Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
JESSICA STRUTT: Senator, thanks very much again. In your own words you have gone on a sort of blitz here in The West Australian with these adverts. In your own words, what is the purpose of these ads? Is it about trying to woo West Australian voters ahead of the next Federal election?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Federal Government is delivering thousands of new jobs to Western Australia, because we have committed to build 31 new naval vessels in Western Australia. Compare that to Labor’s record. Labor did not build a single vessel in Western Australia. In fact, Federal Labor is anti-WA. People have to remember, when Federal Labor last was in Government here in Canberra, they gave us the anti-WA mining tax, they gave us chaos at our borders. They talk the talk when it comes to Western Australia, but they fail to deliver. This is ... interrupted
JESSICA STRUTT: We are a long way out from the election though. Are you worried if you are going, if the Liberal party is funding these adverts this far out and in this sort of proportion, it is all over The West Australian newspaper here, The West Australian online, it is all over social media. Are you concerned about your chances in terms of keeping West Australian voters on side, Senator.
MATHIAS CORMANN: The McGowan Government has been misleading the people of Western Australia when it comes to the Federal Government’s commitment to Western Australia, when it comes to naval shipbuilding. We think it is very important for people in Western Australia to have the facts. That is why we are putting the facts out there. The facts are that this Government, our Government has committed to build 31 new vessels in Western Australia. Under Labor, not a single vessel was built in Western Australia. We think it is very important for people across Western Australia to understand that.
JESSICA STRUTT: The Premier here though and also the Defence Industry Minister Paul Papalia though say that your ads are the ones that are misleading. They, today the Premier said the advert, particularly the reference to fifty per cent of work that appears to be implied through the advert is quote ‘totally misleading and a lie’, is that a lie?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Absolutely not. The ads are absolutely factual. The Premier is embarrassed by Labor’s record in Western Australia. He knows that Federal Labor is anti-WA. He knows that when Labor was last in government in Canberra, they gave us the anti-WA mining tax, they delivered chaos at our borders. He understands that Federal Labor has got a very bad reputation in WA. He does not want to see the facts. The facts are that under our Government, the Turnbull Government, we have consolidated and we have locked in Western Australia as one of two naval shipbuilding sites around Australia. That is 50 per cent of the naval shipbuilding sites around Australia will be in Western Australia. We will deliver thousands of new jobs in Western Australia, because we have committed to building 31 new naval vessels in WA. Labor zero, the Coalition, 31.
JESSICA STRUTT: I understand the point you are making there about Western Australia being 50 per cent of the States, so as in one of two States getting work. But the advert according to Labor and anyone who reads the paper would probably be more likely to be interpreted as you are making out that 50 per cent of work is coming to Western Australia. You do not think that it is just slightly misleading in anyway?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The ads are very clear. The ads provide very important information to the people of Western Australia. What the ads demonstrate to people of Western Australia is that the Federal Government is delivering thousands of new jobs to Western Australia because we have committed to building 31 new naval vessels in Western Australia. The Coalition committed to 31 new vessels being built in Western Australia. Labor delivered zero vessels built in Western Australia. What we would say to Mr McGowan, start working with us instead of spreading misleading information into the Western Australian community.
JESSICA STRUTT: Is it not true though that of the contracts that have already been offered, WA has actually secured just three per cent of the work? And I know you are saying that we might get some other parts of it along the way, under the existing contracts that have been announced according to Labor, it is just three per cent of the work.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Mark McGowan is misleading the Western Australia community for partisan purposes. He knows and he is embarrassed that Federal Labor has got such an anti-WA track record. They gave us the anti-WA mining tax, they gave us chaos at our borders, they did not commit to a single vessel being built in Western Australia. The Liberal National party Government here in Canberra has committed to build 31 new vessels in WA. That is something that the Premier does not want to recognise, but it is information that we believe is very important to get into the public domain to ensure the West Australian community is well informed.
JESSICA STRUTT: Can I just also clarify, obviously these ads have authorised by yourself, but they are being funded wholly, just because the Premier has asked the question today, they are being funded wholly by the WA Liberal Party, I am assuming?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The ads that I am running through The West Australian are funded by the Liberal Party. They are funded by my campaign.
JESSICA STRUTT: Sorry, just one more as well Senator. The Premier also made some comments in relation to GST. He said there is a clear and present danger to your survival in WA if you do not do something to fix WA’s GST share. Do you agree that it is the most pertinent issue to West Australian voters and that you could face electoral backlash if something is not fixed before 2019’s Federal Election?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Again, Mark McGowan is embarrassed by Federal Labor’s record. He knows that Federal Labor is ant-WA. They did nothing in relation to the GST during their period in Government. They gave us the anti-WA mining tax and they gave us chaos at our borders. As the Federal Government we recognised that WA’s share of the GST was unacceptably low. That is why we stopped the drop and made more than $1.2 billion worth of top-up payments to Western Australia. That is why we have commissioned the Productivity Commission inquiry into the effects on national productivity and growth of the current GST sharing arrangements. That is why the Prime Minister has made a commitment to pursue the establishment of a floor through the Council of Australian Governments. Bill Shorten has not made a single commitment. Labor, in government federally, did nothing about this. Mark McGowan is just trying to distract from Labor’s disastrous record on this as on so many other issues for WA.
JESSICA STRUTT: Sorry Senator, just one more on the back of that, though. Labor has just had a huge win here, at least West Australian Labor. Surely that, though, would be sounding alarm bells that perhaps, though you and your Liberal colleagues may think that Labor is anti-WA, perhaps the West Australian public do not believe that?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Federal Labor’s track record is clearly anti-WA. When they last were in Government they did nothing about the GST, they gave us the anti-WA mining tax, they gave us chaos at our borders. Our Government has actually stopped the drop in WA’s share of the GST through top-up payments. We have put in place various processes to ensure that this issue can continue to be properly addressed and considered. Labor did nothing. We will continue to work hard. The WA team of Liberal Members and Senators will continue to work hard for Western Australia. We will continue to stand up for WA’s best interests, but we are not interested in Mark McGowan’s partisan commentary.
JESSICA STRUTT: Senator Cormann, thank you so much for your time and it is obviously going to be a long couple of years ahead.