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Mathias in “Cormann The Unawarian”!

Ok, it’s probably unfair to use Schwarzenegger references when talking about Mathias Cormann. Apart from their accents, they have very little in common. One is a respected politician while the other is a bad actor who has trouble finding roles where he seems believable. Ok, perhaps not everyone agrees with his politics but his time as governor of California qualifies Arnie as a respected politician in my book.

Speaking of Arnold Schwarzenegger, what was your favourite Schwarzenegger film? The Terminator? Collateral Damage? The Running Man? True Lies? Cormann The Barbarian?

Anyway, enough about Arnie; it’s Mathias Cormann I want to talk about. He is, after all, our Finance Minister and what I’m reading today makes me very worried that he holds that role. According to reports, Mathias went on a holiday which he didn’t pay for until the media asked him why he didn’t pay for it.

Now, I want to make it clear that I’m not suggesting anything untoward here. Even though the firm was awarded a billion dollar government contract, and Senator Cormann’s holiday was booked under the “family and staff travel” account, mistakes like that happen all the time. Obviously, the person booking the holiday saw Mathias and thought, “You look familiar, so you probably work here.”

No, I’m sure that it was just a simple mistake and that there was no link between the fact that it was the Liberal Party Treasurer who controls the company and them getting the contract because, well, like Paladin, these decisions are all made by public servants and ministers have nothing to do with the awarding of contracts.

No, it’s clear that everything is all above board when it comes to the things I’ve mentioned. The reason I’m worried that Senator Cormann is our Finance Minister is because, in my limited understanding of the role, that means he has something to do with money. This is a concern because apparently, he didn’t notice that the hadn’t been charged for the trip.

Personally, I can understand this. I sometimes forget to check my dockets and go home to find that the item on special was charged at the full rate. And sometimes no doubt I’ve gone home and not checked my receipt at all and haven’t been aware that the bottle of wine I thought I was paying ten dollars for actually cost $328 and it’s not like I’d notice such a thing when my credit card bill was due.

But then I’m not Minister for Finance. You’d think someone like that would check something like a holiday to make sure that he wasn’t overcharged through some administrative error. After all, administrative errors happen all the time… like putting it in the family and staff account. So you’d really think that someone who deals with finance would be checking their own credit card and if they don’t, then are they really suited to the role?

Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh. It was only $2780.82 after all, Who hasn’t missed an amount that trifling on your statement? But I still feel like he should be held to a higher standard than the rest of us. I mean, if Liberals are that careless with their personal finances, can we be sure that they haven’t forgotten to include something in the Budget and we’ll find that the projected surplus will evaporate because they forgot to include politicians’ travel costs?

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  1. John O'Callaghan

    $2780.82 I have never heard of 1st class air fares for a whole family to Europe going that cheap! Something is rotten and it aint in bloody Denmark….. or belgium….

  2. Roy Edwards

    Once again a LIBERAL getting in for his “chop” before he is in for his “chop”. I sincerely hope this is aired where it CAN be heard; I am posting it to Facebook- not much I agree, but if we ALL did this…………?. I actually thought he was the best of the bunch, aside from the HAPPY HENCHMAN HOEDOWN debacle with MALCONTENT TURNCOAT, SCAT MORRISON and PETER MUTTON…….but then a wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a…………………….

  3. John Hermann

    Why would you expect a person heavily involved in political plotting and organising a coup to depose a popular prime minister to have a good memory for details?

  4. Diannaart

    “The Terminator” without a doubt.

    And totally agree, Schwarzenegger an even better politician than expected.

    What was the article about, again? The wibble-wobble man … another article about another LNP snout in trough …

    What more can be said? Labor is just as bad? Labor is not perfect, but their imperfections merely highlight the complete and utter bastardry of the LNP.

  5. Frank Smith

    And Conman goes directly to the CEO of Helloworld to book his holiday travel who then spends hours scrolling through all those airline schedules to get Conman the very best deal but who then somehow forgets to charge Conman’s credit card. If this is what CEO’s spend their time on, perhaps their salary should be reduced to that of the agents at the front desk who are likely to do the job far more efficiently. Now come on Conman, both you and your Liberal Party treasurer CEO mate are stretching the lines of credulity – that is obviously obvious to all us mere rabble!

    And who audits the Helloworld books? The $2780 travel had not been paid for for 15 months or so.

  6. Kronomex

    Malfunctioning RAM memory chip? Too much vibble-vobble in the chip slot so it always “shorts out” when a situation with graft and corruption arises. Then the Sergeant Schultz module kicks in until they get The Corminnator back to the Liberaldyne factory for a quick repair.

  7. helvityni

    I like Arnie, the governor of California, a believer in the Climate Change, and that alone makes him a better man than Trump and our own PM put together….

    ( Hubbie throws receipts away, and of course he gets shitty when he has bought something totally useless and can’t return it…
    Now all the cashiers, and the owners of local shops pass the receipt to me, and give me an understanding smile…)

    I never liked the MR ‘Let- me- explain’….There’s not one amongst that sorry lot with a sense of humour, they believe in bullying and belittling, and laugh only when they get away with their misdemeanours/sins…they are all BELIEVERS….

    Women and brown people ( Emma and Dastyari) are chased away….none of their own…???

