Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
Date: Wednesday, 7 October 2020
QUESTION: Is this a Budget you will never forget or you would rather forget?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is a Budget that will get Australia out of the COVID recession. It is a Budget that will deliver a million jobs and it is a Budget that Australia needs as we seek to recover from this coronavirus pandemic.
QUESTION: And you have seen over seven Budgets. Were you hoping for a surplus, or disappointed?
MATHIAS CORMANN: You would always rather deliver a surplus Budget, but we know why we are here. The world was hit, Australia was hit, by the economic impact of a global pandemic. That has had devastating effects on business, on jobs, on working families and we had to make the necessary decisions to make sure we can recover.
QUESTION: You were pretty critical over the GFC of Labor’s debt and deficit. What is different this time round?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We provided temporary, proportionate, targeted fiscal support into the economy in the context of a genuine global crisis. The GFC was nothing compared to this. The GFC led to a contraction in global growth of 0.1 per cent. The effect in Australia was even more benign. So it is not comparable at all. The global pandemic that we are dealing with here is contracting the global economy by 45 times as much as the GFC. A 4.5 per cent contraction this calendar year on the back of this global pandemic. That is a real crisis and that is why the Government needed to step up and we did step up. We did not pursue pink batts in people’s roof that had to be taken out again. We did not pursue overpriced school halls and wasted money left, right and centre. We pursued genuine support and now we are investing in our recovery by supporting private sector businesses to create more jobs.
QUESTION: And this Budget relies on a number of assumptions, a vaccine, and borders opening. What if that stuff doesn’t happen?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Every Budget relies on assumptions and every Budget has to be put together without having perfect information in front of you. You have to make decisions based on the best available information and the best available advice. That is what we have done. If things change and if the information changes, the estimates will be updated. That is always the case. We are in the context of a pandemic. Of course there is a level of uncertainty when you are dealing with a pandemic. What are people suggesting? What is the Labor Party suggesting? That we do not make decisions? We are openly and transparently reporting the assumptions that we have made so that everybody can make judgements on what the implications are if something does or does not happen. It could well be that the vaccine is available sooner. Then we will be in a better position. Earlier this year we expected that we might have unemployment of 10 per cent by the end of June. It wasn’t. It was 7.4 per cent. So you always have to make assumptions and you do it based on the best available advice.
QUESTION: Just finally, it is your seventh and final Budget. How are you feeling? Are you happy or sad to be leaving this place?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I have loved this job, I have loved the opportunity to serve and to make a contribution. I have given this my best. After this and after we have landed this Budget it will be time for somebody else to have ago.