Sky News – AM Agenda

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






2018-19 Budget

KIERAN GILBERT: The cost of Labor’s plan $5.5 billion, $52 billion over ten years. But that is a much less than what the Government’s numbers suggest. Mathias Cormann the Finance Minister says Labor’s numbers don’t add up. I spoke to the Finance Minister earlier.

MATHIAS CORMANN: Bill Shorten’s numbers do not add up. He is spending the money several times over. Just remember, when Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen last were in government, they left behind a weakening economy, rising unemployment and a budget position that was rapidly deteriorating. That is because they do not know how to manage the economy. They do not know how to manage a budget.

KIERAN GILBERT: But you say that they don’t add up. Their argument is, their costing is just $5.5 billion, yours is over $13 billion. The reason why theirs is not as much is they are using your first phase as the starting point, because they agree with it, so they are actually saying, okay we agree with that this is the additional cost.

MATHIAS CORMANN: They have not released any detail. No plan. No costings. They are spending the same money several times over. You have to remember, Bill Shorten has a track record now, a persistent track record as a liar. Bill Shorten lies. At the last election, he lied about Medicare, frightening people around Australia at a time he knew that bulk billing rates for patients were at record highs under the Coalition. He lied about the citizenship status of his MPs at a time when he knew that he had dual citizens on his team, sitting in Parliament in breach of the Constitution. He continues to lie about the effect of our company tax cuts, calling them a tax giveaway to the big end of town, multinationals and banks, at a time when he knows that nearly half of those tax cuts are benefitting small and medium sized businesses. People cannot trust Bill Shorten. I have never seen anyone who is so shameless, so deliberate and so persistent in lying to the Australian people, misleading the Australian people.

KIERAN GILBERT: You say they have not provided their numbers. They have said it will cost $52 billion across the decade. So they have not only give the forward estimate number, they have given the ten year number. You might disagree with them, but they have been upfront with them.

MATHIAS CORMANN: Bill Shorten so far has announced tax hikes to the tune of more than $200 billion. $200 billion in additional taxes on electricity, on small and family business, on income, on investment, on housing, on retirees. That will hurt the economy. It will hurt families. It will cost jobs. He has spent much of that money several times over. Remember at the last election, Bill Shorten went to the election after raising all of that additional tax with $16.5 billion in higher deficits. People cannot trust Bill Shorten with our economy. People cannot trust Bill Shorten with our Budget.

KIERAN GILBERT: If you look at comparisons though, if you are $80,000, under the Shorten plan, you get $928 rebate. Under your plan you get $530. How do you win those people over?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Under the Shorten plan, supposedly, under his dishonest plan that he put out yesterday there is no incentive for people to work harder. There is no incentive for people to be the best they can be. There is no incentive at all. There is no reward for effort, no encouragement for people to earn more, so that they can contribute more to the economic success of our country into the future. Bill Shorten is running on a politics of envy dishonest platform, which would make Australia poorer, which would make every Australian poorer.

KIERAN GILBERT: What do you say to a teacher though who is on an income where they are going to get $928 from Bill Shorten. He referred to that example last night. Yours, they will be getting $400 less. How do you win them over?

MATHIAS CORMANN: His numbers do not add up. He cannot pay for it. Our plan is affordable, it is responsible it is part of a long term plan for a stronger economy. It is part of a long term plan for the economy that also will help ensure that we guarantee funding for all of the essential services Australians rely on. 

KIERAN GILBERT: You might not agree with his numbers, but the fact is he has got a potent message when you combine that with twenty new MRI machines as well. The TAFE courses.

MATHIAS CORMANN: His numbers do not up. His numbers do not add up.

KIERAN GILBERT: But it is a popular message.

MATHIAS CORMANN: He is a dishonest populist. That is true. But I just remind the Australian people. When Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen lost government in 2013, they left behind a weakening economy, rising unemployment and a budget position that was rapidly deteriorating. It is because of things like he did yesterday putting forward a list of tax hikes, putting forward a list of spending promises that do not add up, that are not properly funded. That is how he went to the last election with $16.5 billion in higher deficits, which would have put our AAA credit rating at risk, which would have put the opportunity for our children and grandchildren in Australia in the future at risk. We want Australians today and into the future to have the best possible opportunity to get ahead. That is why we have a long term plan for a stronger economy and more jobs. Labor does not have a plan for the economy and jobs.

