Doorstop Interview, Canberra

 

Bill Shorten needs to fess up today that his claim yesterday that there would be an economic growth effect of 2.8 per cent straight away from his unfunded spending promises on education was false. Bill Shorten yesterday misled the Australian people. He needs to fess up today that he misled the Australian people when he claimed a 2.8 per cent growth effect from his unfunded spending promises on education straight away. None other than the author of the report that Bill Shorten, Chris Bowen and Tony Burke referenced has come out to explain the facts.

Firstly, the OECD report did not assess proposals to increase spending. The OECD report assessed better educational outcomes. In fact the author of the OECD report today made it very clear that there is no systematic relationship between increased spending and additional educational achievement. That is a point that the Coalition has made for some time.

Secondly, the OECD report that Bill Shorten falsely referenced did not point to a 2.8 per cent growth effect straightaway, as falsely claimed by Bill Shorten, as falsely claimed by Chris Bowen, as falsely claimed by Tony Burke. It did, indeed, point to a 2.8 per cent growth effect in 80 years, by 2095, as we have accurately pointed out earlier in the week.

Bill Shorten either doesn't understand how the economy works, he doesn't know how to read economic analysis, or he deliberately set out to mislead the Australian people.

Bill Shorten today has some explaining to do. Bill Shorten today has to fess up that he got this wrong. Bill Shorten cannot deliver when he promises additional spending on schools, because he has a $66 billion Budget black hole that so far he has not explained how he would pay for.

Every Australian knows that when Labor makes unfunded spending promises, they are left with the bill. They are left with higher taxes which hurt jobs and growth. The Coalition has a funded plan, has a plan to increase funding for schools, which is guaranteed in our Budget. We have a plan for schools which is tied to better teacher performance and to better outcomes in schools. Our plan is deliverable, it is guaranteed within the Budget. Labor is just promising pie in the sky, unfunded spending. Today, Bill Shorten's lie has been exposed for what it is.

Happy to take questions.

QUESTION:

That 2.8 per cent came from the OECD report. Are you saying that their data is wrong?

MATHIAS CORMANN:

No, it did not. What I'm saying is that Bill Shorten deliberately misrepresented the OECD data. What the OECD was pointing out, is that if certain outcomes are achieved, you could deliver 2.8 per cent additional growth, not straightaway as Bill Shorten falsely claimed yesterday, as Bill Shorten dishonestly claimed yesterday, but by 2095. By 2095, 80 years from now. So Bill Shorten today needs to fess that up that he got this wrong. No doubt he will blame Chris Bowen and Tony Burke for having badly advised him.

The important additional point is, and the author of the OECD report made that point very clearly in The Australian today, the important point is the OECD report did not assess proposals for increase spending. The OECD report did not assess proposals for increased unfunded spending promises. The OECD report assessed the economic benefit, the economic impact of better outcomes. Now, better outcomes is what the Coalition plan offers. Better outcomes is what is a central part to our plan, which is funded on a sustainable basis, which is funded on an affordable basis and which is guaranteed within our Budget.

QUESTION:

What economic gains will your policy bring?

MATHIAS CORMANN:

The enterprise tax plan which is a core part of our plan for jobs and growth will deliver a growth benefit for the Australian economy, will increase the size of the Australian economy permanently by more than 1 per cent over the medium to long term. We have been very upfront about this. We have a plan for jobs and growth. We have a plan for the economy. Labor has no plan for the economy. Labor has no plan for growth and jobs. That is why Bill Shorten yesterday sought to misrepresent the OECD report that he was referencing. That is why yesterday in desperation, Bill Shorten set out to mislead the Australian people. Unless he genuinely didn't understand what it was that the OECD report was actually saying.

QUESTION

But your education plan, what will that bring economically to Australia?

MATHIAS CORMANN:

We have not made any claim in relation to the growth effect of our education plan. We are not doing what Labor is doing. We are not misleading the Australian people the way Labor is doing. Our education plan is fully funded. It is affordable. It is sustainable. We have increased funding on schools in our Budget again. You've got to remember, Bill Shorten is making all sorts of promises now in relation to funding on schools. When he actually had control of the Budget, when he was the education minister in the bad old Rudd Labor Government just before the last election it was Bill Shorten who ripped $1.2 billion out of schools in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. So don't look at what Bill Shorten says now in the shadow of an election. Don't look at his misleading, dishonest and inaccurate claims. Look at what he actually did when he was in charge of the education Budget. He ripped money out of schools in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

QUESTION:

The Australian Education Union is ramping up their campaign on Gonski in key marginal seats like Eden-Monaro. How worried are you about that resonating?

