Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
Date: Thursday, 5 April 2018
ALAN JONES: It is fifteen after seven. Here it is, on the Eastern seaboard. But in Western Australia, where poor Senator Mathias Cormann is, and we talk to him on Thursdays to try and get an insight into things and hear from a senior Government figure, but it is fifteen after five. We are very grateful to him. So Mathias I am sure your in dressing gown and everything else, but good morning to you.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good morning Alan. Good morning to your listeners.
ALAN JONES: Now look, I have been swamped. This is not portfolio stuff. You are one of the senior political figures in this country. I have been swamped this morning and last night, by text messages and emails from people simply switching off. The opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games because its preoccupation with quote unquote indigenous message. The comments are widespread and scarifying. One says it’s the last straw of the left. We should be ashamed the Games are reduced to a trendy beach corroboree. Another, I won’t be watching another bloody thing if we can help it. Another, you can’t distort the fact that this is an attempt to blackwash history. A very young person, a senior person in the Liberal party quote, I have just turned off the opening ceremony what an utterly tacky, embarrassing self flagellating, pathetic production, the constant rewriting of our history, Peter Beattie and his reconciliation action committee can go jump. Now Mathias, do you people in Canberra get any feel of this anger in the community.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I have to say Alan, I was out last night at some commitments. I have not myself seen the ceremony. I am disappointed that that is the feedback. I am sure that people who were organising that opening ceremony would have put their best effort into it. I am sure that the organisers are hearing all of the feedback loud and clear. It is not something that I myself have had any involvement in, so I can not really … interrupted
ALAN JONES: Alright, I understand thank you for that and I am sure because this poor coot’s busy, he is carrying the can for the Government trying to get a message across, but if I could just then take it away from the opening ceremony because, there was the great Raelene Boyle yesterday, one of the greatest athletes this country has ever produced. She was one of the final baton carriers in the relay. She was at Tedder Avenue, a famous, lovely spot here on the Gold Coast and there we had indigenous protestors sitting in the middle of the road, causing a nuisance and blocking the relay. And last night, as you went to Carrara Stadium there they were out in force, and the chant was, colonisation is not a game. This was the chant. Now where does that come from Mathias? Well we have just had a new nursing code, right across Australia. 360,000 nurses are governed by this and a special section dedicated to culture, which details that quote, white Australians and their quote unquote inherent privilege has to be proclaimed in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. And the code says quote, cultural safety is as important to quality care as clinical safety. And it says this and this is where the word colonisation comes from, in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, cultural safety provides a de-colonising model of practice. Mathias, isn’t someone in Canberra to stop this nonsense.
MATHIAS CORMANN: The events that you are describing from last night are regrettable. Australia is a highly successful nation, which was settled, as is well understood, some time ago now. I think we have to look forward to the future and continue to make Australia the most successful nation we can be, as a harmonious community, with significant waves of migrants who have made Australia their home over many, many, many decades.
ALAN JONES: They don’t get a mention. They don’t get a mention Mathias. There they were, the 1.5 billion around the world watching last night. Let me tell you. You thought, hello, now this is it, firstly are they going to do Gold Coast because it’s a beautiful, beautiful part, are they going to do Queensland, a wonderful history of Queensland, are they going to do Australia, look at what Australia has become, a productive, economically strong outfit, which provides money for everybody and wealth to the world. No, we started with indigenous dancers, a welcome to country, a smoke ceremony, a didgeridoo orchestra. And this goes on for thirty-five minutes.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I do believe that our indigenous culture is an important part of our history. We should … interrupted
ALAN JONES: Part, part, part, part Mathias. Part.
MATHIAS CORMANN: And that is right. We are an amazingly successful nation. We should be proud of what has been achieved. In particular, since Federation. We need to continue to build on it and project ourselves as a confident, successful modern nation.
