Transcripts → 2020


Doorstop – Mural Hall

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


Date: Monday, 5 October 2020

2020-21 Budget, infrastructure programs

QUESTION: Personal income tax cuts, they are going to be brought forward aren’t they?

MATHIAS CORMANN: The Budget will be delivered at 7.30pm tomorrow night. As you would be well aware, we have a track record of always looking for opportunities to lower the tax burden on hard working families. Personal income tax cuts put more money into workers pockets. They boost take home pay for hard working Australians. So it is always something that we are committed to pursue where that makes sense.

QUESTION: It makes sense to back date to July 1 one, doesn’t it? So that there is money in the pockets of workers right away.

MATHIAS CORMANN: I know you are very keen for me to deliver the Budget for you this morning. But it will be tomorrow night.

QUESTION: How do you know people will spend them? That’s the big thing. We know that household savings are at its highest levels since the 70s. People are concerned. Is it a good investment in income tax cuts?

MATHIAS CORMANN: I am quite intrigued by your perspective on what people do with their own money. This is not the Government’s money. When you talk about personal income tax cuts, what you are talking about is letting people keep more of their own hard earned money. It is not a matter of the Government making an investment. It is about letting working Australians keep more of their own hard earned money. It is people’s own judgement as to how they spend or save their money. And this proposition that somehow it is a bad thing when people save I do not agree with either. Depending on your personal circumstances, saving is also an important part of boosting your personal financial position and putting yourself in a stronger, safer position in the context of potential headwinds in the future. 

QUESTION: Senator, on the tax cuts, if you do bring them forward, that timeline, that new timeline would need to be legislated. Labor is suggesting they wouldn’t back stage three. So how would you convince them to do so?

MATHIAS CORMANN: You are now asking me to answer a question that is entirely premised on pre-Budget speculation, which may or may not be accurate. The Budget will be delivered tomorrow night. It will be up to the Labor party to decide what they do. Whether they want to stand in the way of more money in worker’s pockets if that is what the Budget delivers. That is going to be a matter for the Labor party. In the end, we have a pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-recovery Budget. We will commend it to the Parliament. We hope that all parties in the Parliament will come in strongly behind the Government’s plan for the strongest possible economic and jobs recovery moving forward. 

QUESTION: Why based the numbers on the assumption that we will get a vaccine. Isn’t that a pretty big assumption?

MATHIAS CORMANN: The Government always bases any Budget estimates – estimates – on the best available information and advice in front of us at any one point in time. Clearly the indications are that when it comes to a vaccine that there is a strong likelihood of a vaccine some time next year. If information changes, assessments change. But at any one point in time, estimates are based on the best available information and advice in front of us at that point in time.  

QUESTION: Senator, will the debt ceiling be lifted above $1 trillion?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Again, I will leave it to the Treasurer to make relevant announcements in the Budget tomorrow night.

QUESTION: How will you sell the stage three tax cuts to the taxpayer? When all the analysis shows they are going to benefit high income earners?

MATHIAS CORMANN: You are making an assumption here. I will refer you to the Budget tomorrow night.

QUESTION: Debt and deficit has been such a toxic debate here in Canberra. We are about to potentially go above $1 trillion. $210 billion deficit. Does this sort kill that debate? And what do you say to people who are concerned about those figures, and the fact that future generations will have to pay this money back?

MATHIAS CORMANN: A 4.5 per cent contraction in the global economy in the wake of the unexpected coronavirus crisis. To put that into perspective, the Global Financial Crisis, a 0.1 per cent contraction, a 0.1 per cent contraction from the Global Financial Crisis. This has been a massive hit on our economy. There was no alternative but for the Government to step up. And as a result of the hard yards we have done as a Government during our first six years in Government, to repair the Budget, to bring the Budget back into balance, as a result of that work, we went into this crisis in a comparatively stronger position than just about any other economy around the world. That has stood us in good stead. But when you are faced with a crisis like this, of course it is up to Government to step up to ensure that we support the economy, that we support working families to get through this crisis in the best possible way.

QUESTION: This is to be an infrastructure Budget, billions and billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure. How can the public have confidence that the money will be well spent when we still don’t know what went wrong with the Leppington private purchase?

MATHIAS CORMANN: I will let Minister McCormack address questions in relation to that particular decision in the department of infrastructure. But people will be able to see a whole series of high quality, productivity enhancing, economy-growing infrastructure projects coming forward in this Budget. A lot of those projects have been announced today. I am sure that communities all around Australia will be very excited to see the investment that the Australian Government is pursuing in high quality, productivity enhancing, economy growing infrastructure.

QUESTION: But how can we have assurance that that money isn’t being spent is ten times as much as it should be?

MATHIAS CORMANN: We have processes to ensure that that does not happen. Those processes … interrupted

QUESTION: But they failed on that project.

MATHIAS CORMANN: Those processes are working their way through the system here too. I think you will find that there is some more to come in relation to that.

QUESTION: I just want to get back to that vaccine question. So you say that you make assumptions based on the best available information at the time. Presumably that is usually things like oil prices and things around that. This doesn’t exist. Do you make assumptions based on things that don’t exist?

MATHIAS CORMANN: You are quite wrong. We are spending a lot of money in relation to getting access for all Australians to a vaccine that is expected to come on stream at some point in the future. I completely reject the proposition that you are putting there. We get advice from a whole variety of areas of Government, including the department of health, in relation to matters that have a direct consequence in terms of our future economic fortunes. A vaccine is entirely material when it comes to our future economic fortunes. We are basing our assumptions and our estimates on the best available advice and information at a particular point in time.

Thank you.