07/08/2020 - 13:27

'Let's see': Cormann on OECD role

07/08/2020 - 13:27


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Mathias Cormann has given a strong hint he’s exploring leading the OECD after politics, while cautioning Australia's international border closure could continue until late 2021.

'Let's see': Cormann on OECD role
Mathias Cormann at the Business News Politics & Policy breakfast. Photo: Matt Jelonek

Mathias Cormann has given a strong hint he’s exploring leading the OECD after politics, at a Business News breakfast today, while cautioning Australia's international border closure could continue until late 2021.

There has been speculation Senator Cormann, who recently announced he would leave politics in December, might head to Paris to take on the role as secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Mexican economist Jose Angel Gurria commenced in the role in 2006 and will retire in mid-2021.

“The OECD is a very important organisation,” Senator Cormann said.

“It's not a job that Australia allocates, let's see.”

'Let's see' is the most forthcoming comment Senator Cormann has made so far on the OECD role, although he also said his wife, Hayley Cormann, and family, were entrenched in WA.

Ms Cormann was recently appointed to the board of Perth Children’s Hospital.

Senator Cormann did strongly rule out a future in state politics, however.

When asked if he agreed with recent comments by Premier Mark McGowan that international borders might stay closed until the end of 2021, Senator Cormann said it was possible.

“The premier is right,” he said.

“I don't think anyone can predict at the moment when international travel will go back to some semblance of normal.

“We've got about 250,000 new cases internationally a day

“This thing has got a way to go.

“Despite what's happening in Victoria, we continue to be in a comparatively good (health) situation.

“In the rest of the world things are pretty tough.

“It's hard to see when you can open yourself up to that in a normal way.”

At a local level, Clive Palmer should reconsider his High Court case about the WA border, Senator Cormann said.

“Given what has been happening in Victoria, given where the country is at, what I would say to Clive Palmer is please reconsider proceeding with this case,” he said. 

“Seriously consider pulling out. 

“In fact the people of Western Australia would be very grateful if you stopped going ahead with this case. 

“Just a message to Clive Palmer

“These borders are very important for the people of Western Australia. 

“Please just drop this case and make sure that the current arrangements can remain in place.”

The only way to resolve the issue swiftly was for Mr Palmer to pull out, Senator Cormann said.

Economic management

Senator Cormann said he was most proud of successfully balancing the budget for the 2019 financial year, and fixing the GST distribution for Western Australia.

But he regretted failing to secure the passage of the complete company tax reform package through the senate.

“I think that was important for our economic future,” Senator Cormann said.

He said the government would need to find an alternative way to attract investment into Australia in the aftermath of the pandemic.

This morning, the government announced a change to the criteria for the JobKeeper wage subsidy, which would enable more businesses to receive it in the December quarter.

Businesses with a significant decline in September quarter turnover will now qualify for the payment in the December quarter.

The cost of the package will now be about $101.3 billion, according to the federal government.

One thing definitely off the agenda is monetising the deficit by printing cash, which has recently been floated by some economic analysts, including Alan Kohler.

That would mean a move away from selling bonds to investors to finance deficits, with the Reserve Bank of Australia picking up the tab directly.

“It’s crazy,” Senator Cormann said.

“People laugh at me when I point to extreme examples, but every extreme example is the result of being on the wrong trajectory over an extended period.

“If you start printing money the way (some commentators) are suggesting.. why do people think doing the same that has been done before would suddenly lead to different outcomes?

“If you start printing money and saying it doesn't really matter, you weaken the value of your currency, you weaken the resilience of your economy, it’s a crazy proposition.

“I can’t believe there are mainstream people starting to pursue it.”


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