ALAN JONES: But someone has got to tell these people. Mathias, your Government generously, generously, generously is providing $30.3 billion of our money, $30,000 million every year to assist indigenous disadvantage. That is about $45,000 for every Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander. Can someone say thank you Mathias? Can someone say thank you to the people you’re broadcasting to now, who are going to work, rolling up their sleeve, paying taxes and so on, and many of them are indigenous Australians paying taxes. Can someone say thank you for the fact that you are looking after us? Or do we have to cop protest after protest and then we yield to all of this? We yield to it? I had a letter this week Mathias, from a father, Stuart his name is, his poor little boy is having a brain tumour removed at Randwick Hospital and the one thing he noticed was that every single waiting room in the Prince of Wales Children’s Hospital and the Randwick Children’s Hospital has an Aboriginal flag and a map of Australia showing all the Aboriginal tribes. No Australian flag, no New South Wales flag. When is enough, enough?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There is much in what you have just raised. Firstly, I do think we do need to be proud of our whole history, all of our history, including our indigenous heritage. I think that there is clearly a very strong case in favour of continued efforts to close the gap between Australians generally and indigenous Australians facing disadvantage. That is not an easy challenge to address. Governments of both persuasions over many years have tried to find new and better ways to deal with these issues. I think that in the end we have to continue to look for ways to bring Australians together …. interrupted
ALAN JONES: Quite. I agree. That is what people are complaining about here Mathias. We have got a Liberal government in New South Wales endorsing the fact, I had the Minister on here the other day, that every emergency hospital department in New South Wales will have a quote culturally appropriate space or a quote designated Aboriginal waiting room and this is a mandatory policy. Now Mathias, this is apartheid, this is segregation, this is the thing we fought against.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not aware of these things. I am certainly not in favour …. interrupted
ALAN JONES: I am telling you it is fact. So what would you say?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I do not think that anyone is in favour of segregation. I am sure that the State Government in New South Wales is not pursuing segregation ….interrupted
ALAN JONES: Well that is what they say.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I do believe there is an appropriate place for appropriate recognition of our cultural heritage, including our indigenous heritage. I think that in so far as it can help, bring all Australians closer together, there is a sensible …. interrupted
ALAN JONES: It does not bring them together, it is dividing them. This is dividing them. This is what the nursing code says, in other words, before you start treating an indigenous person, a nurse has got to acknowledge her white privilege. What has that got to do with health?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I hear what you are saying Alan.
ALAN JONES: Well let me take it then right onto your front door, because you are trying to establish the post, you, your Government of an indigenous productivity commissioner. I do not know why we need one, but anyway, do not worry about that. But it defines in the legislation an indigenous person as quote a member of the Aboriginal race of Australia or descendent of an indigenous inhabitant of the Torres Strait. I read that and I thought there was no problem there. The Labor party are objecting to the word race and your Government caved in and had the word removed. I mean … interrupted
MATHIAS CORMANN: That is not quite right. There is a longstanding definition of ‘indigenous person’ through our case law. What happened in the Senate the other week was a consensus across the Senate that the longstanding definition of an indigenous person as has been applied in case law for many, many years, should continue to apply, that there is no need for a separate statutory definition of what an indigenous person is. That is essentially all that happened there.
ALAN JONES: But wouldn’t you say that, to put it simply, that an indigenous person is quote a member of the Aboriginal race of Australia? What is wrong with that? What is wrong with that?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not going to reopen that discussion of who an indigenous person is in our radio discussion this morning, I mean it is way out of my area of responsibility … interrupted
ALAN JONES: Okay, alright.
