Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
NATALIE LOCKE: The Federal Budget was handed down last night and the Federal Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, great West Australian joins us now. Good morning.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good morning.
NATALIE LOCKE: Hey Mathias, what was the party like last night?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Ah, no party for me sadly. I have been talking to your colleagues all night last night and all morning this morning.
SHAUN MCMANUS: Really? Do you get like a buzz, you know, like when people are at the F1 or at the Grand Final? Is this your Grand Final?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well it is an important day. We are very conscious of the responsibility that we have to the country to do our best to get this right. We are focused on making sure the economy can be as strong as possible so that Australians today and into the future have the best possible opportunity to get ahead.
NATHAN MORRIS:: Mathias, it looks like there is not a lot of negatives to this Budget. There is a lot of good stuff going on. Now, all of us are very cynical and we think this is the case because there is an election next year so you are splashing the cash.
NATALIE LOCKE: You are buying our love.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well we have been doing the hard yards as a Government and as a nation for the last four and half years. You have to remember that when we came into Government the economy was weakening, unemployment was rising and the Budget position was rapidly deteriorating by about three billion dollars a week. We have worked to turn that situation around. We have implemented reforms to make the economy stronger, to create more jobs, 415,000 new jobs were created last year, which was the strongest employment growth on record. The Budget is back on track to surplus. We are no longer having to borrow to fund our day-to-day living expenses as a Government and we are getting debt under control.
SHAUN MCMANUS: Now there are some people like Tanya Plibersek who have come out and criticised that …interrupted
MATHIAS CORMANN: She would do that, wouldn’t she?
SHAUN MCMANUS: …That rebate. That works to be, no matter what bracket you are in, between $10 to $16 dollars a week. She kept on saying, in quite a negative way, it is enough to buy yourself a burger and a milkshake. So, Mathias, what I am pitching to you is, because a lot of people cannot imagine that money coming to them right, so maybe instead you could give us a burger and a milkshake each week. So you and your friends come and knock on our door and hand us a burger so we can see it. Would that work?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We do not think you should have a burger and a milkshake each week let me just say. It is your choice of course entirely, but I do not think the Government should provide you with a burger and a milkshake each week…interrupted
NATALIE LOCKE: What about a salad? Can we have a salad?
SHAUN MCMANUS: A salad or a chicken wrap?
NATHAN MORRIS:Maybe some rice paper rolls.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Let me make the more important point. We are providing tax relief. The Labor Party and Tanya Plibersek, they want to ramp up and increase the tax burden on Australians. So we are providing income tax relief to hardworking Australians, up to $530 a year. That will help a family with their car registration. It will help families deal with their cost of living pressures. It is more than $10 dollars for a family with two income earners. We are doing as much as we can responsibly afford while still staying on a trajectory where the Budget returns to surplus and we can continue to pay off debt.
SHAUN MCMANUS: All I heard then was you do not want me to have a burger all week.
MATHIAS CORMANN: You are free to buy whatever you want with your money, but as a Government, I do not want to supply you with burgers and milkshakes.
NATALIE LOCKE: What about we all invest in a burger chain, Mathias and then we do it so…interrupted
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well the day I have left this job, let us have another conversation about what we may or may not be able to do together.
SHAUN MCMANUS: I want you to go all Uber Eats and have you deliver me a burger.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well that might be my job when I leave this job.
NATHAN MORRIS:Hey Mathias, can you tell me about childcare. How people are going to be better off. A lot of people are trying to work and make ends meet, but their kids have to go to childcare.
MATHIAS CORMANN: There are significant reforms coming into effect on the 2nd of July this year, where again, prioritising low and middle income earners, we are boosting the level of childcare subsidy available to those families. Because like you, we are very conscious of the fact that we should support families to properly balance work and family.
SHAUN MCMANUS: Mathias, one thing over here that fills all of us with rage, to the point that we are thinking of building a wall…interrupted
NATALIE LOCKE: And because you are a West Australian you can appreciate this.
SHAUN MCMANUS: It is the GST carve-up which is fundamentally unfair. If you do not even understand anything about it, you look at it on paper and you see it is unfair. Why is it taking so long for you guys to sort that out? Because we just keep on feeling like the goal post is getting moved and moved. Now you guys are using it as an election promise. Why hasn’t it been sorted out before. What is the deal, what’s the drama?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Firstly, we were the first Government that actually recognised that what was happening was unfair…interrupted
SHAUN MCMANUS: How long ago was that though?
MATHIAS CORMANN: And we were the first Government that started to addressed it…interrupted
SHAUN MCMANUS: How long ago was that though, nothing has been done.
MATHIAS CORMANN: April 2015. Since April 2015, we have provided more than $1.4 billion in federal top-up payments to Western Australia in recognition of the inappropriately low share of GST. This year, effectively we have lifted WA’s share of the GST to 50 cents in a dollar.
SHAUN MCMANUS: 50 cents!
MATHIAS CORMANN: Indeed. When we came in it was on a pathway to below 30 cents in a dollar.
SHAUN MCMANUS: I know but 50 cents is wrong as well. So why don’t you give us the normal amount that we all should be getting. Why are we leaching forward so…interrupted
NATALIE LOCKE: Why just top-up payments? Why not just fix the system?
MATHIAS CORMANN: This is a matter that involves not just Western Australia but all states. We have commissioned a Productivity Commission review into the national productivity and growth implications of the current GST sharing arrangements. That is due to report next week. As soon as that report comes in, we will be considering the recommendations and dealing with it as appropriate from there.
NATHAN MORRIS: We understand that the other states are sitting there and they are going, well we are not going to be giving up our money. But that is because they know that it’s unfair, but clear as day it is unfair…interrupted
NATALIE LOCKE: But they have already spent the money in their head…interrupted
SHAUN MCMANUS: And you would know from being a West Aussie and you would know from you having ties here, it is putting such a sour taste in our mouth and it really needs to be dealt because it will affect the election, because we are ropable about this.
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have provided a short-term solution and we recognise that there needs to be a medium term solution…interrupted
SHAUN MCMANUS: Long term solution, long term solution, show me the money.
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are the only major party that is actually offering a long-term avenue for a resolution to this. Bill Shorten has already ruled out doing anything over the long-term.
NATHAN MORRIS: Hmm that is rubbish. We will not have it in this state.
SHAUN MCMANUS: You tread carefully Mister.
MATHIAS CORMANN: All right.
NATALIE LOCKE: All right. We are a bit disappointed with the outcome of the burger conversation but other than that we really appreciate the chat this morning. Thanks Mathias.
MATHIAS CORMANN: No worries. Talk soon.