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Transcript of interview with David Speers: Sky News - PM Agenda: 22 August 2013: 2013 election



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Senator Mathias Cormann Shadow Assistant Treasurer Shadow Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation Coalition Campaign Spokesman

Sky News - PM Agenda

22 August 2013

Presenter: David Speers

Topic: Election 2013

E&OE……………………………………………………………………….

DAVID SPEERS

We are now going to bring in the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and campaign spokesperson for the Coalition, Senator Mathias Cormann joining us from Canberra this afternoon. Good to see you, thanks for joining us.

MATHIAS CORMANN

Good to be here.

DAVID SPEERS

I just wanted to start on the tobacco thing. Helen just mentioned there Tony Abbott today announced that the Liberals will no longer accept donations from tobacco companies. Now of course you’ve long argued that it is ok to take these donations, tobacco is a legal product, what’s changed, why the decision now not to take donations?

MATHIAS CORMANN

We are very determined in this campaign to talk about the issues that matter to the Australian people. We are very determined to talk about our plans for a stronger economy, for more jobs, to help families with their cost of living pressures. Kevin Rudd in this campaign hasn’t anything positive to talk about. He has no

record to defend and he has no plans for the future. So what he does is come up with a distraction a day and with a lie a day. So his distraction today was to try and run up this particular issue. Quite hypocritically given that Kevin Rudd only very recently took money from big tobacco for himself personally to fund one of his many trips overseas. So Tony Abbott today, very clearly, provided Leadership because we are committed to keeping the air free, to talk to the Australian people about our positive plans for a stronger economy and for a better Australia.

DAVID SPEERS

I’m just wondering what the principle is here, is it simply to get rid of the distraction, that you’ve now decided that donations from tobacco should not be accepted.

MATHIAS CORMANN

Tony Abbott has made his statements today which are very clear. We have always taken donations from businesses and individual Australians from right across Australia. The Labor party takes donations from discredited organisations like the Health Services Union, the corrupt Health Services Union … interrupted

DAVID SPEERS

I’m just asking what’s the principle here, if the product is no good for you, you won’t take their donations?

MATHIAS CORMANN

The principle here is that we are absolutely determined in this campaign not to get caught up, not to get sucked in, to Kevin Rudd’s desperate distractions.

DAVID SPEERS

So this is about politics, not principle.

MATHIAS CORMANN

We are totally focussed to talk about the issues that matter to the Australian people. We understand that we are dealing with a desperate Prime Minister. We understand that we are dealing with an increasingly desperate Labor party that is running a negative campaign, that is running a dishonest campaign, that is running a distraction a day. Today in my home state of Western Australia, one of the lies of today was this flyer that is being circulated in seats like Canning and Pearce, where Kevin Rudd and the Labor party are trying to make people believe that they abolished the Carbon Tax. Now everybody knows that that is a lie. That is as wrong as Julia Gillard’s promise before the last election, that there would be no Carbon Tax under a government she leads.

DAVID SPEERS

Ok, well if the driving force for this tobacco decision is to get rid of distractions let me then turn to I guess what you would also label a Labor distraction, that of the persistent questions about your Paid Parental Leave Scheme. I heard you on radio this morning with Fran Kelly talking about the costings here and I’m just wanting to clarify for us as well, the make-up of how this will be paid for, I think you said it’s about half from the levy and then another $2 billion from the current scheme being rolled into this and the rest from State schemes being rolled in.

MATHIAS CORMANN

What we’ve said and it is transparently put into our policy actually, over the forward estimates the net additional cost from our paid parental leave scheme is $6.1 billion. Once the scheme is fully operational it

costs about $5.5 billion a year overall. About half of that comes from the paid parental leave levy, then there is another $2 billion which comes discontinuing the existing inferior Labor scheme and rolling that into our fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme, which I remind you is an important economic reform for Australia. It’s an important reform to boost economic growth moving forward and to create more jobs. Then there are some remaining savings which come from some consequential savings and some consequential revenue effects as you provide additional income. Of course there are some income tax and some benefit effects that flow through. And of course we have also removed the opportunity to double dip because right now under Labor’s scheme, federal public servants here in Canberra for example get access not to one but to two fully taxpayer funded paid parental leave schemes, including a scheme at full replacement wage. So Kevin Rudd and the Labor party are arguing here that public servants out of Canberra deserve access to two fully taxpayer funded schemes, whereas people across Australia, working mothers across Australia, that are not working for the public service somehow don’t deserve access to one fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme. Well we disagree with that. We think that working mothers across Australia deserve access to a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme at their replacement wage.

DAVID SPEERS

Well, let me ask you whether it is fair dinkum. We just heard from Labor’s Catherine King about this. They’ve done a breakdown and looked at who’s really going to benefit from this. They find that areas with the highest percentage of working women earning $2,000 a week or more are mostly in Liberal held seats. Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah, Malcolm Turnbull’s seat in Wentworth, Joe Hockey’s seat of North Sydney and the list goes on. Those with the highest percentage of women earning $600 a week or less are all in country areas, National Party seats. Do you accept that this is going to heavily advantage those inner city seats over the bush?

MATHIAS CORMANN

No I don’t accept that at all. The Labor Party is making it up as they go. Our Paid Parental Leave Scheme will predominantly favour and be very good for low and middle income families. I’ll just explain why. Out of all of the women across Australia in the age bracket between 18-49 years of age, only 1.7% of them earn more than $100,000. So this is a complete furphy that the Labor Party is running. Women on the minimum wage will be $5000 better off as a result of our scheme. Women on the average wage will be $21,000 better off. Overwhelmingly, our Paid Parental Leave Scheme is good news for low and middle income families and of course it is also a very important economic reform for Australia helping us to grow a stronger economy.

DAVID SPEERS

Now, just finally Senator, the respected economist Saul Eslake is the Chief Australian Economist at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He’s put together a 34 page review of your policies and how they may or may not add up, he says that there is a gap of $30 billion that you need to find in savings. Is that figure about right?

MATHIAS CORMANN

Look, I’ll stick to our orderly, methodical and structured process. As you know, we’ve already released about $17 billion worth of savings to fund our policy commitments. In good time before the election we will be releasing a full list of all of our policies and their costs, a full list of all of our savings measures and their value, and what it will show is that under the Coalition the Budget will be in better shape, the Budget bottom line will be better off than it would be under Labor.

DAVID SPEERS

Alright, but is Saul Eslake about right here, he says that your savings only total $13.5 billion … interrupted

MATHIAS CORMANN

Well Saul Eslake, whom I have got a high regard for, he’s not aware of our assumptions, he’s not aware of the underlying methodologies and the underlying principles that are underpinning our policies. So with all due respect, I stick to our orderly, structured, methodical process. Our rigorous process through the Parliamentary Budget Office and of course the independent review through our independent panel of experts, including people like Peter Shergold, the former Secretary of the Prime Minister’s own department.

DAVID SPEERS

Alright, Senator Mathias Cormann we’ll have to leave it there, thanks for joining us.

MATHIAS CORMANN

Always good to be here.

ENDS

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