Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
DAVID KOCH: The Government has moved to stop Australians deserting My Health. The Health Minister has agreed to changes to the online medical record scheme. News Corp reports that Greg Hunt has bowed to pressure. Patients will now be protected from having their medical records accessed by police and the tax office without a court order. If somebody wishes to cancel their record, they will be able to do it permanently. The changes will be made as soon as possible. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann joins us today to talk about another controversial issue facing the Government and that’s company tax cuts. Before we get onto that Minister, the Government has listened on My Health. Are you hoping to stem the numbers opting out as a result?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is very important for the public to have confidence in the My Health Record arrangements. This is legislation which was passed in 2012 under the previous government. Greg Hunt has been consulting with the AMA and other medical bodies and has made the changes that were announced today. It is all about ensuring public confidence in what is a very important framework to facilitate better health outcomes.
DAVID KOCH: Some are saying maybe you should have consulted a lot earlier with medical authorities before putting this through anyway.
MATHIAS CORMANN: This is legislation that was passed as I said, in the period of the Gillard government. So some time ago. I can also confirm for your viewers that over the last six years no documents have been released without consent. That is certainly my advice. No documents will be released. The legislation will now be changed to put that absolutely beyond doubt.
DAVID KOCH: Okay, the Government listened on that, it is making changes. Will it listen and make changes to company tax cuts despite, you know you had blowback from these super Saturday by-election. A set back there. A lot of people saying that was because of opposition to your company tax cuts?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We want to ensure that Australians today and into the future have the best possible opportunity to get ahead and nine out of ten working Australians work for a private sector business. Their future job opportunities, job security, wage increases, depend on the future viability, competitiveness and profitability of businesses here in Australia. Having a lower, globally more competitive business tax rate is all about protecting jobs and creating more new jobs.
DAVID KOCH: Alright okay. But the critics say the big end of town are making record company profits. Corporate Australia is doing really well at the top end, and that is not translating into wage rises for workers. Derryn Hinch is saying forget the top end, forget the big banks, still push it through for smaller companies, but I will pass a legislation if you get rid of the top end of town. Will you consider that?
MATHIAS CORMANN: No. If you put a cap at which a higher company tax rate would kick in you provide a perverse incentive for bigger businesses to become smaller businesses. We want smaller businesses to become bigger businesses so they hire more Australians. As there is more competition for workers, as businesses around Australia hire more Australians wages will go up by more. If we lock in a higher business tax rate here in Australia what will happen is that we help businesses overseas compete against us, take business, jobs and investment away from us. As there are fewer jobs in Australia, the wages would actually go down. That is what we want to prevent from happening. Big businesses provide business to small and medium sized businesses. They employ many millions of Australians directly and indirectly. If bigger businesses do less well, the whole economy does less well and it puts the job security of millions of Australians at risk.
DAVID KOCH: And they are our biggest taxpayers, that is a good point. Before we let you go, virtually everyone is focusing on the plight of our farmers at the moment as they face a horrendous drought. The NSW Government, we talked to Gladys Berejiklian, the Premier yesterday about their billion dollar drought relief for farmers. What are the Feds doing?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are providing significant support to farmers that are facing the challenge of drought. But we continuously look at what else we can do. David Littleproud, the Minister for Agriculture together with the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister continue to consult and consider what else might sensibly be able to be done.
DAVID KOCH: Okay, so we might be able to expect some more help soon, hopefully. Finance Minister, thanks for joining us.