2GB Ben Fordham Live interview

BEN FORDHAM

We're a little over 24 hours out from the Federal budget, it's going to be a budget like no other. While that's happening here our most powerful ally in the world has coronavirus. Our Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is on the line. Good morning to you.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Good morning, Ben.

BEN FORDHAM

They make you work on public holidays, do they?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I work every day, Ben, like you. But it's a pleasure to actually be able to work and to be talking up the infrastructure budget, Ben. There are a lot of people who are out of work and we of course think of those people today, every day and we're working very hard to make sure that they can get back in work.

BEN FORDHAM

I'll get to the infrastructure announcement in a moment. The President of the US Donald Trump has coronavirus. This must be a worry.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well it certainly is for the US administration, indeed for America generally. Hopefully, he'll get back on track very soon and I know he's in the Walter Reed facility there. I see there's about 100 supporters going around honking their horns that must almost be off putting for him. Hopefully, he'll be fine, and he can get back and they can have the next debate with Joe Biden. They might have to do it via Zoom. That might lead to a little bit more conciliatory debate perhaps.

BEN FORDHAM

Let's see. One more sleep until the budget. We're thrilled to hear that you're bringing forward income tax cuts.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I think that'll be good news also for those people in a job. They know that it's their money, they earned it. They want more of it and they want to be able to spend it in the economy. We've found that of course from COVID 19 that with so many businesses shut down because of unnecessary border closures and the like that there's not as much money flowing around the economy. We want to put more of that money that people earn back in their own hands for their ability to be able to spend it in the economy.

BEN FORDHAM

Stage 2 and stage 3 coming forward?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

We're making sure that people have more money. We're making sure that it's their money. We want to bring it forward and of course now the pressure is on Labor. Do they support tax cuts? Do they support people having more money or do they not?

BEN FORDHAM

Well that's why I ask about stage 3, because they support stage 2 but not stage 3. So can you confirm you are bringing forward the stage 3 tax cuts?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

We want to make sure that people have more money in their pockets. So Josh Frydenberg, it's not long to wait – 7:30 tomorrow – he's going to be releasing the budget, releasing all the details of the budget. He'll have that information and a whole lot more. Certainly about of course, the infrastructure budget that we're putting in place and about apprentices, how we're backing them from today. How we're making sure that there are jobs out there. We want people to be able to take them and we want people to be able to have more money that they actually earn to be able to spend the way they want to be able to.

BEN FORDHAM

So $2.7 billion will be spent in New South Wales, including $560 million for the Singleton Bypass on the New England Highway. $360 million for the Newcastle Intercity Bypass, $120 million for the Prospect Highway upgrade. These are vital, right?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Absolutely and there's also the M1 North Smart Motorway, Anzac Bridge to Warringah, there's money for the Newell Highway. There's money for a whole lot of projects, Sydney to Newcastle fast rail planning. These are the sorts of things, these are the sorts of measures which are going to create jobs, which are going to create better connectivity which are going to get people to where they need to be sooner and safer. We know that for these sorts of building projects they create jobs, not just for those hi-vis workers on site but also for the little cafés along the way, the accommodation places. Everybody wins, everybody benefits.

BEN FORDHAM

Just on taxpayer's money, the last time we spoke, we spoke about that $33 million that was thrown at land near the new Western Sydney Airport that was only valued at $3 million. You said at the time eventually we'll look back and say what a bargain. The Prime Minister says, "I'm not happy with that outcome". Do you now accept Scott Morrison?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I wasn't happy with the outcome either, but it is what it is and certainly I know there's been a review taking place. We don't need a repeat of that sort of action. Yes, eventually a long way down the track when they're looking at more runways and more infrastructure for the Western Sydney Airport, well at least the Government owns the land and they won't have to then go and buy it at a far, far higher price than what it is valued at now and what it is even valued at the higher rate that we actually paid for it. Look, it's unfortunate. That's why there is a review taking place and we'll certainly learn from what that review tells us.

BEN FORDHAM

You were mocked last week when you suggested young Aussies could go bush and pick fruit and find love but then over the weekend I read a few stories, including one about Jack and Isabellle who met on a paw paw farm near Cairns and Jack said there's a certain romance about being out in the fields and meeting the love of your life.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Country breeze, blue sky, looking at the potential love of your life. Go and pick a peach and you may end up a pear.

BEN FORDHAM

Now listen, Scott Morrison built a chicken coop in the backyard of Kirribilli House over the weekend. Can you just explain to him as someone from the bush about foxes? Because everyone I know –

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Not content with a cubby at Kirribilli now he's building a chicken coop. That's great, it's fantastic. I know Abbey and Lily would have had something to do with this but he is a good dad doing what his family wants him to do and showing that he's just a normal everyday Aussie. Yes, you're right, the PM needs to know there are plenty of foxes about. Despite the drought there are foxes everywhere across rural and regional Australia. We don't want them getting in the hen house.

BEN FORDHAM

Good luck tomorrow with the budget. Thanks so much for joining us.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Good, thanks Ben.

Media contacts:

Jo Williamson, 0418 475 668

Dean Shachar, 0418 202 860