Transcripts → 2020

TRANSCRIPT

Doorstop - Mural Hall

Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia

Transcription:
PROOF COPY E & OE

Date: Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Topic(s):
Economic update

QUESTION

Senator, today the Treasurer will be delivering his economic statement. He seems to be suggesting that there needs to be a way out. He’s saying that there is no money tree.

MATHIAS CORMANN

We are winning the fight against the virus. It is now important that we get the economy going again, that we get all Australians back into work. That is our focus. But we have to be able to do so in a way that is safe, which is why all of these measures that we have put in place around testing, the COVIDSafe app and the capacity to rapidly respond to any localised outbreaks are so important.

QUESTION

Minister, what is the risk of yo-yoing in and out of lockdowns. The Prime Minister says States need to hold their nerve. What is the risk if they don’t? The economic risk?

MATHIAS CORMANN

The key is to ensure that we do not have a second wave. That would clearly be bad from a public health point of view as well as from an economic point of view. That is why we have put all of the measures in place that we believe are necessary to ensure our economy can be COVID-safe. This is a matter now of cautiously easing restrictions, monitoring the effect in a health and in an economic sense and continuing down that path in a way that is as safe as possible. COVID-19 will be with us for some time as a threat. We have to continue to manage that threat in a way that helps us maximise our economic growth potential moving forward.

QUESTION

Brendan Murphy says that a second wave is what keeps him up at night. Is there a possibility that the easing of these restrictions may have to be lengthened beyond July?

MATHIAS CORMANN

A second wave is the risk that we are seeking to avoid. It clearly is a risk. It is a risk that we must avoid both from a public health point of view, as well as from an economic point of view. That is why we are thinking so carefully about how we can minimise that risk, how we can best manage that risk in order to ensure that we do not have a second wave.

QUESTION

JobKeeper and JobSeeker boosts were called economic lifelines at the time they were handed down. Can you afford to cut them off at the end of September if unemployment rates haven’t dropped enough?

MATHIAS CORMANN

I think that you are getting way ahead of yourself. We are six weeks in to a six month program. We have always flagged that there would be a review at around about the mid point. That review will take place. We will make judgements at that time. Of course we will continue to monitor economic circumstances, the level of employment growth and how things are developing. We will make judgements accordingly. But in the end, the measures that we have put in place were extraordinary measures. They were always designed to be temporary to provide support through this transition. As the Treasurer says, there is no money tree. We do need to get to the other side, where the economy can grow freely again and where we can start to pay back all of what we have had to invest into this transition.

QUESTION

The Government seems to have stepped back from snap back. Is that an acknowledgement that the economy isn’t going to recover as quickly as people were expecting?

MATHIAS CORMANN

I will leave the commentary to you. We are absolutely focused on a strong recovery on the other side. That is why we are making the judgements that we are making in terms of managing risks, minimising the risk of a second wave, and making sure that the economy can get going again in a way that is COVID-safe.

QUESTION

So on that, is the economy going to snap back?

MATHIAS CORMANN

I have always used the terminology that we want to see a strong bounce back on the other side. That is what we continue to work on.

QUESTION

The economic gains from easing restrictions, allowing up to ten people in cafes and the like, and progressively more as the stages go on. Does that take into account that for some businesses that it still won’t be viable to open? Does that assume that all will?

MATHIAS CORMANN

Individual businesses will make their decisions. What we are doing as a country at the moment, is to ease our way back into life as close as possible to normal. Bearing in mind that the COVID-19 threat continues to be there with us. After every phase of the easing of restrictions there will be an assessment on whether that was able to be done in a way that was COVID-safe. If it was COVID-safe then we will continue to go down that path. But we do understand that individual businesses will have to make decisions for themselves on whether it makes sense for them given the restrictions that continue to be in place, if it makes sense for them commercially to start operating. 

QUESTION

Strange to be here on the second Tuesday in May and not be looking forward to being part of delivering a Budget?

MATHIAS CORMANN

I look forward to being part of delivering a Budget on 6 October 2020. It will be a great day.

QUESTION

By then, will we see concrete, long term reforms?

MATHIAS CORMANN

Every Budget that we have delivered has included significant reforms. Our next Budget, the same as previous Budgets, will present our plan for the economy, our plan to repair the Budget and our plan to ensure that Australians have the best possible opportunity to get ahead in the future.

Thank you.

[ENDS]