MATHIAS CORMANN:

The Australian people want a government which delivers a plan for jobs and growth. The Australian people want a plan that helps secure our successful transition from resource investment driven growth to broader drivers of growth in a strong, new, diversified economy. The Australian people want to know that the increased funding for health, schools, for roads, that that funding is guaranteed within a Budget that is sustainable. That is our plan. People across Australia, parents across Australia, are not helped by unaffordable, unfunded, pie in the sky promises which are then justified by fanciful forecasts or by claims that quite frankly don’t stand up to scrutiny.

QUESTION

Just on a different subject. Farmers in South West Victoria met last night, a crisis meeting to respond to massive cuts in the price that big dairy corporations are going to pay for milk. One of the things they called for, they are calling for a 50 cent milk levy to be paid for by consumers. Is that something the government would support? How do you feel about that?

MATHIAS CORMANN:

I will let the Minister for Agriculture deal with matters in his portfolio.

QUESTION:

Just on that. Are you worried about the Nationals ditching your economic message?

MATHIAS CORMANN:

The Coalition, the Liberal-National Party Coalition is totally focussed on our plan for jobs and growth. We are all focussed on implementing our plan for jobs and growth. We have made significant progress since we came into government together as a coalition. When we came into government we inherited from Labor a weakening economy, rising unemployment and a Budget position that was rapidly deteriorating. Today the economy is growing at 3 per cent. Stronger than when we came into Government. Stronger than any of the G7 economies. Double the rate of growth in Canada. Employment growth is much stronger. The unemployment rate at 5.7 per cent is well below what was anticipated when we came into government and the Budget position is improving on a believable path back to surplus. So the Liberal-National Party Coalition works together very, very well. All of us in the Coalition are focussed on implementing our plan for jobs and growth for the benefit of the Australian people.

QUESTION:

But how does it work if the Nationals aren’t actually running the same line on innovation and technology because they are clinging to the old economy?

MATHIAS CORMANN:

I don’t agree with your assertion at all. What I would encourage you to do is to have a look at the National Party website where you will see that they are promoting and advocating the exact and precise same economic plan as the Liberal Party is. It’s a Coalition plan for jobs and growth. It is a plan that the Liberal and National Parties are promoting and seeking to implement together. The Liberal and National Party Coalition is working together to win the trust of a majority of people in a majority of seats so that from day one after the election on the 2nd of July, we can get cracking and continue to implement our plan.

QUESTION:

Are you concerned the declining popularity of Colin Barnett in WA is going to affect your chances winning key seats in Perth or WA?

MATHIAS CORMANN:

Colin Barnett is a very good premier. He has led a very, very good Government. The Federal Government, the Turnbull Government and the Barnett Government have worked together very well for the benefit of the people in Western Australia. I look forward to continuing to work with Colin Barnett for a long time to come.

QUESTION:

Does Malcolm Turnbull have any questions to answer over his naming in the Panama Papers?

MATHIAS CORMANN:

No is the short answer. This is more than twenty years ago. Malcolm Turnbull has not been associated with the relevant company that was named for more than twenty years. As the article in the media points out very clearly today, there is absolutely no suggestion of any wrong doing.

QUESTION:

Credit agencies are yet to give any formal warning about the AAA credit rating. Are you confident that enough has been outlined in the Budget to stop Australia losing its AAA credit rating?

MATHIAS CORMANN:

The ratings agencies only very recently confirmed Australia’s AAA credit rating. Our Budget is a responsible plan. Our Budget is on the same timetable back to surplus as in the Budget update we delivered before Christmas. Obviously I let the ratings agencies talk for themselves, but the Government has a plan for jobs and growth. The Government has a plan to secure the successful transition of our economy, to a more diversified and new economy. The Government has a plan to put the Budget on a sustainable foundation for the future. We are doing it by controlling expenditure. We are doing it by cracking down on tax avoidance. We are doing it by better targeting some of the tax concessions in our tax system.

We are looking for the trust of the Australian people to continue to implement our plan. Thank you.