Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance and the Public Service
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
MATHIAS CORMANN: Labor still have not learned that a strong economy is central to everything.
Tonight, Bill Shorten had no plan to keep our economy strong. Instead, he put forward an agenda for over $200 billion in higher taxes. On retirees, housing, income, investments, small and family business, electricity, you name it. That would harm the economy, put jobs at risk and hurt families.
The truth is Labor does not know how to manage money. That is why they are coming after yours.
Labor has not delivered a surplus since 1989. In fact, when Labor was last in government for six years, they delivered six record deficits totalling $240 billion. We have finally turned the corner. We are back on track and back in the black. We are delivering a surplus in 2019-20. This is not the time to go back. This is not the time to go back to the discredited Labor ways of the past.
Australia cannot afford Labor. Happy to take questions.
QUESTION: There are ten million workers who are getting either the same or bigger tax cuts under Labor, as well as being promised bigger surpluses, more money on schools and hospitals. Why would they vote for you?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Firstly, Labor has not delivered any details or any costings tonight. Look at Labor's track record. Labor’s track record is to weaken the economy, drive the unemployment rate up and get the Budget into a mess. What we have had tonight was an agenda for $200 billion in higher taxes. $200 billion in higher taxes on retirees, on housing, on income, on investment, on small and family business, on electricity. $200 billion in higher taxes that would harm the economy, which would put jobs at risk. $200 billion in higher taxes, which would lead to a weaker economy, fewer jobs, higher unemployment and on the back of higher unemployment, lower wages for people across Australia.
QUESTION: What do you make of the $2.3 billion Medicare Cancer Fund? And is that difficult to argue against?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have made significant investments in better treatment and better access to high-quality medicines for cancer patients across Australia. What I would point out is that when Labor was last in government, not only did they deliver $240 billion in total deficits over a 6-year period, they also stopped listing medicines, recommended medicines on the PBS because they ran out of money, literally. They delayed the listing of key medicines until fiscal conditions permitted. Our track record is one where we have listed $10 billion worth of new medicines on the PBS. About 2,000 new medicines. Many new medicines for cancer treatment. We are always doing as much as we can in relation to all of these very important and essential services that Australians rely on. Let me just say this, a strong economy is central to everything. Everything that Bill Shorten is promising comes with $200 billion in higher taxes, which will make the economy weaker, which will make Australians poorer. We are delivering all of the things that we are delivering on the back of a stronger economy instead of higher taxes.
QUESTION: Is it not a good idea, though, cancer treatments?
MATHIAS CORMANN: You cannot trust anything that Labor is saying because they are not giving you any details. There are no details, no costings. It is always a good idea to continue to fund essential services Australians rely on. That is not what Labor was doing last time. That is not what they will be doing next time. He is putting forward an agenda of $200 billion in higher taxes that will make the economy weaker, that will make Australians poorer.
QUESTION: So they can’t afford it?
MATHIAS CORMANN: In the end, a strong economy is central to everything. We can afford providing significant boosts in funding for health and for better access to health services, significant boosts in funding for cancer treatments, significant boosts in funding for Medicare, for hospital services and the like because we can afford to do so on the back of a stronger economy.
QUESTION: Why haven’t you done a plan like this? You have been here for six years.
MATHIAS CORMANN: We have. When Labor was last in Government, they left behind a weakening economy, rising unemployment and a Budget position that was rapidly deteriorating. Labor had stopped listing medicines on the PBS because they could no longer afford it. They ran out of money. So these are just empty promises without any costings or details. Bill Shorten, if he is fair dinkum, should release all of the costings and all of the detail underpinning the spending promises he made, which are all coming with a $200 billion price tag imposed on the Australian people.
Thank you very much.