MATHIAS CORMANN: … there is a longstanding definition which has been settled for some time and the Government accepted that there was no need to reopen that in the context of the productivity commission related Bill …. interrupted
ALAN JONES: Just a general point, but you have already alluded to and you have kept saying it several times and I know you very well and I am sure that is a sentiment you express that we have got much to celebrate. Just finally to get off this, wouldn’t it be lovely last night, with the world watching, we open by celebrating this wonderful country, firstly the beautiful Gold Coast, then the beautiful Queenslanders, the bloody Barrier Reef, wherever you want to go, then there is Australia. Wouldn’t it have been lovely to send that total whole message to the world?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I think we should always take the opportunity to sell our country in all of its beauty. We are a wonderful country. We do have many aspects to our history and I think we should proudly present ourselves to the world as a confident, forward looking, prosperous, modern nation. Whatever opportunity we get, we should sell Australia in all of its beauty and all of its …. interrupted
ALAN JONES: Yes, absolutely, I would have hoped that everyone would be running to their travel agent today saying, after what I saw last night, too bad if it is a long way away, I am going. I am going. I want to come.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I hope people will. I hope people will.
ALAN JONES: Well I do not think so. Mathias, you did not see it, but I can tell you they most probably will not. Now look, can I ask you what is going on in the party room? What does someone say when you pick up The Australian newspaper on Monday and it has got the state by state report of the plight of the Turnbull Government overall two-party preferred stuck at 53-47 to Labor, New South Wales 53-47 to Labor, Victoria 54-46 to Labor, Queensland 51-49 to Labor, South Australia 54-46 to Labor, WA 52-48 to Labor and on that basis the Coalition would lose more than 20 seats across the country. People like Christian Porter, Peter Dutton, they would be gone, perhaps even Andrew Hastie. Is someone going to recognise that the Government has a problem and they are going to have to do something about it beyond just sending Mathias Cormann out every other day to try and sell a message?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have a bit of work to do to get ourselves in a position where we can win the next election. We have been here before. I was around the Liberal party back in February 2001, when the Howard Government was 57-43 behind. As the record shows we won the election later that same year. I know that Bill Shorten is already measuring the curtains at The Lodge. He is getting increasingly cocky and arrogant and coming up with more and more tax attacks on low and middle-income earners across Australia. There is still a lot of water to go under this bridge. There is still a lot of work to be done. When it is all said and done and the choice crystallises in people’s minds between a continuation of the Turnbull Government or the election of a Shorten Labor government, I believe that we will be in a very good position to win the trust and confidence of the Australian people again.
ALAN JONES: Okay. That is called the definition of optimism I think, on the light of the figures that are there. I will just volunteer one comment here and I said this would end in tears when Turnbull stabbed a democratically elected leader that Liberals and conservatives would not cop that and they are not and the anger is still there. But that is for another day. Can I just say this to you, in the light of the debate, because we have not got time to go into the detail about this energy policy. At seven o’clockyesterday morning, as Australians cooked their breakfast, 91 per cent of the power came from coal and gas, four per cent from hydro, which is also powered by coal and gas and the remaining, well less than five per cent from windmills and solar panels. Nothing would be happening today in Australia if we did not have coal-fired power, nothing. How does Government policy address that reality?
MATHIAS CORMANN: By making sure that we can boost investment into all energy sources, private sector investments, so that we can boost supply of energy, so we can improve affordability and reliability. We are proposing to end subsidies for all energy sources, in particular the renewable energy sources that we have discussed many times over. The National Energy Guarantee does that. It levels the playing field. It takes a technology agnostic approach. Where it makes sense to either extend the life of existing coal-fired power stations or invest in new coal-fired power generation, if that makes economic sense, the National Energy Guarantee is the best chance that coal-fired power generation will have. It provides a reliable and credible policy framework to facilitate that investment. Our approach is to attract additional investment by providing policy certainty irrespective of what the technology is to ensure that we can have more affordable, more reliable energy supplies. That is what it is all about … interrupted
ALAN JONES: Perhaps next week I will pick you up on that and take you to the next debate. I will give you a week to think about it, why then do we ban nuclear energy, because there is a clean source of power and we have got, again, the second most regular and reliable supply of uranium in the world. But that is for another day Mathias. I am sorry to get you out of bed so early, but looking forward to talking to you next week.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Any time. Looking forward to it. Talk then.