Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
QUESTION: Regarding the tax cut package, how are your negotiations going in the Senate?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The income tax cuts passed the House Representatives last night. They will come into the Senate on Thursday. We will be asking the Senate to pass them in full. If the Senate were to amend our plan for lower income taxes for all working Australians in any way, we will be sending it back to the House of Representatives where any such amendments would be rejected. Then the question for the Labor party at the end of that process would be whether they want to stand in the way of tax refunds of up to $1080 for millions of Australians, which could start from next week.
QUESTION: Senator, do you believe you have locked Jacqui Lambie in to voting for the tax cuts?
MATHIAS CORMANN: This is the question for the Labor party. Does Anthony Albanese and Jim Chalmers want to stand in the way of income tax cuts and tax refunds which could flow to millions of Australians from next week. Or is he going to accept and respect the verdict of the Australian people at the last election. Australians voted for lower income taxes at the last election. Australians voted for lower income taxes for all working Australians. They voted against Labor’s high-taxing agenda and against Labor's politics of envy. They have lost the argument. It is time for Labor to accept, respect and act on the verdict of the Australian people.
QUESTION: With respect, that was a question about Jacqui Lambie. How are negotiations going with her?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I do not ever provide running commentaries on the views of individual Senators. I will let Jacqui Lambie and Centre Alliance and all the other Senators talk for themselves. But here is the very simple point. These income tax cuts will pass the Senate very swiftly if the Labor Party accepts, respects and acts on the verdict of the Australian people at the last election. The Australian people voted for lower income taxes because they understand that that will help us build a stronger economy into the future, because they understand that that will help us create more jobs into the future. They voted against Labor's high taxing, politics of envy agenda because Australians understand that would make our economy weaker and would make Australians poorer.
QUESTION: Has the crossbench indicated that they will amend the tax cuts as you put them to them?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Again, I am not going to speculate. I am not going to commentate on the views of individual Senate colleagues. What I am saying is that the Government's plan is very clear. It is a plan that we took to the last election. It is the plan we promised to the Australian people we would deliver. It is a plan that the House of Representatives passed yesterday. It is also the plan that if the Senate makes any amendment to it whatsoever, those amendments would be rejected in the House of Representatives. The Senate ultimately would have to make a decision on, yes or no, whether they would vote in favour or against our plan for lower income taxes for all working Australians in full.
QUESTION: Senator, the RBA have cut rates to one per cent. That is not because the economy is on track is it?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The RBA has made its judgements independently, reviewing all of the economic data. That is their job. As we have said in the lead up to the election, quite candidly, our economy is facing global economic headwinds. Our economy is facing downside risks, which is another reason why the Senate must vote in favour of our plan for lower income taxes for all working Australians by the end of this week.
QUESTION: Senator, the RBA Governor says the Government needs to do more to stimulate the economy. Would you consider lifting Newstart as a way of doing that?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Government is doing more. We delivered a Budget on 2 April. On 2 April, we announced $158 billion worth of income tax cuts, on top of $144 billion worth of income tax cuts which we legislated last year. So over the last two financial years we have put forward more than $300 billion worth of income tax cuts. We put forward about $100 billion worth of infrastructure investment. We have provided record funding for hospitals and schools and a whole range of other essential services. We do not have any plans to make the sorts of adjustments that you are speculating on there. In the lead up to every Budget and Budget update across the whole of the Government, the Government continues to make judgements on all policy areas.
QUESTION: Senator do you believe the gas reservation policy in your home state of WA has worked? And would it work federally?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Again, in Western Australia, that is a State Government policy. State governments of both political persuasions have supported a level of gas reservation ever since the original projects came on stream in the mid 1980s. It has worked well in Western Australia. I am not going to start speculating on matters that are completely outside my portfolio more broadly. Except to say that our Government has been very focussed on bringing electricity prices down, including by boosting the supply of gas into the domestic market. We have pursued a number of reforms in recent years that have had the effect of boosting gas supply into the domestic market. The Government always looks at ways to further bring down electricity prices through sensible measures.
QUESTION: So sorry, just to come back to that. Centre Alliance have made a gas reservation policy a condition of their support for tax cuts, which was the reason for that question obviously. Have you spoken with them about it?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Again, I do not talk for other Senate colleagues. I do not provide a running commentary on my conversations with Senate colleagues. What I can say is that we have put forward a plan for lower income taxes for all working Australians, consistent with what we promised to the Australian people. We call on Senators to support that plan, which was endorsed by the Australian people. That is all there really is to it.