Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Transcript of interview with Jason Morrison: 2UE Drive: 28 August 2013: Election 2013



Download PDFDownload PDF

Transcript

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

Wednesday 28 August 2013 5:10pm AEST

2UE Drive with Jason Morrison and Mathias Cormann

Subjects: Election 2013

EO&E.....................................................................................................................................

......

JASON MORRISON

This is 2UE. Today we got an interesting start to our day. I got into work and my producer Martine said Chris Bowen’s office is on the phone, the Treasurer and he wants to talk to you on the air. I was just poof, wow, three years they’ve never wanted to speak to me. In fact they don’t even return our calls most of the time. And so when Chris Bowen rang up and wanted to be on the show, I thought, my-word, absolutely, book him in, 5 O’clock. They even offered the time. Then we called back after the debate in the National Press Club between Joe Hockey and Chris Bowen where I think Bowen was a little shot down because Hockey actually produced all the costings which he had been screaming and carrying on about. Suddenly Bowen’s not available. So there’s no Chris Bowen this afternoon. Not available, despite making earlier requests to come on the air. So please don’t accuse me of not trying. They even today wanted and they didn’t.

So I thought I would give you a bit of a breakdown as to what is in these costings. I know the stuff in many peoples’ minds is mind-numbing. You just want to know if it adds up. I can’t tell you if it adds up yet because we haven’t got the full amount but we have a summary of where they plan to cut. We have a summary of where the savings will be and I think by my interpretation of this I can also tell you that what Labor proposed in those series of tax grabs and cuts they went after just before the election was called which included the smoking tax and the dive for superannuation and a deposit tax. I can’t see any reference in this that the Liberals are not going to do this. So I thought I’d give them a chance this afternoon to come on and clear this up. Mathias Cormann is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and he’s with me from the Opposition. G’day, good to talk to you again.

MATHIAS CORMANN

Good to talk to you again.

MORRISON

Am I missing something here, are you going to put the price of cigarettes up, are you going to grab at peoples’ superannuation, and are you going to hit us with a deposit tax if elected?

CORMANN

Well Jason what we’ve said today again, as we’ve said before, is that we are now facing a Budget emergency after six years of Labor mismanagement. The Budget is in a mess and there are a range of things that we don’t like that we wouldn’t have done if we had been the government, but in terms of fixing up Labor’s Budget mess we’ve got to prioritise. Our first priority is to scrap the Carbon Tax, because that is pushing up the cost of living and it is making us less competitive internationally. We’ll scrap the Mining Tax because that will help us grow our economy more strongly and we’ll essentially work our way through a list of priorities. As soon as we’re finished with our initial priorities we’ll keep working our way down that list. But in the meantime, because we do have to make the numbers add up, we do have to make sure that we can put the Budget back on track to a credible and believable path back to surplus, so in the meantime, although we don’t like some of those measures, we have confirmed today that we will adopt them.

MORRISON

Okay so you’re going to put up the price of cigarettes another 12-15 per cent, yes?

CORMANN

We’re going to proceed with the increase…

MORRISON

Yes, okay and you’re going to take superannuation monies that in the Government’s mind have been dormant? What right does any government of any persuasion have to take peoples’ money sitting in accounts?

CORMANN

Well again we don’t like many of these measures. But essentially our first responsibility right now is to put the Budget back onto a credible pathway back to surplus, to make sure that we get the Budget back under control. As soon as we’ve done that, the same as we’ve done in the past, we will be able to re-visit some of these issues that we don’t like and fix them up.

MORRISON

But just answer my question, what right does a government have to take money sitting in peoples’ accounts, to seize monies sitting in peoples’ accounts? I mean, you know, it’s not about Budget emergencies. That’s theft.

CORMANN

Well as I said, we don’t like it but we won’t…

MORRISON

Well don’t do it.

CORMANN

Well we can’t fix up every one of Labor’s stuff ups on day one, we’ve got to work our way through…

MORRISON

Yeah but this is…I would put, wouldn’t you, in a category of stuff ups stealing money from peoples’ bank accounts or in this case superannuation accounts, and we’ll get to banks in a minute, is a stuff up, that’s wrong, you just don’t do it.

CORMANN

Well we certainly agree that it’s wrong to steal money from peoples’ superannuation accounts and of course we would not be doing that. What we will do in the short-term is we will implement those sorts of measures that the Government has introduced, even though we don’t like them, but of course the intention is to reunite people with their money as soon as possible.

MORRISON

Yeah but Mathias, come on, you can’t tell me that you don’t like them but still do them. I mean if I don’t like something that means I don’t do it.

CORMANN

I absolutely can tell you that because obviously there is a range of competing priorities. We’ve got a job to do. If we’re successful on September 7 we will be inheriting an absolute Budget mess. Now if the Budget continues to track the way it has been under the Government, it’ll take us into a very bad place. So we’ve got to make sure that we put the budget back on track. We’ve got to bring back sound financial management. That is in all of our interests. It is very important for our ongoing standard of living, it is very important for our quality of life moving forward. It is very important that we get this sorted out.

