Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
Date: Monday, 8 June 2020
NATALIE BARR: Joining me now is Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. Good morning to you.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good morning.
NATALIE BARR: You've been highly critical of protesters. They say they were protesting against Aboriginal deaths in custody and it was necessary. What do you say to that?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is a very serious issue. My comments were never about the issue itself, but right now, many Australians have lost their jobs as we had to impose restrictions on the economy to keep the community safe from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Many people have made lots of sacrifices to help save people's lives and right now as a nation, our major challenge is to prevent a second wave so that we do not have to go back into more severe restrictions across the economy, which will put people’s livelihoods at risk. In that context, it was absolutely inappropriate for tens of thousands of people to breach the rules that apply to everybody else in order to keep the community safe.
NATALIE BARR: They were allowed to in New South Wales. The Supreme Court gave them that permission. The New South Wales Government is now going to push for legislation to outlaw mass gatherings like this. Do you think that is necessary and should other states do the same?
MATHIAS CORMANN: These mass gatherings should never have happened. We are preventing pubs in many parts of Australia, restaurants and hotels from having patrons in normal numbers arrive at their venues. Lots of people are still unemployed because they are paying the price for the community’s effort to keep the community safe...interrupted
NATALIE BARR: So you agree with the New South Wales Government’s actions?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Of course we shouldn't impose that risk on the community at this point in time.
NATALIE BARR: So you agree that all states should push to outlaw these gatherings?
MATHIAS CORMANN: To the extent that specific legislation is necessary, that should be considered, absolutely. These mass gatherings should not have happened. They are completely inconsistent with the restrictions that are imposed on everybody else and I think it is just common sense. Given what has happened over the weekend with these mass protests, I would just urge all Australians again that have not yet downloaded the COVIDSafe app to please do so. It is going to be an incredibly important tool to keep the Australian community safe over the next few weeks and months ahead.
NATALIE BARR: Finance Minister, thanks for your time this morning.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Always good to talk to you.