KIERAN GILBERT: What do you say to the critics of your tax plan that argue that it is too heavily weighted to benefit high income earners once the full seven year package is delivered.

MATHIAS CORMANN: It is not true. Once the full seven year package is delivered, somebody on $30,000 a year would have received an 8.3 per cent tax cut every year. In the first four years, somebody on $200,000 who pays $67,000 worth of tax incidentally, would have received a 0.2 per cent tax cut a year. Even at the end of seven years, they still only get a 2.5 per cent tax cut a year. The top 20 per cent of income tax payers in Australia would still be paying more than 60 per cent of the income tax revenue generated by the Government. This proposition that our proposal is unfair is wrong. But it is part of a plan designed to encourage and reward working Australians to work harder, to earn more, to stretch themselves because we know that that is a very important ingredient to guarantee our future economic prosperity and success.

KIERAN GILBERT: With bracket creep, is it true that once your package is fully delivered, that top rate capture tens of thousands more workers anyway, so that is the reality.

MATHIAS CORMANN: Our plan helps low to middle-income earners in the first instance deal with cost of living pressures. It helps to address bracket creep, which is a drag on economic growth. Bill Shorten is doing nothing about bracket creep. This just shows the dishonesty of the man. Before he was in Parliament, he was arguing for fewer tax brackets. He was arguing for the removal of a tax bracket. He was arguing for higher income earners to pay a lower top marginal tax rate. We know what he used to believe. He is just running a blatant dishonest, populist, political agenda based on the politics of envy, which would make Australia poorer. It is not in our interest as a country to go down the Bill Shorten path.

KIERAN GILBERT: We are going to have a very clear test of all of this in an electoral sense aren’t we with a super Saturday of by-elections looming. So we will know very quickly how potent your economy message is. Are you comfortable with the basis upon which you are going to be seeking to be re-elected in those various seats?

MATHIAS CORMANN: The by-elections are all but one in Labor seats and the other is an independent seat … interrupted

KIERAN GILBERT: Can you win any of them do you think?

MATHIAS CORMANN: We will see. The Liberal Party organisation will make decisions on what our approach to these various seats is going to be. Let us just remember, the reason we are having by-elections is because Bill Shorten lied to the Australian people for months about the citizenship status of his MPs. We are going to an election because Bill Shorten provided a rolled gold guarantee to the Australian people that their vetting processes were supposedly magnificent. That rolled gold guarantee was not worth the paper it was written on. Like the rolled gold guarantee to Julia Gillard that she had his 100 per cent support was not worth the paper that it was written on. Like the rolled gold guarantee by Bill Shorten to Australian workers that he supported company tax cuts to ensure that Australian workers were not disadvantaged compared to workers in other parts of the world, whose employers pay less tax was not worth the paper it was written on. Bill Shorten used to tell working families around Australia that he was for more jobs and that he supported business tax cuts for all businesses because he knew it would lead to more investment, more jobs and higher wages. He lied, was not worth the paper it was written on.

KIERAN GILBERT: Look at these seats though, Mayo has been held by Rebekha Sharkie, the NXT Member. The Libs should fancy their chances there shouldn’t you, with a candidate like Georgina Downer or even Longman where Wyatt Roy held the seat up until very recently.

MATHIAS CORMANN: I can assure you, that every seat that we will contest, we will give it our absolute best to win over the trust and the confidence of a majority of people in those seats. Of course we will. But it is going to be a matter for the Liberal party organisation in the first instance to make judgements on our approach in those various seats.

KIERAN GILBERT: Finally, before the next general election, is there still enough wiggle room here to provide any further substantial commitments, because obviously in an election campaign, you want to win it, you need to spend some money there.

MATHIAS CORMANN: We have a long term plan for the economy, for stronger growth, for more jobs and to help ensure that the essential services Australians rely on can be sustainably funded within our Budget. That plan is updated on a regular basis at each Budget and Budget update. There will be another Budget update before the next election. What I would say to the Australian people is that we have turned a corner on Labor’s debt and deficit disaster, which they left behind. This is not the time to change direction. Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen, left our economy in a weakening state, left our Budget in a deteriorating position. Do not give them back the keys, because clearly, by last night’s speech, Bill Shorten has not learned from Labor’s mistakes of the past. He would take us back to where we were in 2013, a weakening economy, rising unemployment and a Budget position that is rapidly deteriorating.

KIERAN GILBERT: Leader of the Government in the Senate, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, as always thanks.

MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you.


Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance, Perth