Senate debates

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Questions without Notice

G20 Leaders Summit

2:00 pm

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann. I refer to the minister's explanation as to why Treasurer Josh Frydenberg cancelled at the last minute his planned trip to meet with his international counterparts at the G20. The finance minister said the Treasurer is 'the deputy leader and he's got some work to do domestically'. What domestic work is preventing Treasurer Frydenberg from meeting his international counterparts at the G20?

2:01 pm

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm always very pleased when I see that members opposite read my transcripts very carefully. If Senator Wong read my transcript carefully, she would have also seen my reference to the fact that this economic team in the Liberal-National government operates as a team. I pointed to the fact that over the last three years—well, for the last three G20 leaders summits—I have been supporting the Prime Minister in Turkey, China and Germany. The judgement was made as a team that in all of the circumstances, given that this G20 leaders summit will happen on a weekend in between sitting weeks, it was appropriate for me to do what I've done for the last three leaders summits. Indeed, given that this is a weekend in between sitting weeks, it's very important that, out of the leader and the deputy leader, one of them is in Australia.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Wong, a supplementary question.

2:02 pm

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

Does Treasurer Frydenberg's domestic work include dealing with the fallout from the now Independent member for Chisholm resigning from the Liberal Party and the threat of resignation by the Liberal member for Hughes, Mr Kelly?

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

The Treasurer, of course, every single day continues to work on making our economy stronger, making sure that more jobs are created across the Australian economy and making sure that the budget is in the strongest possible foundation trajectory for the future so families around Australia have the best possible opportunity to get ahead. We want to ensure, among other things, that we can secure the necessary funding for important government services in health and education—you name it—without the need to increase taxes. We know that, under the Labor Party, taxes will go up by about $200 billion, which will hurt investment, which will hurt growth, which will put jobs at risk and which will put the budget at risk. That is, of course, precisely what Labor did last time. So the Treasurer has a lot of domestic responsibilities in relation to implementing our plan for a stronger economy and more jobs and to repair the budget. Given my past experience— (Time expired)

2:03 pm

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

This is my final supplementary question. Isn't Treasurer Frydenberg's cancellation at the last minute of his planned trip to meet his international counterparts at the G20 just another example of the chaos, division and dysfunction of the Morrison government damaging Australia's national interests?

2:04 pm

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

Absolutely not. Under this government, over the last five years, the Treasurer and the finance minister have shared international and domestic responsibilities as appropriate. Earlier this year I attended the G20 finance ministers' meeting in Washington and Treasurer Frydenberg attended the G20 finance ministers' meeting in Bali. I have attended every single G20 leaders' summit with Prime Minister Turnbull over the last three years, and I'll be doing the same on this occasion, supporting Prime Minister Morrison, and I'm very much looking forward to the opportunity.