Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
QUESTION: Welcome back. Big agenda. What’s on the top of your list?
MATHIAS CORMANN: This week we want to deliver income tax relief for all working Australians, prioritising low and middle income earners. We want to put more money into workers pockets and help create more jobs by stimulating the economy. We call on the Labor party to facilitate efficient consideration of our income tax bill, not just through the House of Representatives, but also in the Senate.
QUESTION: Are you now confident that you have the numbers in the Senate to get this through by the end of this week?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I never publicly speculate. I never take anything for granted. We will continue to make the case, endorsed by the Australian people, that income tax relief is in our national interest. It is in the interest of working families and it is in the interest of our economy.
QUESTION: Centre Alliance seems to indicate it’s on board. Cory Bernardi is on board. Really you only need one more. Surely that’s it?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not going to publicly speculate. We would like to see all non-Government Senators respect the verdict of the Australian people. Australians voted in favour of income tax relief for all working Australians. They voted against Labor’s high taxing politics of envy agenda. This week is a week for Anthony Albanese to demonstrate that he has listened and learned, that he accepts and respects the verdict of the Australian people at the last election.
QUESTION: Labor is asking for that third stage to be delayed. Are you likely to push ahead with your scenario as it is? Will there be any changes to it?
MATHIAS CORMANN: No, there will be no changes. We have been consistent all the way through. We will not split the income tax relief package. It is a plan that we put to the Australian people. It is a plan that was endorsed by the Australian people. It is a plan that is in our national interest.
QUESTION: You were at the G20 last week and at the dinner with President Donald Trump. What did you make of him stepping across the demilitarised marker into North Korea yesterday.
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is a significant event. President Trump is clearly very focused on seeking to make progress in relation to what has been a very difficult issue in a geo-political context. We support the President’s efforts.
QUESTION: Did he take with him a message to the Australian people about Alek Sigley? Or the Australian Government about Alek Sigley?
MATHIAS CORMANN: As the Prime Minister indicated yesterday, we are very focused on doing what we can to ensure that he is safe and safely returned to Australia. It will not be helped by us providing a running commentary on our efforts. So we will continue to quietly continue to work away to ensure his safe return to Australia.
QUESTION: And would that include using the assistance of allies like the United States?
MATHIAS CORMANN: As indicated, we will work with all and everyone that can help us secure the safe return of Alek to Australia, but we will not be providing a running commentary on these things.
QUESTION: But have you had any feedback in the last twenty four hours as to whether …
MATHIAS CORMANN: I have got nothing further to add. I do not have any further information that I can share with you.
QUESTION: It was well documented the events of the leadership spill in now a number of books and also the televised documentary that you took part in. How much did that week affect you personally?
MATHIAS CORMANN: These are events well in the past now. At the time I certainly know for myself that I was only guided by one thing and that was to make the right decisions based on what I felt was right for the country, for the Government and for Liberal party. It was a difficult week. I wish that week had never happened. But we had to make judgements at the time. I don’t think there is anything further I can add to the extensive commentary that I have already made in the past.
QUESTION: You are now back here as a Government Senator. Does the result of May 18 change the way how you view that week in August?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It was a difficult week. We had to make difficult judgements about the best way forward. We made those judgements. In the end at the election the Australian people endorsed our plan and our choice of Prime Minister.
QUESTION: After the income tax cuts, what’s next on the Government’s agenda. That was effectively what you solely campaigned on. What’s left?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have a very extensive agenda. We will be delivering on our record funding for hospitals and schools and infrastructure. We will be seeking to legislate our drought future fund to ensure that we can help build better resilience across our rural and regional communities in relation to the drought. We will be delivering on our very ambitious agenda to deal with the scourge of suicide across Australia. We have a very extensive agenda that we will continue to roll out over the weeks and months ahead.
QUESTION: You canvased that you would repeal the medivac legislation. Will that happen shortly?
MATHIAS CORMANN: That is what we intend to do, yes.
QUESTION: This week?
MATHIAS CORMANN: This is a short week. This is a week when we have the opening of Parliament. Also a whole day in relation to the condolence motion for our former distinguished Prime Minister Bob Hawke. We have only one day of business in the Senate. I suspect that in the Senate that will be taken up with legislating income tax relief. But it will happen soon.
QUESTION: It will be a late night Thursday then?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not going to make any predictions.
QUESTION: Just on the tax cuts sorry, on the very worst case scenario where you don’t have the support of Labor or four crossbenchers, what is plan B?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are working on securing passage of our plan for income tax relief for all working Australians, which is a plan that was endorsed by the Australian people at the last election. We call on all non-Government Senators, in particular the Labor party, to accept and respect the verdict of the Australian people at the last election. The Australian people voted in favour of income tax relief for all working Australians, because they understood that that was important for jobs and our economy and they voted against Labor’s high taxing politics of envy agenda, because they understood that would have made our economy weaker, put jobs at risk and left all Australians worse off. We call on the Labor party to accept and respect the verdict of the Australian people.