Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
Date: Tuesday, 12 May 2020
BRETT MASON: Finance Minister, welcome back to SBS.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good to be here.
BRETT MASON: We know the treasurer is in self-isolation this evening. What can you tell us about his COVID-19 test tonight?
MATHIAS CORMANN: He has made a decision on advice and out of an abundance of caution to get tested. He will get the results of the test tomorrow and in the meantime has self-isolated. He is essentially doing what we are asking all Australians to do.
BRETT MASON: What advice have you received regarding the rest of Parliament? He was in the Chamber today alongside the Opposition Leader, the Prime Minister. If he tests positive, this could potentially have enormous ramifications.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I think we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves at the moment. As you know and as you would have been able to observe across the Chamber, we are practising social distancing. We are taking our own advice in relation to all of the rules that we apply to others. That is obviously done to minimise the sorts of risks which would occur in that scenario.
BRETT MASON: Net migration could potentially fall by as much as 85 per cent next financial year compared with last financial year. How important is migration to Australia’s economic success and the fact that we have avoided a recession for so many years now?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Migrants have made an incredible contribution to Australia’s success, but in the circumstances we are in right now with restricted movements and certainly restricted movements internationally, it is likely to take some time before things return to normal on that front. At the right time, in the right circumstances, of course we would like to see tourists and students come back in large numbers, spending money in Australia.
BRETT MASON: Newstart, that can’t possibly return to its previous limit. There is going to be some level of extension to the $40 a day that that’s currently set at?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Firstly, Newstart, as it was called, and JobSeeker, as it is called now, is increased twice a year, it is indexed twice a year by inflation and that is what is happening on an ongoing basis... interrupted
BRETT MASON: But not in real terms.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am just saying, it is increased twice a year, every year. The supplement that we have put in place for jobseekers, the COVID-19 supplement, is a temporary supplement which is in place for six months. That is the way this is being arranged in order to ensure that we provide appropriate supports through this crisis.
BRETT MASON: Mathias Cormann, thank you very much.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you.