Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance and the Public Service
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
QUESTION: Minister, the energy cash handout, are you just buying the Australian public’s vote?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have worked very hard to get the Budget into a stronger position again, having inherited a weakening Budget position from Labor. We have made a judgement that this financial year, given the good Budget performance that we were able to provide cost of living pressure relief to pensioners and other welfare recipients across Australia. That is the judgement that we made.
QUESTION: The National Energy Guarantee though would have brought power bills down by about $150 a year. Was it a mistake to dump that policy?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have been working very hard to bring power prices down. Indeed, power prices have been coming down. There is more work to be done. We want to bring wholesale power prices down by another 25-30 per cent by 2021. But in the meantime, there was an opportunity and there was capacity in the Budget to help pensioners with cost of living pressure relief. We made a judgement to do so.
QUESTION: Has your electorate and others been crying out for this kind of supplement to help them with their power bills.
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are always very conscious of the fact that pensioners and other welfare recipients are doing it tough. Where there is opportunity to provide cost of living pressure relief we always look out for that opportunity to do so. We have been able to do so on this occasion.
QUESTION: Are tax cuts needed to boost the slowing economy?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We inherited a weakening economy from Labor. Today, the economy is stronger, employment growth is stronger, in large part … interrupted
QUESTION: But it is slowing down.
MATHIAS CORMANN: … in large part, that is because of our pro-growth, lower taxes agenda. We always look for opportunities to keep taxes even lower, to let Australians, hard working Australians keep more of their own money. But the detail, and what we may or may not be able to do will be in the Budget on Tuesday.
QUESTION: Can you afford extra tax cuts though? Considering you just passed $144 billion worth of income tax cuts?
MATHIAS CORMANN: You are quite right, we have passed $144 billion worth of income tax relief for hard working families through the Parliament last year. But we always look for opportunities to provide additional incentive and additional reward for effort for hard working families. All of the numbers will be in the Budget on Tuesday. People will be able to see that what we are doing is affordable, is responsible and is very important for a strong economy into the future.
QUESTION: How important is the Budget, indeed this Parliamentary week leading into the election?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Budget is always important. It is our plan for the economy and how to fund the essential services Australians rely on. Australians want to know that the Government is working to keep the economy strong, to ensure more jobs are being created and that the services they rely on are sustainably funded. That is what we are doing in this Budget. The detail will all be there on Tuesday.
QUESTION: Just finally, will you support the Greens motion to suspend Fraser Anning from the Senate?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Labor party and the Liberal and Nationals parties have initiated a bipartisan censure motion. That is what we will be pursuing. His comments were absolutely outrageous and unacceptable. The Senate, I am confident, will give very strong expression to that. Beyond that let us see what emerges in the Senate during the week.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you.