Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
QUESTION: Busy week and fortnight ahead for you. How confident are you that both your tax programs will get through by the end of next week?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We do not take anything for granted. We believe it is very important for families around Australia that both our proposed income tax relief for working families is legislated this week and that our proposed business tax cuts for all businesses in Australia are legislated in full. The reason that we want to see our business tax cuts legislated is because we understand that if we want Australians today and into the future to have the best possible opportunity to get a well-paid job, to develop a career in Australia, to get stronger wage increases into the future, we need to ensure that the businesses that employ them and pay their wages have the best possible opportunity to be successful and profitable into the future. If we impose higher taxes on businesses in Australia, when countries around the world are significantly lowering their taxes, then keeping taxes high here puts business here at a disadvantage to businesses in other parts of the world. Putting businesses here at a disadvantage with businesses in other parts of the world puts workers here at a disadvantage with workers in other parts of the world. Our policy to lower the corporate tax rate is a policy to lower taxes on jobs, because we want to see stronger growth, more jobs and higher wages over time.
QUESTION: How prepared are you? How much wiggle room have you got? Are you prepared to split the bill for instance?
MATHIAS CORMANN: No. We have been very clear. Neither Bill will be split. We will not be splitting them. We will not be supporting any amendment to split our Bills to provide income tax relief to hard working families. We will not be supporting any amendment to split the company tax cut bill any further. We believe that it is very important to provide income tax relief to all working families around Australia. Yes, prioritising low and middle income earners in the first instance, but also addressing bracket creep for all working Australians. We do not want to see middle income Australians pushed into higher and higher tax brackets. This week, the Australian people will find out who in the Parliament stands for income tax relief for low and middle income earners and all working Australians and who wants to continue to keep taxes on Australian workers high.
QUESTION: Is it fair to say though that you feel more confident trying to get the income tax through than you do the company tax cuts.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I will leave the commentary to you. We are committed to, we are very focused on securing the passage of both of these very important tax reform pieces of legislation. We are working to secure the passage of both of these Bills over this fortnight.
QUESTION: When could that be? Are you expected to put a vote to the Senate this week?
MATHIAS CORMANN: In relation to personal income tax cuts, it is certainly our aspiration to see that Bill dealt with this week, so that we can deal with business tax cuts next week. The Government does not have the numbers in the Senate. So we are not entirely in charge of our destiny in terms of how long these debates will take. The important thing though is, the debate will start early this week, hopefully today. We are keen to see the Bill in relation to income tax relief for working Australians dealt with this week.
QUESTION: Last time it was Tim Storer who didn’t quite come through at the last moment. Are you confident you may be able to get him over the line this time around?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not going to provide commentary on individual crossbench Senators. I think it is appropriate for individual crossbench Senators to be allowed to make their own statements about their position. All I can say is that the Government’s position is that we believe these are very important Bills for the future economic prosperity across Australia, for the future opportunity of Australian families to get ahead, for the future opportunity of Australians today and into the future to get a better job, a well-paid job and to secure higher wages over time. We will continue to press ahead. We will continue to work to persuade the necessary eight crossbench Senators to support us.
QUESTION: Who is going to be the most difficult to convince?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I do not provide that sort of commentary. I continue to work with all of those crossbench Senators who are prepared to work with me in order to advance the public interest.
QUESTION: But you know now who is most difficult to deal with by this stage.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I enjoy engaging with all of my crossbench Senate colleagues. We engage with our crossbench colleagues with courtesy and respect. I am very keen to continue to engage with all of those crossbench Senators who are happy to continue to engage with me.
QUESTION: Just one final one Senator, one of the crossbench Senators could be a Clive Palmer United Australia Party member by the end of the day. How does that change the Government’s negotiations?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We focus on the things that are within our sphere of influence. I have read the same reports. It is not something that I have, or that the Government has, any control over. One way or the other, we will just have to deal with the cards as they fall.