Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
LAURA JAYES: Joining us now is the Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and you have a deal?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are pleased that we have been able to secure the necessary support in the Senate to pass our income tax relief plan, which is good news for millions of hard-working Australians. It is good that the Government is in a position to keep faith with the Australian people to deliver on what was a central election commitment. That means more money into the pockets of hard working Australians. It will mean more jobs, because it will stimulate the economy.
LAURA JAYES: How did you get Jacqui Lambie over the line?
MATHIAS CORMANN: While the Labor party has been playing political games to the point they were moving amendments to change the title of the bill, Senator Lambie, Senator Patrick and Senator Griff were working with the Government through our income tax package. We were seeking to persuade them of the importance, the economic importance and fiscal responsibility of our package. As we have said, we are always prepared to talk to our Senate colleagues about policy issues of concern to them and to their constituents. That is what we have been doing.
LAURA JAYES: Did Jacqui Lamble have a convincing argument when it came to the $157 million in social housing debt that Tasmania owes the Commonwealth?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Millions of Australians today are very grateful to Senators Patrick, Griff and to Senator Lambie for offering their support for income tax relief and for more money in their pocket. On behalf of millions of Australians, the Government is very grateful … interrupted
LAURA JAYES: Sorry to interrupt. Was there any kind of undertaking?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I know what you are keen on. But as we have always said, we are always prepared to talk about policy issues of concern to our crossbench Senate colleagues. But all of these decisions have to be made on their own merit. We have agreed with those crossbench colleagues to continue to work with them through those issues. In relation to energy prices for example, the Government has a long-standing commitment, which is well documented, to bring energy prices down. We have a whole range of measures, including to bring more domestic gas into the electricity market, which have previously been announced. We have had a lot of very good discussions. I think we have an understanding about the way forward. There will be announcements in the future when all of the relevant final decisions have been made.
LAURA JAYES: Okay, so you’re openly considering the request from Jacqui Lambie?
MATHIAS CORMANN: What we have said is that we are always prepared to work in good faith with our crossbench colleagues in response to issues they have… interrupted
LAURA JAYES: Do you think it’s a reasonable request from her?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not going to provide any running commentary. She can talk for herself. She has certainly been a very forceful advocate … interrupted
LAURA JAYES: Do you think she thinks she has got a deal?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Senator Lambie has been a very forceful advocate. Today millions of Australians are very grateful that she will help ensure that they can get more money into their pocket as of next week. She has raised issues with us. We are very happy to work through these issues with her. When we are in a position to make further announcements down the track we will.
LAURA JAYES: So, you’re still sticking to your no deals? No horse trading?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Today is about tax cuts. Any other issues raised with us have always got to be assessed and determined on their own merit.
LAURA JAYES: There’s no shingles being hung out? Any sweeteners?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I think that my statement stands for itself. This is very important reform for millions of Australians who will end up with more of their own money in their own pockets.
LAURA JAYES: How many people will get that money next week?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Obviously it depends on with what speed people lodge their tax return. But from the end of next week people can receive up to $1080 into their bank account or by cheque, whatever way they receive their tax refunds. Depends on the timing that people lodge their tax returns.
LAURA JAYES: Okay, Mathias Cormann, appreciate your time. See you soon.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you.