Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
Date: Tuesday, 17 March 2020
NATALIE BARR: Coronavirus is continuing to impact world financial markets. Wall Street was forced into a third trading halt overnight as the Dow Jones tumbled. It follows another slump on our market yesterday, with the Federal Government now working on a second coronavirus stimulus package to help the Australian economy.
For more, I’m joined by Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. Morning to you.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good morning.
NATALIE BARR: That first stimulus of course announced last Thursday. How soon could round two be unveiled?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The situation has continued to evolve rapidly, so our response has to evolve as well. We have had a round of meetings chaired by the Prime Minister yesterday. We will have the Expenditure Review Committee, Cabinet and the National Security Committee meeting today. We are working as fast as we can. The Parliament is due to sit next week and that is when we want to legislate the augmented package, which we are currently working to finalise.
NATALIE BARR: Because Minister if you don’t work for a big company in Australia full-time, if you are a small business owner, if you are a freelancer, if you work in the gig economy, people are worried about paying their mortgage, their loans, their power bills. This is huge for most Australians.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Absolutely. We are focused on supporting those businesses and those workers most affected by the downturn as a result of the coronavirus. We are very conscious of the challenges out there. Businesses will close, people will lose their jobs and we are very, very focused on making sure that we provide the necessary support now through the transition, but also to ensure we have the strongest possible bounce back on the other side of this period.
NATALIE BARR: Because we have just heard France is spending taxes, rent household bills. What options realistically are you looking at to help people day to day, you know next week, next month?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are working through all of that at the moment. We are looking at some pretty significant options that we would never have considered in the past. We are working our way through that as we speak and we will be making announcements as soon as we can.
NATALIE BARR: The tourism industry struggling as a result of these travel bans. Qantas we’re hearing are grounding three quarters of their international fleet. What could you be doing there?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The tourism and hospitality sector are very much on the front line. There are other sectors severely impacted, but by the same token, supermarkets are doing extremely well and there might be opportunities to job swap from areas that are badly impacted into areas where there is actually significant demand as we speak right now.
NATALIE BARR: Okay, good luck. It is a big job ahead, Minister. Thanks for your time.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you.