Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
BEN FORDHAM: Let us get to Mathias Cormann, the Minister for Finance. I reckon this bloke must wake up some mornings and think “how the hell do I get out of bed”. Pauline Hanson well, she just keeps on changing her mind when it comes to company tax cuts. I have gone through some of the flipping and flopping, I reckon she could be the face of Havianas, the thong company because she is a flipper and a flopper in a major way when it comes to company tax cuts. She was against them back in 2017, she changed her mind and get on board, then in late 2017 she was back in the no camp. February she then decided she was open to it again, a few weeks later she was in the no camp again, a few weeks after that she was back on board. Tuesday last week she pulled the plug and she was against, on Thursday she said her door was still open. Over the weekend she went cold again and now today she is saying “ring my office and tell me what you think”. Spare a thought for the poor old Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, whose head must be spinning. He joins us from our Canberra Studio. Mathias Cormann, good afternoon.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good afternoon. Good to be here.
BEN FORDHAM: How do you keep up with Pauline?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I have a very positive and constructive working relationship with Pauline Hanson and her One Nation team. The truth is and the reality is, that whenever Labor and the Greens decide to oppose important economic reform pursued by the Government then I have no choice but to secure the support of One Nation among others. If One Nation is opposed as well as Labor and the Greens, we do not get our legislation through the Senate. I just have to keep working…interrupted
BEN FORDHAM: You did secure their support? Didn’t you via a handshake with Pauline Hanson?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well that is a matter of public record. We engaged in a very detailed and constructive conversation over an extended period of time and we were pleased that we were able to convince her and her team to support those business tax cuts in full. She gave us public and private commitments to that effect. That is a matter of public record indeed.
BEN FORDHAM: She is now saying “call my office so you can tell me what you think”. This must be frustrating for you, I know you try and put on a brave face Minister, but when you have a deal, you have a deal and for someone to go back on the deal and then decide, no I might be back on board and then say no I am cold again and then say, no the door is open, then say, call my office. How do you keep up with all of that? Can’t you just lock her down and say “Pauline you need to make a decision, you need to get on boar”?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have a responsibility to all Australians to give this our absolute best shot. As I have said in a number of interviews earlier today, nine out of ten working Australians work for a private sector business and their future job opportunities, their future job security, their future wage increases, depend on the future success and profitability of the businesses that employ those nine out of ten working Australians. If we continue to put businesses in Australia at a competitive disadvantage with businesses in other parts of the world who will pay substantially less tax, then the people that we are putting at a disadvantage are those nine out ten working Australians who work for those private sector businesses. It is because we are so focused on making sure that Australians today and into the future have the best possible opportunity to get ahead that we are so focused on making sure that the businesses that employ them have the best possible opportunity to be successful and profitable into the future.
BEN FORDHAM: Okay, so the Newspoll today suggests 63 per cent of people think company tax cuts should be introduced either immediately or over the next ten years as planned. They did not ask the question, do you think they should be introduced at all because you might not get such a positive response if you ask that question, right?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Those people that are opposed to the question are opposed to company tax cuts. If I may say to all of your listeners, it is in every working Australians interest that those business tax cuts succeed. Australian businesses compete with businesses in other parts of the world, whether it is import competition or whether it is competition into export markets, or whether it is competition to attract capital. In the end, if we put Australian businesses at a competitive disadvantage, if we put more lead into the saddle bag of businesses here in Australia than the lead that is in the saddle bag of businesses in other parts of the world, the people that will get harmed are people who work in those businesses. A more successful business will hire more Australians than they otherwise would. A less successful business will hire fewer Australians than they otherwise would. Now fewer Australians hired by businesses around Australia means higher unemployment, as there is less competition for workers, that means lower wages. If more businesses are more successful and are hiring more people than they otherwise would, more competition for workers is the key ingredient that drives up wages over time. The reason we need to ensure that businesses around Australia have the best possible opportunity to be successful, is so they can continue to grow, so they continue to hire more people than they otherwise would, they continue to hire more Australians and over time be required to pay them higher wages because there is lower unemployment.
BEN FORDHAM: We are speaking to Mathias Cormann, the Minister for Finance, he is joining us from our Parliament House studios in Canberra. Bill Shorten is now officially the most unpopular Opposition leader in recorded history Mathias Cormann. 66 consecutive polls with a negative satisfaction rating that is the worst run since 1985 when records began so who should step up here? Albo or Tanya?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well I am not going to give advice to the Labor Party, but let me just say that I am not surprised at the judgement that the Australian people have formed on Bill Shorten. He is shifty, he is dishonest and people do not trust him. Just look at what he says about corporate tax cuts. He calls them an $80 billion tax giveaway to the big end of town. He knows that to be untrue. He knows that to be absolutely untrue. He gave Australians a rolled-gold guaranteed that the Labor Party’s vetting processes of their candidates were magnificent and absolutely fool-proof. That was not worth the paper that it was written on. That comes on top of his dishonest campaign in relation to Medicare at a time when he knew that under the Coalition bulk billing rates for patients visiting GP’s were at record highs he was trying to scare people into believing that somehow Medicare was under threat under the Coalition, which of course it was not. There is a pattern of dishonesty, of shiftiness, of pursuing a politically self-interested agenda instead of focusing on the best interests of people around Australia. I think the chicken are coming home to roost and I think that Bill Shorten is essentially seeing the consequence of four and a half years of misleading the Australian people.
BEN FORDHAM: Let me ask you about Barnaby Joyce, he is going to be doing an interview with his partner Vikki Campion on Channel 7. They are going to be paid $150,000 apparently for the interview. When you are a Member of Parliament, when you have been elected by the people, when you are being paid by the taxpayer and you get caught up in some scandal, surely it is not right to then go and sell the story about the ins and the outs, the behind the scenes of that scandal and the profit from it?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Look I’m not a commentator on my colleagues…interrupted
BEN FORDHAM: You are happy to comment on Bill Shorten so let us comment on Barnaby.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Bill Shorten wants to become Prime Minister of Australia. Barnaby Joyce is a backbencher. Bill Shorten wants to be Prime Minister of Australia and I am involved in a competition with him where the Australian people will either choose Malcolm Turnbull to continue to implement our plan for a stronger economy, more jobs and higher wages over time or they will choose Bill Shorten, who will pursue a socialist, anti-business, anti-opportunity, anti-aspiration, politics-of-envy agenda, which would make Australia poorer and which would make all Australians poorer.
BEN FORDHAM: Do you think it is a bad look for Barnaby Joyce to be taking $150,000 from Channel 7?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I will let Barnaby explain that for himself. It is not something that I would have done, but it is a matter for him.
BEN FORDHAM: We appreciate your time.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you.