MORRISON

Oh yeah, look I absolutely agree with you, I understand the debt issue we have, I understand the enormous repayment costs that we have that are in fact restricting our ability to get on and do things, I know that you’re going to have to sack a whole lot of public servants to achieve all of this but please leave peoples’ money alone in their bank accounts. What right, for example, does a government have to chip a tax on every deposit made to bank accounts. I mean we’re nine days out from the election. I raised this with you guys a month ago, I got all the noises like you’re saying to me now that you think this is wrong, this shouldn’t be done but you’re going to do it.

CORMANN

Because we are facing a Budget emergency and because we have got to deal with that Budget emergency in the first instance. We’re going to work our way through in a prioritised way. The list of all of the things that Labor has done that we don’t like and in an orderly, methodical and structured fashion, in a way that actually enables us to bring the Budget back into surplus in a credible, believable fashion. We will sort these issues out as soon as we can.

MORRISON

I don’t know how that will wash and I’ll be interested to test that with people who are listening to me right now because to hear a politician say that they don’t like doing something but they have to do it… Let me talk about job cuts because I would image it’s not much fun telling 12,000 people that they’re going to lose their jobs. Where’s that going to happen?

CORMANN

Well actually I’ve got to correct you there. Nobody is going to get sacked under our policy. The way it’s going to be done, and we’ve been very transparent about this, is we will reduce the size of the public service by 12,000 people through natural attrition. So what we’ll do is, as people leave the public service of their own volition, in the normal course of events, we won’t replace them. We’ve had this policy costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office and they’ve indicated that this will help us save $5.2 billion over the current forward estimates.

MORRISON

So do you have an idea where the jobs will go from, have you got a bit of a sense as to which professions are going to be hit by the cuts yet?

CORMANN

Over the last six years under Labor, the size of the public service has increased…

MORRISON

Yeah.

CORMANN

…by more than 20,000. Now, what we’ve said is that in an orderly fashion, by not replacing people that leave, we will be able to reduce that by 12,000. There are some Departments that we will be able to scrap completely, like the Climate Change Authority which is there to essentially enforce compliance with the carbon tax. We’ll be able to scrap that completely. Obviously, we’re going to be strategic in relation to how these cuts are going to play out across the public service as a whole.

MORRISON

Okay, but what I’m getting at is that enough people have had experiences with this over the years, with government that we say it’s going to be by natural attrition, but you decide what jobs you no longer think are important and you make people redundant. Is that going to be the strategy, or is it just going to be simply someone leaves, they are not going to be replaced?

CORMANN

The strategy is most definitely not to make people redundant. Obviously, if you’re going to have higher needs in one area of government and lower needs in another area of government, there is going to be the opportunity within government to rebalance. Our Commission of Audit is designed to look at the operations of government across the whole of the government to make sure that taxpayer’s money is spent as wisely as possible, to make sure that the operations of government are as efficient as possible. But,

in terms of reducing the size of the public service, we’ll be able to achieve a reduction of 12,000 people just by not replacing people that leave in the normal course of events.

MORRISON

Are you cutting foreign aid at all?

CORMANN

Not in the savings that we’ve announced today. That is not something that we’ve proposed.

MORRISON

You’d have a very good sense of the public attitude that you’re going to hit everybody with a new tax on their deposits, but you’re not going to cut funding which Australians would think what you do when you’re on top of things, not when we’re very much behind. Why not?

CORMANN

Well we’ve released the bulk of our savings today. We will be releasing the final set of savings figures by the end of next week and of course people then will be able to look at all of our policies and their costs and all of our savings and their value together in their totality and it will show that the budget will be better off under the Coalition than under Labor.

MORRISON

But can you understand my notion here? I appreciate that the money has got to come from somewhere and we’ve got a hell of a hole we’ve got to fill. But, for example the deposit tax will raise about $1 billion, so rising up to half a per cent tax on every deposit made in every bank account for every person in the country, we’re going to make $1 billion out of, yet you know there’s $5.5 billion and rising we have in foreign aid we’d never think of touching that. We don’t mind hitting the Australian public with something? I know, in a lot of people’s minds each is not equal, but you know it doesn’t sit well does it? You’re going to hit and hurt the public more, but we’re going to continue to help offshore in the same fashion?

CORMANN

Well across the whole of the government’s Budget, you’ve obviously got to make a whole lot of decisions, where you prioritise things against each other. As I’ve said we’ve released $31.6 billion of savings today. That is the bulk of the savings that we are proposing to take to this election and what is shows of course are a couple of things:

Firstly, the $70 billion figure that Labor has been putting out has been completely discredited…

MORRISON

I think that’s been heavily discredited, I don’t give that any time at all.

CORMANN …and the second point is that we are able to achieve those $31.6 billion worth of savings without any cuts to health, education or defence.

MORRISON

Okay and how long to pay back the debt, what’s the strategy?

CORMANN

Obviously in order to pay back the debt, the first thing you’ve got to do is bring the Budget back into surplus. Right now we are on track for more than $300 billion worth of gross debt. The government right now is spending about $10 billion a year just on the interest to service the debt that they have accumulated so far. In fact the government is borrowing money to pay the interest on the debt that they have accumulated so far, which is a terrible position for us to be in. This is why we’ve got to make the decisions that we’ve announced today so that we can bring the budget back onto a credible pathway back to surplus.

MORRISON

Alright, appreciate you coming on and thank you.

CORMANN

Always good to talk to you.

[ENDS]