Transcript - Interview on the Today Show

7:22AM

ALLISON LANGDON

More now on tomorrow's Federal Budget and one man hoping it keeps everyone happy is Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, he joins us now in Canberra. A very good morning to you, Michael.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Good morning, Alli.

ALLISON LANGDON

So, you're spending so much money, feels a bit like an election Budget.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, it's a Budget which is going to secure Australia's recovery. We all know how much the global pandemic has had such an effect on Australians lives and livelihoods and that is why the more than $10 billion that we're investing in necessary infrastructure as part of that 10-year rolling plan is going to support an additional 30,000 workers on top, Alli, of the 100,000 workers that our $110 billion investment in infrastructure is already backing and assisting and making sure we've got the roads and the rail network that Australians need.

ALLISON LANGDON

I think it's always great to invest in infrastructure but is it a coincidence that they are all in key election battle grounds?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

It's right across the Australia, right across the nation. Every state and both territories, they're getting the infrastructure that they have prioritised. When I messaged and spoke to all of the Transport Ministers across the country last night – those state and territory Ministers – they all come back to me, they're all very pleased, Labor ones included. They know, as do we all, how the community needs the best roads, that busting through congestion and even particularly in regional Australia – safer roads. Josh Frydenberg will be having more to say about funding for the 537 local councils as well as important road safety upgrades, tomorrow night at 7:30.

ALLISON LANGDON

He's had plenty to say over the last couple of days, he's been a very busy man. We did hear from him this morning too, he's banking on international travel returning next year. Do you think that's wise considering how slow our vaccine roll out has been and what is happening overseas?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

We'll take the best advice from medical experts as we've done the whole way through. We're hoping, we're counting, we're banking on, of course, international travel being back to some sort of pre-COVID normality next year. But, again, we'll take that best possible medical advice and we'll follow that at the appropriate time.

ALLISON LANGDON

It doesn't seem like the Prime Minister and the Treasurer are on the same page at the moment. You have got the Treasurer saying he wants open borders and that that’s the key to our economic recovery, while yesterday we heard from the PM that there is no appetite for opening up borders just yet.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, we’ll open up our borders when it's safe to do so. I know the Treasurer and the Prime Minister are both singing from the same sheet as far as that is concerned.

ALLISON LANGDON

I know you're saying it's not an election Budget but we did see with state leaders, closed borders are very popular. That's got to be in the back of Prime Minister's mind, don't you think?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

We want open borders, of course we do. We want our planes bringing migrants. We want planes bringing tourists. We want planes bringing people who will seek permanent residency to fill those 43,000 jobs that are going in regional Australia right now. But we'll only do it when it's safe to do so. Of course, Australia has been built on the back of migration, largely built on the back of foreigners coming in and taking jobs, taking those important jobs that are there at the moment. Australia's workers, well, they're doing the best they can. Certainly, there's 30,000 more jobs thanks to the infrastructure Budget that is going to be announced tomorrow night. But we want to make sure – we want to make sure – of course, our international borders are opened but only when it's safe to do so.

ALLISON LANGDON

The economic recovery has been quicker than, I think, anyone anticipated. Yet, we're now staring down a trillion dollar debt. Is now the time to be spending as much money as you are?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

It's spending money on vital infrastructure. It’s spending money on making sure that we bust through the congestion in the capital cities. That we've got safer roads in regional Australia. That we've got the rail freight networks that are addressing the logistics task. That's what we're doing. I have every confidence that when you look at agriculture, it grew by $6 billion on the back of a crippling drought. I have every confidence in the resource sector continuing to do what it's doing. Keith Pitt talks about it all the time, how much the resources sector is growing through our exports. We'll continue to be a trading nation. Trade means jobs, more trade means more jobs. We'll continue to back our farmers, back our miners and back our country. I have every faith in the resilience of Australians and every confidence in us paying down this debt and getting through it. Australia is the best place in all the world in which to live during this global pandemic – we've proved that. And certainly, regional Australians have been magnificent. That is why regional Australia is the best place in all of world in which to live during this insidious virus that has caused so much heartbreak right throughout the world.

ALLISON LANGDON

Why are you so confident you'll be able to pay it back? I mean, the only way is to cut back on services or put up taxes.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

We build better infrastructure. We export more and more. Agriculture is growing, we want it to be $100 billion enterprise by 2030. We're working towards that. We've got resources that the world needs and wants. Whether it's those rare earths for mobile phones, whether it's iron ore, whether it is coal. We have the resources the world wants it. I have every confidence in Australians’ ability to grow our economy.

ALLISON LANGDON

So, is this the last Budget before the next election?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Who knows? Who knows –

ALLISON LANGDON

Don’t you know?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

We'll continue to be fiscally responsible, continue to back Australians’ ability to build out of this situation that we've found ourselves in unfortunately, due to a global pandemic. But let me tell you this, this Budget is going to secure Australia's future through the recovery process and I've got every confidence in Australia's ability to do just that.

ALLISON LANGDON

Deputy Prime Minister, I can tell you this morning from Chris Uhlmann, our political editor, he tells us, breaking news, there will be an election.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Does he now? Well, there you go. I haven't seen Chris Uhlmann around the Cabinet table lately but good luck to him and of course, everybody has got a view. Everybody has an opinion on this. I'm just backing the Budget tomorrow night, it will be a good one.

ALLISON LANGDON

Spending plenty of money. Thank you for joining us.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Thank you so much.

ENDS 7:28AM

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