Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
Date: Sunday, 7 June 2020
MATHIAS CORMANN: There has never been a better time to build a home here in Western Australia. Between our program and the state’s program, if you are a first-home buyer you are able to access nearly $70,000 worth of support.
This is support that will be available on a time-limited basis. It is temporary. If you have been thinking about building a new home and you have been hesitating, this is the time to make a decision, because this support is only available on a time-limited basis.
We do want to bring construction activity forward, we do want to bring demand forward and this is a very, very significant package working together between the Federal and the State Government approaches that should be successful in stimulating a lot of activity and protecting a lot of jobs in the construction sector across Western Australia.
QUESTION: You were very critical of those people demonstrating yesterday, the thousands and thousands of them. Do you really believe that they were presenting a risk of spreading the virus?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Absolutely. This is not about the issue, which is a genuine and legitimate issue. All other things being equal, if we were not in a pandemic environment, we fully respect the right to protest. Right now, many, many Australians have lost their jobs as we imposed restrictions on the economy in order to save lives, to suppress the spread of the virus. People have been unable to attend funerals of their loved ones, to help stop the spread of the virus. If you go to a cafe right now, you have to leave your name and your address to help stop the spread of the virus. But we are going to have a mass gathering of tens of thousands of people in complete breach of the rules that apply to everybody else? It is absolutely reckless and irresponsible and it should not be happening. How do we say to a businessman that he is not allowed to open in order to help us slow down or suppress the spread of the virus, but we are going to have tens of thousands of people gather like they have on the east coast? There is a complete and utter double standard here. If it is good enough to impose restrictions on everyday Australians in their daily lives, in their jobs, across the economy, then it has to be good enough in these circumstances that we have witnessed in the last few days.
QUESTION: Should the Premier go to the court and try to stop this?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not going to give advice to the Premier. The Premier knows what he has and can do and he has explained his position perfectly clearly. I will leave the Premier to make his decisions in the West Australian context as he is.
QUESTION: Linda Burney says that labelling Black Lives Matter protesters as selfish and self-indulgent is politically expedient and ignorant. Is she right? Are you ignorant on these issues?
MATHIAS CORMANN: No. This is not about the subject matter at hand. I made that very clear this morning. The issue is a very legitimate issue and I understand the depth of feeling, but if we want to impose restrictions across the country to the point where people are prevented from attending the funeral of their loved ones, then surely we got to have some consistency here. We can’t at the same time essentially force people into unemployment in order to protect the health of the community, to save lives, and at the same time say it is fine to have tens of thousands of people gather in the way that they have gathered in recent days.
QUESTION: How would you suggest those protesters, do you feel that they are part of a global movement? There is a lot of passion, especially as an Aboriginal man died in custody on Friday. Obviously, that heightens emotion and passion about the cause. What would you say to a person who would attend the rally?
MATHIAS CORMANN: All around the world and all around Western Australia and all around Australia, people have made significant sacrifices in order to help protect the community's health. Significant sacrifices. Many, many people have lost their job in order to help suppress the spread of this deadly virus. There has got to be some consistency. There are other ways to express the strength of feeling, the legitimate strength of feeling, in relation to these issues. The rules that apply to everybody else should apply consistently across the board.
QUESTION: The Prime Minister was very strong in calling for all the state borders to come down now. Is that call being weakened by the fact that you've had this unpreventable gathering of thousands and thousands of people across the east coast?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is hard to see how state borders help if tens of thousands of people are able to gather the way that they have in complete breach of the rules that apply to everybody else.
QUESTION: It would certainly help Western Australia because it would stop people flying in or driving across?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Let’s see what happens in terms of mass gatherings in the West Australian context into the future, but it is hard to see how these restrictions are able to work to the stated and desired effect if there are mass gatherings like the ones that we have seen in Brisbane and other eastern states and cities.
QUESTION: The point being is that you have labelled it, the Prime Minister has labelled it as a health risk. It may have occurred that we've now got mass community spread in mass gatherings over the eastern side of the country. Why would we want to lower our borders and allow them to come here?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There should not be mass gatherings like the ones that we have seen anywhere, including in Western Australia.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am just making the point. The point is that there are very strict rules in place across the rest of the community and those rules should be abided by everyone.
QUESTION: On Insiders, Richard Marles indicated that Labor wants Australia to offer safe haven for Hong Kongers who might flee. What is the Government's position on this?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There are appropriate arrangements in place in these sorts of circumstances and I will leave the Minister for Immigration and the Minister for Foreign Affairs to deal with these matters.