Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
MATHIAS CORMANN: Between now and the end of next week Labor has the opportunity to do the right thing by families by supporting our child care reforms, to make access to child care more affordable, more flexible for families. They have the opportunity to do the right thing in terms of jobs by supporting our proposals for a more competitive business tax rate, because that would boost investment, boost productivity, boost growth, help businesses across Australia create more jobs and over time pay better wages. We are calling on Bill Shorten and the Labor party to stop the politicking, to start reflecting on what they know would be the right thing to do in our national interest, to support our more flexible child care arrangements, to support our reforms to make access to child care more affordable, more flexible for families and to support our job creating reforms to business taxation, which will help business across Australia create more jobs, better jobs, better paid jobs.
Happy to take questions.
QUESTION: Minister, it is plainly clear that you are not going to get all of that omnibus bill through. How much ground are you willing to cede to see some of those measures pass Parliament?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are committed to 100 per cent of the measures that are reflected in the Budget and 100 per cent of the measures that we took to the last election and put to the Australia people at the last election. Having said that, we understand that we do not have a majority in the Senate. We are working with other Senators, non-Government Senators represented in the Senate. We will seek to get as much of our agenda through as possible, to put the economy, to put the Budget on the strongest possible foundation for the future.
QUESTION: How long do you think you are willing to let it drag on for?
MATHIAS CORMANN: This is the fortnight when we have listed both the social services omnibus savings bill, as well as our child care reforms, as well as our ten year enterprise tax plan. Our intention is to deal with these important pieces of legislation over this current fortnight.
QUESTION: How common do you think racial harassment is in Australia?
MATHIAS CORMANN: In relation to the issue related to 18C, as you are aware, there has been a committee of the Parliament which has looked at all of the issues. Many of these issues have been well ventilated in recent months. There have been some high profile cases, like the case at Queensland University, like the case in relation to the Bill Leak cartoon. A committee of the Parliament has looked at all of these matters, made some recommendations to the Government. The Government has been considering these recommendations. There will be some discussions in the party room. Once we have finalised all of these deliberations relevant announcements will be made.
QUESTION: Did you know it was international day for removing racial discrimination?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is very important not to have racial discrimination, to keep working to remove any racial discrimination. What is also important is to ensure that our relevant laws are effective, are workable and have broad community support.
QUESTION: What position will you be taking to the party room today?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The position that is put to the party room is the position that has been put forward by the Cabinet. It is going to be a matter for the party room to determine.
QUESTION: Does the Government have the political capital to be fighting this type of battle in marginal seats where perhaps there is a higher rate of immigrants?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Government is focused on doing the right thing. The Government is always focused, in relation to any issue, on a assessing all of the facts, assessing all of the information and making judgements on the right way forward. That is what we have done on this occasion. There has been a very good inquiry by the Human Rights Committee of the Parliament. That has fleshed out all of the issues. It has made very sensible recommendations, recommendations which the Government has considered, which now with our response to those recommendations will be considered by the party room. I would expect some announcements very soon thereafter.
QUESTION: Are you disappointed that so much oxygen has been sucked out of the debate by 18C? Surely?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It sounds like you are disappointed. As far as we are concerned, there are a whole range of issues every single day that as a Government we have to deal with. On behalf of the Australian people we make judgements on the right way forward, on the best way forward for our country. Ultimately we are not commentators, we are those that have the responsibility to make decisions and continue to focus on doing the best we can for Australia.