Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
Date: Monday, 23 March 2020
LAWRENCE MOONEY: Senator Mathias Cormann is the Finance Minister in the ScoMo Government, with news that pubs and clubs will be closed and everyone is being encouraged to stay at home. The hospitality industry is taking a massive blow amongst other industries of course. We heard that Qantas has laid off 20,000 of their 30,000 staff. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann joins us this morning on Moonman in the Morning. Good morning to you, Senator.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good morning.
LAWRENCE MOONEY: First of all, the Australian banks have announced that they will defer loan repayments for small business affected by the coronavirus for six months. What other ways are government and industry making sure small business won’t go bankrupt because they are just taking a beating?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are going through a very difficult period. It is going to get worse before it gets better, I hate to say. But it will get better on the other side and there will be a strong bounce back on the other side. We have announced a significant package of support for business yesterday. Minimum payments of $20,000 to all businesses up to $100,000. That will efficiently be processed through the tax system. We have also provided a guarantee for new loans up to $250,000 that can be entered into over the next six months from 1 April in order to boost their working capital. For those Australians who, sadly, through no fault of their own do lose their job, we are providing a significantly boosted job-seeker payment… interrupted
LAWRENCE MOONEY: Can I ask you there about the poor older workers, how can we be sure that business is going to pass on wages and payment to the worker? $715 million in tax concessions to Qantas and then they lay off 20,000 staff. They have got to be taking the P, don’t they?
MATHIAS CORMANN: They have 30,000 staff all up and we want to have a strong and reliable Qantas going back to 30,000 staff. They will be having access to significantly boosted job-seeker payments. That is a key part of the announcement. It is going to be a difficult period, there is no question. We have to hang together and make sure that we get through this… interrupted
JESS EVA: We’ll move on from Qantas in a second, but surely Qantas should be responsible for re-hiring every single one of those workers with the exact same benefits.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am sure that is what Qantas will want to do, no question. Nobody will be helped if Qantas as a business collapses because we forced them to burn through their cash. We all have to work through this sensibly.
JESS EVA: On behalf of the everyday worker, we have a mum that’s in hospitality, today she loses her job. Dad is a casual milkman that would deliver to cafes and restaurants, he loses his job. They work week to week. They can’t afford to pay rent next week and we understand that there is going to be Newstart payments, but they take time. How does the everyday Australian survive once they’ve lost their job to date for example?
MATHIAS CORMANN: This is why we have made the decisions that we have made. The people that you describe, they will get access to that and there will be other payments. There is a $750 one-off payments to people on Newstart and other welfare recipients that will also be made from the end of March. It is going to be tough. We are going to try and do everything we can to help Australians through this period.
LAWRENCE MOONEY: Now Mathias, I nearly lost my job in September 2018 because I was impersonating Malcolm Turnbull. You knifed him. And I was also impersonating you and you disappeared, so I just want to do my Mathias Cormann for you and just tell me how I’m going, okay? Malcolm Turnbull lost the confidence of the Liberal Party party room and I am not going to be listening to the wibbly wobbly jelly on a plate man.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I think you have to keep working on that a bit, mate.
JESS EVA: Who’s talking now? Is this Mooney talking or is it Mathias? I can’t tell.
LAWRENCE MOONEY: That was actually Mathias.
JESS EVA: Oh God. It’s unbelievable.
LAWRENCE MOONEY: Obviously we are in uncharted waters and what’s happening is just unprecedented. It must be quite mind boggling for you. You have got the purse strings. How much money have we got? How much money has the Government got?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Essentially, we have now committed about $189 billion worth of support into the economy which is just under 10 per cent of our GDP to this round of stimulus and support. We do believe that we will have to do more. If we need to do more, we will do more.
LAWRENCE MOONEY: Okay, Mathias Cormann. Thank you very much for speaking with me today.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Excellent, thank you for having me on.
LAWRENCE MOONEY: And good luck. We know you’re working very hard. Thanks for joining us.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Thank you.