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Finance Minister to step down

Australia’s longest-serving finance minister will leave politics at the end of the year, adding that he has “left nothing on the field”.

Mr Cormann was elected in 2007 and has been in Parliament for 13 years. He has held the finance portfolio as a member of the opposition and in government, and has served as acting prime minister on several occasions.

According to the finance minister, he advised Prime Minister Scott Morrison of his decision not to recontest the next election, adding that he believed “the end of this year would be an appropriate time for an orderly transition in my portfolio”.

“Before handing over the baton, there is another six months or so of hard work to be done in this job, to help manage a responsible transition out of this coronavirus-induced crisis and to help finalise and set in train our five-year plan to maximise the strength of our economic and jobs recover,” Mr Cormann said in a statement.

“We will also need to make the many necessary decisions to re-embark on the important journey of budget repair.”

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“So, between now and the end of the year, I will be working with the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and all of my colleagues on finalising our July Economic Statement, our budget in October and our half-yearly budget update in December.”

Mr Cormann said that he would not change his mind, and that if he were to hold onto the portfolio beyond the end of this year, rather than managing an orderly transition, he would feel “honour bound” to recontest the next election – something he had already informed the Prime Minister that he did not intend to do.

He stated that serving as a senator for Western Australia and as the Australian Minister for Finance “continues to be one of the greatest privileges of my life”.

Having the opportunity to help shape the future direction of our country as part of a great team working to make our country even stronger, more prosperous and more resilient is a great honour,” he said.

“I have now spent 13 years in the Parliament giving it my everything,” Mr Cormann told reporters in Perth.

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“I have had the privilege of serving for seven years in the cabinet. Five years as part of the leadership group. I am Leader of the Government in the Senate. I have given politics absolutely everything that I had. After this, I can absolutely give you a 100 per cent guarantee that I will not run for state or federal politics in any shape or form.”

Speaking to Jim Wilson on E&OE on 2GB radio following the announcement, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: "Mathias and I came to the Parliament in the same year and we've known each other a long time. We're good friends and we've worked through six budgets together, both as Treasurer and Prime Minister and prior to that, when I was Social Services Minister, when I first went on the Budget Committee, the Expenditure Review Committee. So we've worked together probably more closely than any two members of this government.

“[H]e's been a great partner in the work that we've done and he was critical to the work we did in the Budget to get it back to balance, prior to this pandemic. Now, the fact that we've been able to respond the way we have, both on... JobKeeper, but all the other supports we've put in place, the supports for the entertainment industry, the home building industry, the work we have done to support our health system.... all of that was made possible because we've got ourselves in such a better and stable position before this all hit.

“So, of course, he's been critical there. He's been critical up in the Senate with the important legislation we've been able to pass. The tax cut to cut people's taxes and to guarantee essential services, as well as ensuring that we can continue to improve the Budget.

“And as a Western Australian, you won't find more a passionate one. He might have been born in Belgium, but I can tell you, his blood bleeds as strong as any other Western Australian. He is has patriotic zeal, not just for his own country, but for his adopted state, too.”

Noting Mr Cormann’s decision, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the media: “Mathias will leave a big hole. He’s been a fantastic, fantastic finance minister – Australia’s longest-serving finance minister – and his departure at the end of the year will be a real loss for our team because he’s been such a significant figure, and he’s been a great friend and colleague for me as well as many others.

“But I will continue to work closely with him not only on the July 23 statement, but also on the budget in October and then the MYEFO at the end of the year.”

[Related: Treasury downgrades economic outlook]

Finance Minister to step down
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