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Transcript of doorstop interview: Mural Hall, Canberra: 4 May 2018: Craft beer; Section 44; business tax cuts; education

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Minister for Finance



Doorstop - Mural Hall

Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann

Minister for Finance

Leader of the Government in the Senate

Senator for Western Australia






Craft beer, Section 44, business tax cuts, education.


Scott Morrison said he wasn’t going to be Santa Claus in the Budget, yet we

are seeing an announcement that beer is going to be cheaper. What is behind that?


That is about putting craft beer and the beer provided by the larger

brewers on a level playing field. Scott Morrison will have some more to say about that later



In terms of aged care, what is the Government going to do to make sure that

people can stay in their homes longer?


The Budget will be delivered on Tuesday at 7:30pm.


Minister, your WA colleague Linda Reynolds says the only way to solve

Section 44 of the Constitution is to have a referendum, is to put it to a vote and overturn it.

Do you agree with that?


That is the conclusion of the committee that inquired into it. I note

that that is their conclusion.


Do you think it has gotten to the stage where it got so messy that we do need

to go as far as a referendum in your personal opinion?



We have not made a decision to have a referendum. I note that the

Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has formed a view that there is no other way

to resolve it, should we want to resolve it. I am personally not persuaded that the Australian

people disagree with the proposition that a member of the Federal Parliament should be an

Australian citizen only.


There is a meeting today between the Education Minister and his counterparts

in the States and Territories. Do you think they are going to pick up the Gonski plan?


That is certainly what we hope. We have provided substantial

additional funding to the Gonski model of needs based schools funding, which was

legislated through the Parliament towards the middle of last year. We hope that the States

will embrace our very important proposed way forward.


You have proposed that the NDIS will be funded. The Budget is looking

healthy and strong now, but what happens when the coffers go down? What then?


Again, the Budget will be delivered on Tuesday at 7:30pm. What

you will see is the expected trajectory both over the four years in terms of the forward

estimates both the forecast and the projection years and over the medium term to 2028-29.

We will be able to have that conversation at that point. What I would say to you is that

having reviewed all the information, having reviewed all of the data, having reviewed the

beneficial impact of our decisions so far to reduce expenditure growth and to put the

economy on a stronger foundation and trajectory for the future on the back of stronger

revenue and lower expenditure in other areas, we have come to the view that we are able

to fully fund the NDIS without an increase in the Medicare levy. The final point I would

make, all of you who are now arguing that perhaps we should have kept the increase in the

Medicare levy in place, well what use is an increase in the Medicare levy that cannot get

through the Senate where we are not able to collect the money at any point in time anyway.


You are going to be one of the key people within Malcolm Turnbull’s team

organising the next election. There are reports out of Victoria about factional in-fighting

there affecting pre-selections. How damaging is it that that sort of stuff is a) happening and

b) leaking out to the media?


That is your commentary. As far as I am concerned in the lead up

to any election, all of us, who want to put our hand up to represent our communities, we

have got to go through a two stage process. We have to win the confidence of our relevant

party organisations. We have to win the confidence of the Australian people. That is the

same this time. From time to time there are contests. Those contests I am very confident

will work themselves out.


Just one more question on the beer tax. Labor, Anthony Albanese is taking

credit for this one. Saying it is good that the Coalition has paid attention to his demands in

the industry. Is this another Labor policy that the Coalition has picked up on?


The Labor party used to have a policy to reduce business tax rates

to twenty-five per cent. Bill Shorten was one of the most succinct, most eloquent, crispest

advocates of the need to reduce business tax rates, not just for small business but for all


businesses, including big business, to twenty-five per cent. Bill Shorten is the guy that kept

telling us that a lower business tax rate will help attract more investment, create more jobs

and deliver higher wages. But Bill Shorten is the wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble jelly on a

plate of Australian politics. He is incredibly fickle. He is not able to keep to a policy position

that he knows to be right. The Coalition needs to continue to stand up for what is right

when it comes to tax policy.


You’ve picked up on the company tax there. But my question was explicitly

about the excise issue that you have now decided to adopt.


The Coalition makes judgements always across all public policy

areas based on what we believe to be right, based on what we believe to be in the public

interest. We do not focus on the politics. We let Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten and all

of these other people focus on the politics. We make decisions based on what we believe

is right. I would just again remind you that Bill Shorten advocated strongly for the need of a

lower business tax rate, down to twenty-five per cent for all businesses, because he said it

would lead to more investment, more jobs and higher wages over time. Instead of being the

wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble jelly on a plate Bill Shorten should start to think about what is

in the national interest.

Thank you.


Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance, Perth