Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance and the Public Service
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
QUESTION: What is on the agenda for the next two weeks?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are here to keep implementing our plan for a stronger Australia, to keep the Australian economy strong, keep Australians safe and to keep Australians together. There are a whole range of Treasury bills in particular, expected to go through the Senate this week, which are all part of our plan to build a stronger economy, to create more jobs, making sure that Australians have the best possible opportunity to get ahead.
QUESTION: You keep saying and many of your colleagues keep saying that Australians want you to get on with the job. How are you going to do that when your party is so divided?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are getting on with the job. You have to look at our record of achievement over the last five years. When we came into Government in September 2013 we inherited from the Labor government in which Bill Shorten was a senior member, a weakening economy, rising unemployment, a rapidly deteriorating budget positon. Today, the economy is stronger, the economic growth outlook is stronger, employment growth is stronger, the unemployment rate is well below what people thought it would be, the Budget is in a much stronger position. The record is there for all to see. More than a million jobs were created over the last five years. We will continue to build on that. Strengthening the economy further, bringing electricity prices down, making sure that we can sell more Australian products and services around the world, you name it. Whatever we can do to help families around Australia to get ahead, we will continue to do it.
QUESTION: You’ve taken a big whack in the polls yet again. Isn’t it just a sign that you are headed to an election loss?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The poll today is not surprising. It is early days. What it shows though is that the Prime Minister has had a very strong start. People are embracing our new Prime Minister. People want to see how things now settle moving forward. They want to see us working as a strong, united and effective Government, continuing to build on the record of achievement that we have been able to deliver over the last five years.
QUESTION: What’s the challenge for the Government though when you do consistently have a popular leader but it doesn’t lift the standing of the Coalition?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The last few weeks have been difficult weeks. Australians have marked us down for that. That is not surprising in any way shape or form. It is important now for us to get on with it. To continue to deliver, to keep the Australian economy strong, to keep Australians safe, to keep Australians together. That is what we will continue to do under the leadership of Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg.
QUESTION: What was wrong with Malcolm Turnbull?
MATHIAS CORMANN: You are looking back at events in the past. I am not going to continue to dissect these things. I have said everything that I have to say about these matters.
QUESTION: On energy, Derryn Hinch has been on TV this morning making some comments that he spent a considerable amount of time negotiating with the Government on this policy for it to only be dropped. He claims it was a waste of money and a waste of everyone’s time. And he is considering how he will negotiate with the Government in the future. Is that a concern considering you no longer have a majority in the House of Reps?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have seventy-five seats until the by-election. Labor has sixty-nine. So Labor is a fair way from a majority in the House of Representatives. What I would say is that our focus is on bringing electricity prices down. I suspect that Senator Hinch’s constituents, the same as our constituents want to see the Government and the Parliament do everything we can to bring down electricity prices. That is what we are focused on, bringing down electricity prices, improving reliability of our energy supplies. That is very much in the public interest.
QUESTION: Have you spoken to Lucy Gichuhi about her threatening to name names of potential bullies?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I talk to all of my colleagues on a regular basis. I certainly had a conversation with Senator Gichuhi over the last week or so. She is a highly valued friend and colleague. I look forward to working with her for a long time to come.
QUESTION: Just really quickly, you have lost a majority in the House of Representatives because of Malcolm Turnbull’s departure are you at all concerned about any potential stunts that Labor may pull this week?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Labor party always pull stunts. As I say, the Labor party is quite a long way away from a majority themselves. At seventy-five seats in the House of Representatives with only 149 incumbent members in the House of Representatives at present, that actually still is a majority. Seventy-five out of 149 when I last looked is actually still a majority. Not sure about some people’s maths.
QUESTION: And do you think you can win the election under Scott Morrison, and is he more popular than Malcolm Turnbull? You’ve had two weeks to speak to some of your constituents. What is the feedback you are getting?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Scott Morrison has had an outstanding start as our Prime Minister. People are embracing him. People clearly want to see more of what we have to say and what we are going to do to keep Australia strong, to keep the economy strong, keep Australians safe and keep Australians together. That is what they will see over the next few weeks. We made a judgement that under Scott Morrison’s leadership and under the joint leadership of Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg we were in the best position to win the next election. We were in the best position to provide strong, united and effective Government into the future.
QUESTION: Have you spoken to Malcolm Turnbull?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Not since the events of a fortnight ago.