Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
MATHIAS CORMANN: Australians voted for income tax relief for all working Australians. That is what we will continue to work to deliver. Australians voted against the politics of envy because they know that makes Australia weaker and Australians poorer.
We took our plan to the last election. We will deliver on that plan. The question is one for Anthony Albanese. Does he really want to persist with the politics of envy when that was so comprehensively rejected by the Australian people, by standing in the way of legislating income tax relief for all working Australians.
We will work with the Parliament to deliver on our plan. But the question really is one for Anthony Albanese to answer.
QUESTION: Pauline Hanson says that she won’t support your entire tax package at this stage. So will the Government have any choice but to break it?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We will not break up our plan for income tax relief for all working Australians. We have had this same conversation back in 2018 when we put to the Parliament our first seven year comprehensive plan for income tax relief. Our plan to deliver lower income taxes for all working Australians is a key part of our plan to build a stronger economy to deliver a stronger future for all Australians. A stronger economy, a stronger future for all Australians is particularly important for low and middle income earners, for low and middle income earners wanting to get ahead. They will do much better when the economy does better. That is what Australians voted for. Australians rejected the politics of envy at this most recent election, because Australians understand that the politics of envy makes our country weaker and makes Australians poorer. That is why we will continue to do everything we can to deliver on the promise that we made to the Australian people to deliver income tax relief for all working Australians. Our plan is a comprehensive plan. It prioritises low and middle income earners. It addresses bracket creep because bracket creep is a drag on the economy and it also simplifies our tax system. Importantly, it delivers income tax relief to all working Australians in a way that is affordable and fiscally responsible.
QUESTION: If you won’t break up the package would you negotiate with Senator Hanson because she said she is willing to negotiate. She has other priorities.
MATHIAS CORMANN: We do not ever provide a running commentary on our engagement with non-Government Senators. Our door is open to all non-Government Senators. Labor, the Greens, any party represented and elected by the Australian people. The most important question is a question for Anthony Albanese. Will he just persist with Labor’s failed politics of envy, which was so comprehensively rejected by the Australian people at the last election, by standing in the way of the income tax relief that Australians voted for, or will he show to the Australian people that he has learned and listened by embracing the plan that we took to the election and that Australians supported.
QUESTION: If you won’t break up any part of the package, there won’t be any tax cuts [inaudible]…
MATHIAS CORMANN: What you have just put to me is what journalists put to us back in June 2018. A few weeks later the Australian Parliament passed our seven year income tax relief plan, all three stages of it, after a lot of speculation and commentary that that would not happen. We took a plan to the election. The Australian people voted for income tax relief for all hard-working Australians. It is incumbent on the Senate, all parties in the Senate, to respect the verdict of the Australian people at the last election. That is what we will continue to work on, to ensure that the verdict of the Australian people at the last election is respected by the Parliament.
QUESTION: How are negotiations going with Centre Alliance and Jacqui Lambie?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Again, we talk and engage with all non-Government Senators from all parties. We are not providing a running commentary on these discussions, but we are absolutely committed to deliver on the income tax relief for all working Australians as we promised we would do at the election.
QUESTION: Separate issue, the G20 Finance Ministers meeting in Japan on the weekend. There was no attempt to pressure China and the US to resolve their trade tensions. Is it a toothless forum in your view, the G20?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The G20 is a very important international economic forum. It is a great forum for all of the important nations around the world, all of the strongest economies in the world to talk to each other about the issues at hand. That is what has happened on the weekend.
QUESTION: Are you concerned though that your Budget surplus may be in doubt if these trade tensions continue, are not resolved and potentially worsen?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Australian economy faces downside risks. The Australian economy is an open trading economy. We are part of the global economy. Whatever risks are faced by the global economy are relevant to the Australian economy, which is why it is so important that we continue to do everything we can to put ourselves in the strongest possible position domestically, which is why it is so important that we pass our income tax relief plan in full. Because if we do not, Australians will go backwards. If the Australian Parliament does not pass the income tax relief plan that we took to the election, Australians will go backwards. We want Australians to have increases in take home pay by delivering on our income tax relief plan that we took to the last election. That is what we ask the Australian Senate to vote for.
QUESTION: On a separate issue, would you support a Senate Inquiry into press freedoms after last week's events?
MATHIAS CORMANN: There is a range of issues to be considered here. There will be some further statements in relation to this later in the week.
QUESTION: Will you give in to Pauline Hanson's demands to build a coal-fired power station or the Bradfield scheme?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are focused on delivering income tax relief for all working Australians, which is what Australians voted for. Australians voted for income tax relief for all working Australians. Australians rejected the politics of envy that were pursued by Bill Shorten and the Labor Party prior to the last election. That is why it is incumbent on Anthony Albanese to demonstrate to the Australian people that he has listened to them, that he has learned, that he will vote in favour of what the Australian people voted for.