Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for South Australia
Date: Wednesday, 12 May 2021
Stav: Simon Birmingham doesn't work for me.
Abby: I knew you were going to start with this, you're going to give me a nickname aren't you?
Stav: Big Bad Birmo. Good morning, legend.
Simon Birmingham: Good morning, guys. Great to be with you.
Abby: Do you have a nickname in federal parliament?
Simon Birmingham: Well, it is, Birmo. So you're pretty much on the money there.
Stav: You need some sort of, like, banner behind you when you're doing a press conference that says Big Bad Birmo. And you have maybe You're The Voice, Farnzi can play as you walk towards the lectern.
Matt: Birmo's Budget
Simon Birmingham: The Farnzi lead in was very inspiring.
Abby: How did you guys celebrate last night? Like, I know that, you know post a photo you know it's delivered. What do you guys do after? Is there some sort of party? It's like no. Cheers, guys, let's go home.
Simon Birmingham: Oh, I buzzed around the building and gave speeches at about 10 different functions, did a bunch of different interviews and got back to my office at around 11 o'clock last night and found some leftover cold pizza that I ate with my staff. It was a cracking celebration.
Stav: Is it the same when you do the federal budget as it is when I sit down with my wife and we do our house budget for our household expenses?
Abby: He's got the same amount of spend so yeah.
Stav: Yeah, it's pretty close. You know, like you sit down and I tell her where I think we should not spend money. Do you have people around you who go, oh, you're such a tight arse, oh come on? Just let us spend a bit more there.
Simon Birmingham: That's often meant to be my job as Finance Minister, as the guy who sort of sits there as other Ministers come in and say, OK, I've got this great new idea could we do this. And I go no, we shouldn't do that. That's probably not a good idea. And it would really add to costs further. And look, this is a Budget, you know, like all we've have had to- like your family, frame our priorities. And so, number one priority, keep Australians safe from COVID. Number two, to keep the economy strong in the face of- over in Europe, they're having a double dip recession caused by COVID so we've got to invest and plan, keeping the economy strong. Number three, long term jobs growth that gives us the strength and resilience for the future. Number four, investing in the services that Australians expect government to deliver safe and high quality aged care, mental health support. You know, these are crucial things that last night we were able to invest more in because of the fact our economic plan is working.
Abby: There's a lot of different spend, obviously. But one thing that we were all talking about in our meeting is the $200 million dollars behind announcing MyGov. Can you personally log on to your MyGov easily?
Simon Birmingham: Yes, yes. I in fact, I actually went through and downloaded the app and refreshed my MyGov stuff just the other day. Probably prompted by some of these decisions.
Abby: Do you have it linked to your Medicare though? That's where you comes undone when you got to link it.
Simon Birmingham: Oh no. I think I've managed to get that part of the linking to work. Yes. But the investment is about modernising these services because what we've seen is people driving into using online devices to be able to access a whole range of things in their lives. And of course, everybody has confidence to navigate their banking systems on their personal devices nowadays. So they should be able to do the same with the degree of use in relation to government systems and that we're seeing much greater take up. We want to make sure that the system responds to that by being as user friendly as possible, because it also gives us efficiencies across government, allows us to spend less on public servants just to deliver the administration of the service and more on actually supporting services overall. And if you look at the long term trends in the Budget, you can see that what we call departmental expenses as a share of government spending have been going down. More of what we've been spending on as a share of the total government spend has been about the things that really matter to people, their services in Medicare, disability services, aged care, etc.
Stav: Yeah, fair enough. Now, Big Bad Birmo you are the Federal Finance Minister. We know you know your stuff about Australia and our budget. But we want to test you right now to see if you know about the things that your potential life buys.
Simon Birmingham: I heard a rumour you guys were doing this, which prompted me to have a look at my credit card statements.
Abby: Hey, no don't do that. I would just like to put this out there. That I did a test like this earlier on the week with Matty and he got them all wrong. So don't feel bad, but we had to averages that. I mean, I think this is bollocks, but let's just say the average cost of a haircut?
Matt: For a female?
Abby: Yeah, is that right? Okay.
Simon Birmingham: Look, I'm running after a little bit of credit card snooping, in the $90-$100 buck range. I'm not quite, probably more or less, depending on what you're getting done.
Abby: Yeah, well we'll say 70 that's not too bad.
Stav: Good job.
Abby: The cost of a nail's appointment. Is this the average, our producers? I pay a lot more. OK, all right.
Stav: You must get the glitter gel.
Abby: Let's just say, just the manicure.
Simon Birmingham: Oh, I don't know 30?
Abby: Oh not far off, 50.
Stav: I'm sorry. I don't want my Federal Finance Minister to be that far out on money. I'm not giving you that. If we were talking millions and you're like 20 million out, meh.
Simon Birmingham: Now, I'm looking at my nails.
Matt: You got a $30 job.
Abby: It is hard to ask these questions because there's so much variance as well, do they get the shellac, do they get the gel, do they get the tips? But let's say cost of tampons.
Matt: For a woman.
Abby: They're not going to charge you more for a man are they? For a box of 20?
Simon Birmingham: I dunno, 30 bucks?
Abby: For a box of 20.
Stav: I'm going to guess he's wrong.
Matt: How much though by?
Abby: Do you guys, have a guess? Matty?
Matt: I'd say for 20, I'd say 80-90?
Abby: $5. Well, GST is not in there so must have been all that. That's good that that's come down.
Simon Birmingham: Huge fail.
Abby: All right, let's go, let's go with something a bit easier then. What about a cost of half a kilo of mince. And I'm going to go with the heart smart one?
Simon Birmingham: Heart smart one, about half a kilo, about 8 bucks?
Abby: Oh, yes sir $8. Here we go. All right, well done.
Stav: What about a carton of 4X gold?
Simon Birmingham: Oh, about 45?
Stav: Oh look at you pretending, you know my man, bang on.
Simon Birmingham: I'm from SA a bit more of a Coopers guy.
Stav: Really appreciate it, mate. Thanks for chatting this morning.
Simon Birmingham: Thank so much guys, have a good one.
Stav: Federal Finance Minister Big Bad Birmo on the air at B105.