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Transcript of Interview: SKY News with David Speers: 19 September 2013: Climate Commission, Clean Energy Finance Corporation, automotive industry, commission of audit



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Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann

Minister for Finance

TRANSCRIPTION: PROOF COPY E & OE

DATE: 19/9/13

TITLE: Transcript of Interview - SKY News with David Speers

TOPIC: Climate Commission, Clean Energy Finance Corporation,

automotive industry, commission of audit

DAVID SPEERS: Welcome back to the program. Well, since being sworn into office formally

yesterday, the Government isn't wasting any time. Three senior public servants were yesterday given

their marching orders.

Today the Climate Commission, the somewhat controversial body set up by the Gillard Government

to provide independent advice on climate change, well, it has been shut down. This is something the

Opposition, the then Opposition now Government, promised it would do prior to the election.

To discuss this and other matters I'm now joined by the new Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

Welcome to the program, congratulations on your promotion to the Cabinet as Finance Minister.

Let's start on the Climate Commission. This is something you promised that you would shut down. It's

now happened a day after you've been sworn in. Is this because you didn't regard the advice it was

giving to be independent?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Well David, as you've just pointed out, this is something that we clearly

committed to do before the election. We are totally focused immediately now on implementing our

agenda for a stronger, more prosperous economy and for a safer, more secure Australia and of

course as part of that we have taken action to initiate the scrapping of the carbon tax to start ending

the waste.

I mean we've of course got a very clear and strongly articulated commitment to treat taxpayers'

money respectfully and to make sure that taxpayers get value for money, and of course the particular

- the closure of the Climate Commission, as you've pointed out, is something that was part of our plan

to achieve savings across government very quickly.

You've got to remember, we inherited a fiscal mess from this government. Labor when they got

elected in 2007 inherited a budget with no Government net debt, with a strong surplus, with money in

the bank. We inherited two-hundred-and-fifty billion dollars worth of accumulated deficits and a budget

position that was deteriorating to the tune of about three billion dollars a week between May and

August this year.

So we are essentially just calmly and methodically starting to implement all of the commitments and

all of the policy decisions that we flagged before the election in a proper way.

DAVID SPEERS: Just specifically though on the Climate Commission, was this just about money or

was it because you didn't respect its independence?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, we've got a better way of providing effective action on climate change

and one that is more cost effective. As you know, as part of our program going into this election we

clearly laid out the way we would go about it and we're just calmly and methodically implementing and

executing that plan.

DAVID SPEERS: Another element of well, the climate change space, the Clean Energy Finance

Corporation, again something you want to shut down. There is some argument though about whether

you can order the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to stop issuing these green loans, or whether

you need legislation passed by Parliament for it to do that.

I see the Conservation Foundation has received advice from a senior counsel that legislation is

required to force the Corporation to stop making loans. What is your view on this?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, again this is an issue that we were very clear on. In the lead up to the

election we said very clearly that our intention, should we be successful, was to close down the Clean

Energy Finance Corporation. We don't think it provides value for money for taxpayers.

And of course the Treasurer Mr Hockey has already written to the board of the Clean Energy Finance

Corporation asking them not to write any further loans and - to ask them to assist us in essentially

going through the process to close down the Clean Energy Finance Corporation as quickly as

possible.

He has also instructed his department to start drafting the legislation to bring about the closure of the

Clean Energy Finance Corporation. And I might just say here that the board of the Clean Energy

Finance Corporation has been in touch with the Government to advise us that they had indeed

paused the writing of new loans. So we're essentially…

DAVID SPEERS: So they've done that now, have they?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, they have written to us to advise that they had paused writing new loans

and we are just again going through a normal, proper, methodical, structured process and of course in

good time, as soon as possible, legislation will be put to the Parliament to give effect to the closure of

the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Again, entirely consistent...

DAVID SPEERS: Just to be clear on what you've said there, no more loans are being issued, is that

what you're saying?

MATHIAS CORMANN: That is the advice that the Chair of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation has

provided to us, indeed.

DAVID SPEERS: Okay. On the public service chiefs, the three of them were given their marching

orders yesterday. Why were they told to go?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, again, we are a new Government. We are focused on implementing the

commitments that we made in the lead up to the last election. We are focused on implementing our

agenda for a stronger, more prosperous economy and a safer, more secure Australia.

We're focused on implementing our plans to scrap the carbon tax, to scrap the mining tax, to build the

roads of the twenty-first century, to stop the boats, and of course as part of that we've got to put

together the best possible team to help us achieve all of those objectives and all of the commitments

that we've made to the Australian people.

So there have been some changes. They haven't been dramatic changes. There have been some

new arrivals, some promotions and there have been some departures. That is just part of the normal

course of events when you have a change of government.

DAVID SPEERS: These three individuals in particular were associated with the previous

Government's climate change and immigration policies, politically contentious areas. Was that an

issue in choosing these three to go?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Look, I don't want to start reflecting on individual people and on individual

decisions. The point I would make is that obviously as the incoming Government we want to give

ourselves the best possible chance to deliver on all of the commitments that we made to the

Australian people in the lead up to the election and that is what people would expect us to do.

We think that we've got the right people in the right positions. There have been some changes but

they haven't been dramatic changes, but we're now ready to hit the ground running and we'll continue

one by one to focus on implementing the commitments that we made.

DAVID SPEERS: Can I ask you about Holden? The South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has said

today that Holden will stop making cars in Australia unless the Federal Government commits more

funding by Christmas. Is that going to happen?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, the Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane of course is working through these

issues with all of the relevant stakeholders. You would be aware of course that - the Coalition

Government is of course committed to a continuing car industry in Australia. That has of course got to

be based on strong and effective export plans. There is not an open-ended chequebook.

As I've said to you earlier, we will be a government that treats taxpayers' money with respect and we'll

seek value for taxpayers' money. But these are really matters that the Industry Minister Ian

Macfarlane will work through with the Premier of South Australia, Holden and other key stakeholders

in a proper, orderly fashion.

DAVID SPEERS: Well, when you talk about spending taxpayers' money wisely, where does this fit?

Where does the automotive sector fit into the wisdom of spending taxpayers' money?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Well again there are obviously two aspects to this. We are committed to see a

continuing car industry in Australia but of course it's got to be sustainable into the future and it's got to

be based on some clear plans to strengthen the export potential of the cars that are being produced

here Australia.

And of course - these are all issues that Ian Macfarlane is working his way through with all of the key

stakeholders as we speak and I'm sure that he will have more to say about the specifics of all of that

in good time.

DAVID SPEERS: Just a final issue, the Commission of Audit the Coalition promised prior to the

election. How quickly are you likely to move on that and have you given more thought to who might

lead that?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Well, in good time we'll be making all of these announcements. Just to

confirm that yes, of course, as we committed to do before the election there will be a Commission of

Audit and its focus will be on making sure that the operations of government are as efficient as

possible to make sure that again taxpayers get value for money. The recommendations of that

Commission of Audit will feed into the budget processes in the normal, usual way.

DAVID SPEERS: Finance Minister Matthias Cormann, thank you for joining us this afternoon.

MATHIAS CORMANN: Good to be here.

DAVID SPEERS: After the break we're going to be discussing this closure of the Climate Commission

a little further with one of the Commissioners, not Tim Flannery but the one with the business

background, the…

ENDS

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