Transcript

Doorstop – Mural Hall

Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia

Transcription: 

PROOF COPY E & OE

Date: 

29/3/2018

Topic(s): 

Business tax cuts

QUESTION: Where are the negotiations at on company tax cuts? We heard from Tim Storer yesterday saying he would not be supporting it in its current form.

MATHIAS CORMANN: What he said actually was that he remains to be convinced. The Government will continue to work to convince him and others in the same way as we convinced the four crossbench Senators that have decided to come on board this past fortnight. A couple of weeks ago, the front pages of the newspapers were screaming that the company tax cut legislation was dead. That was clearly somewhat premature. We have made significant progress in these past two weeks. We are very grateful that Senator Martin and Senator Hanson and One Nation have come on board, because this is very important for working families around Australia. If we continue to put Australia’s businesses at a competitive disadvantage with businesses in other parts of the world with whom they are competing for market share, then it will cost investment and jobs in Australia. We need to get these tax cuts through. We will continue to make the case. The legislation will come back on in May.

QUESTION: How open are you to looking at broader tax reform that it seems Senator Storer is after?

MATHIAS CORMANN: We have been pursuing broader tax reform ever since we were elected. We have passed income tax cuts for middle-income earners, we have scrapped the mining tax and the carbon tax, we have introduced accelerated depreciation arrangements, well instant asset write off arrangements for small business. We have pursued the most comprehensive reforms to superannuation taxation arrangements for a very very long time. At every Budget, in the lead up to every Budget, we consider what the options are to further improve our tax system to ensure it is as growth friendly, as efficient and as equitable as possible. That is what we are doing in the context of this Budget. We have already indicated that we will be pursuing personal income tax cuts in this upcoming Budget. This is just business as usual for us, is my point. We always consider the tax system as a whole. We always consider how the tax system can be further improved. We will continue to do that moving forward. But let me say, that none of this should stop us from making a decision now to ensure that our business tax rate is globally competitive. The need to reduce our business tax rate is urgent and important. If we do not do it, we will cause harm to the Australian economy and to jobs. 

QUESTION: Have you tried to re-open the communications lines with the other two South Australian Senators, Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff?

MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not going to go into specifics. What I would say is that I always talk to all my Senate colleagues, including Senate colleagues on the Labor side and the Greens who are prepared to talk to me. I think it is very important for us to keep talking across the board. I think the Australian people expect us to continue to explore opportunities to find a consensus. I would actually invite Bill Shorten to reconsider his position and to reconsider the national interest here. Bill Shorten actually knows in his heart of hearts that reducing the business tax rate to 25 per cent is the right thing to do by jobs and by wages. He has said many times that a lower company tax rate would lead to more investment, to more jobs and to higher wages. Chris Bowen, as late as September 2015 said that he accepted that a higher company tax rate falls hardest on workers and that we should be aiming for a company tax rate of 25 per cent. He said that about seven months prior to us putting that policy into our Budget. The only reason Labor decided to come out against it is because they made a political decision in the lead up to the last election. Bill Shorten has sold out working families across Australia, in his perceived political self-interest. He knows what is right. But he has made a decision not to do what is right. 

QUESTION: Is the Government considering further cuts to foreign aid in next month’s Budget?

MATHIAS CORMANN: The Budget will be delivered on the second Tuesday in May.

QUESTION: Have there been discussions about a $400 million cut to foreign aid.

MATHIAS CORMANN: The Budget will be delivered on the second Tuesday in May.

QUESTION: You were talking about income tax cuts there and how the Government is always considering these. Is there any indication that this could be something that would be mandated to sit alongside the company tax cuts if that is what someone like Senator Storer wanted?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Firstly, as far as conversations with Senator Storer are concerned, I will not conduct these conversations as I have not conducted any other conversations with crossbench Senators through the media. The other point I would make,  is that it is the Liberal National Party’s view in Government that we should always aim for taxes to be as low as possible. As high as necessary to fund the necessary services that Australians expect to be provided by their Government. As low as possible, but as high as necessary. For the money to be raised in the most efficient, least distorting way in the economy and in a way that is fair and equitable. That is always our focus. The taxation arrangements in the lead up to any Budget are always under review and that is what we will continue to do moving forward.

QUESTION: How concerning is it that two people may have been killed in a recent Australian air strike in Iraq and two children injured?

MATHIAS CORMANN: That is a very distressing report. I am not aware of the facts, so I am not in a position to comment on it further, but that is a very distressing report.

QUESTION: We have seen some pretty swift action by Cricket Australia overnight, sending him Steve Smith and David Warner. Do you think that will satisfy the Australia public and the dissatisfaction they are feeling? 

MATHIAS CORMANN: It is the appropriate sanction. What happened is terrible. What happened, should not have happened, should never happen again. All Australians are very disappointed. But at some point we will have to draw a line under this and move forward. Let us hope that we can get into that position soon.

QUESTION: Is it encouraging that the Trump Administration signalled that any cap on Australian steel imports is likely to be more generous than those on South Korea and other countries?

MATHIAS CORMANN: We continue to engage with the Trump Administration to ensure that the Australian interest is appropriately taken into consideration in all of the decisions that they make.

Thank you.

[ENDS]

Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance and the Public Service, Perth