorts of predictions all the time. We will just keep talking.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Do you feel proud to be Acting Prime Minister?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Look, it is business as usual.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Come on. It is a big deal.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, others seem to get more excited about it. Quite frankly, I am just doing the job in the way that I do the job every day.
KARL STEFANOVIC: On a much lighter note, what I love about you Mathias is you have brought a bit of European culture and class to the Aussie Parliament, but you also do have a great sense of humour your friends say. I wonder if you have ever thought at those wild and crazy Liberal Party fund races to do an Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonator. Do you ever want to do a Bronwyn Bishop and get to the chopper?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I would much rather say that I’ll be back.
KARL STEFANOVIC: You got it Mathias. Congratulations on being Acting PM. You have worked hard for it and we wish you all the very best in the top job.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Thank you.