Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance and the Public Service
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
RAY HADLEY: Mathias Cormann is the Minister for Finance. He is on the line. Senator, good morning.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good morning Ray.
RAY HADLEY: Would it be fair to encapsulate this as a Budget designed for an election victory?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is a Budget to make Australia stronger and to help ensure families around Australia have the best possible opportunity to get ahead. It builds on the work we have done in our previous five Budgets.
RAY HADLEY: You have ticked as many election boxes as you can, even allowing for what you have said. We have got low to middle income earners, young people, seniors, women, small business owners. I guess you are rather anxious about how this is going to be received by my listeners and the public generally.
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have tried very hard to do the best job we can. When we came into government the economy was weakening, unemployment was rising and the Budget position was rapidly deteriorating to the point where the previous Government was not able to pay for some of the key essential services that Australians rely on, such as affordable access to high quality medicines. We have been able to turn that situation around. The economy is stronger, employment growth is stronger, the unemployment rate is lower, the Budget now is on a stronger and improving trajectory and we are able to invest in in all of these essential services on a fiscally sustainable basis.
RAY HADLEY: I mentioned pensioners to get a one-of payment to help pay energy bills. It is $75 for singles, $125 for couples, but this is a really important debate, energy. I mean yes it is good that there are tax cuts, it is good that we front things being cheaper in some respects, but energy is just going up and up and up. I know Angus Taylor is working on it, but we need I think between now and the election, Minister, some sort of difference between you and the Opposition in relation to energy. Are we going to get that?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Well there is a big difference. Under Bill Shorten and the Labor Party energy prices will go up. They are pursuing a 45 per cent emissions reduction target. They will bring back the Carbon Tax. They will drive up electricity prices and they will increase the cost of living for families around Australia. We are focused on increasing energy supplies so that prices can come down. We are focused on making sure that the market operates better so that customers get a better deal and that is something that Angus Taylor is working on very hard.
RAY HADLEY: Now, one of the big things that has really hit home with my listeners in the last three days is this announcement by Bill Shorten about electric cars. Half of new electric cars by 2030, being or half of new cars by 2030 being electric and people cannot believe, many business people cannot believe that he would be so silly to make a statement. The problem for you is that in January 2018 when he was Environment Minister, it appears to me reading an opinion piece by Josh Frydenberg, he seemed to agree with Mr Shorten on many fronts about these electric cars?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The thing is people can have a view that it might be desirable for there to be an increased utilisation of electric cars. That does not mean that the Government should be putting such firm targets and requirements in place. We certainly do not think that the way Bill Shorten has framed it is a responsible way to do it.
RAY HADLEY: Okay. Michael Daley, the Opposition Leader in New South Wales, stumbled in the last week and capitulated and as a result, Gladys Berejiklian is returned against all the odds. They were outsiders about three months ago but she won and she has got a majority on her own in the Lower House. Are you taking some comfort from the performance of Mr Daley and hoping that you see a similar performance from Mr Shorten and his colleagues?
MATHIAS CORMANN: At the next election the Australian people will have a choice between our team, led by Scott Morrison, which is working to make the economy stronger, to make our country stronger, to deliver more jobs and on the back of lower unemployment, stronger wages growth. The alternative, Bill Shorten, who is pursuing a high-taxing, anti-business, class warfare agenda, which will make the economy weaker, the country weaker and which would make Australians poorer. Now that is the choice that Australians have in front of them. We believe that overwhelmingly Australians are aspirational. They want the best for their families. They want the best in terms of opportunities to get ahead and we believe that that is something that we can offer and that is definitely not what Bill Shorten is offering. So we submit ourselves to the judgment of the Australian people, but we do believe that there is opportunity for us to win the trust and the confidence of the Australian people again.
RAY HADLEY: Are you hopeful or confident that the electorate will respond to the Budget announced last night by the time you make a decision on when you will go to the polls?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Look, we have put our best foot forward. It is our sixth Budget. It builds on the hard work that was done in previous Budgets. We believe that this is the plan Australia needs to make our economy stronger and to create the best possible opportunities for families to get ahead, but ultimately it is going to be a judgment to make for the Australian people.
RAY HADLEY: Appreciate your time, good luck. Thanks very much.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you Ray.