  8. Bronte ALLAN

    Yet another of these “fine” liberal/country party so-called “politician”–I use this term advisedly! Poor old Corminator, he “forgot” (?) to pay for his bloody family holiday! Well, he is a “really” busy man, what with having to take his shoes & socks off to enable him to count past 10. Poor bugger, he really “deserves” a break–maybe across his nose or somewhere? Sadly, yet jut another of these “fine” (??) so-called “liberal/country party” people who really does need a lesson in how to manage money properly. Oh, that’s right, he is our so-called “treasurer” (?), so he must be correct in his”money handling” duties, NOT!! Great article, as usual, Rossleigh!

  9. New England Cocky

    Not much of a Finance Minister, not much of a coup counter, not much of a politician, (explaining why he joined the Liarbral Party where standards begin at the floor and go down) … not much of a man.

  10. Henry Rodrigues

    There is not much that the conman can put up as a credible defense or “excuse” except to admit with hand on his heart, to the Australian taxpayer, ” Isn’t that the behaviour one expects from a coalition hypocrite ? Liberal party orthodoxy, what’s good for the goose is definitely not something that the gander can rely on.” Just like that screaming banshee, Cash form the west. Every single one of them, of both sexes, come from the same putrid, stinking mould.

  11. Frank Smith

    This is the same arrogant Conman photographed celebrating with Joe Hockey smoking cigars after the Horror Budget. Better check your credit card statement Conman before you go lighting up your next Havana – you might not have paid for it.

  12. Terence

    Good analogy!

    Minor correction – Penny Wong let the $1m contract.

  13. RosemaryJ36

    John O’C – I may be wrong but I thought the trip was to Singapore.

  14. Lambert Simnel

    Helvityn raised a great point. Dastyari was hounded out for something on this scale and it went on for weeks.

    Yet Corman pays no price for his “mistake”, any more than Cash for lying about a setup job to falsely smear a political rival.

  15. New England Cocky

    Where is the MSM whipping up a frenzy of self righteous indignation at the abuse of power and personal avarice demonstrated by a misgovernment politician? Oh, silly me ….. the MSM is owned by foreign multinational corporations representing the best interests of overseas shareholders.

    Now if it was a Labor politician …..

    It’s time ….. again!!

  16. Kyran

    Or there was this one, which broke in January, about $37k to travel to Adelaide to lobby some independents about proposed tax cuts. As with most things to do with this government, the proposal was cut, and the policy remains on ‘life support’.

    It also shouldn’t be forgotten that Cormann was the ‘special’ minister of state who presided over the collection of all monies owing from the various politicians who caused by-elections due to their ineligibility to stand. The millions of dollars they clocked up in salary and expenses were tabulated and sent to them with a ‘please, please, pretty please, will you consider repaying the money you were paid?’ to which they resoundingly, unanimously and unequivocally said ‘yeah, nah’. For any of the rest of us, the charge would likely be ‘receiving financial advantage by deception’, the penalty for which is up to ten years ‘board and keep’ at a correctional facility. What would happen to a Centrelink claimant?

    As for the extent of Cormann’s inadequacy, how long is a piece of string? This one would appear to be at least several kilometres long. From the G and (presumably) Hansard, it went like this.

    At 11.30 am, the interchange was reported thus;

    “Kimberley Kitching is leading the questioning of Mathias Cormann at the moment:
    KK: So, could I go to the details of the Fairfax story this morning? The overseas trip. Did you book the travel in July 2017?
    MC: Yes.
    KK: Did you personally book it?
    MC: Yes.
    KK:Your office didn’t book it?
    MC: No.
    KK: So you, yourself, booked it?
    MC: I personally booked it. I personally supplied my credit card details. I personally gave the instruction for the flight booking to be charged to my credit card. I thought that that had happened, but you know, I know that the question is going to be asked – didn’t you keep an eye on your credit card?
    I should have, is the truthful answer, but what I would offer by way of explanation, if not by way of an excuses that with the extensive travel that I do undertake on a weekly basis, there’s a lot of travel-related expenditure that goes through my credit card and having made the booking, having given and having provided the credit card details and given the instruction for the payment to be deducted, I assumed that that had happened.
    The travel did not take place until sometime later and certainly, by the time that the … that I undertook the travel, I was 100% confident that payment had been made. In fact, when the issue was first brought to my attention yesterday, I was 100% confident that payment had been made until I was confronted with some information which was sent to me from within an internal system of the Helloworld business which led me to, of course, in my understanding … I hasten to adhere, and I’ve addressed this in my statement. At no point did I receive any reminders of an outstanding payment required. So as far as I was concerned, I had provided my credit card details when the booking was made and I assumed that the payment had been processed and you know, my experience in general terms, if I have forgotten to pay something, I do get reminder notices. It does happen, it can happen from time to time when you’re on the road a lot.
    But I did not receive any reminder notices over an extended period until such time that it was raised with me yesterday, and on verification, I ascertained the facts that I outlined in my statement and as soon as I became aware that the payment remained outstanding I made sure that the payment was processed immediately. There can’t be any suggestions at all that this was ever intended to be free travel or that it was free travel. It wasn’t. There was obviously a charge carried in the system and within the business against that travel, a charge that I assumed had been processed against my credit card, but it turns out that it hadn’t.”

    A major publicly listed company’s credit control is so woeful it doesn’t even follow up its own debts. It makes the card holders lackadaisical approach to his credit card statement almost acceptable, his employment as finance minister notwithstanding. The 11.35 am update was even betterer.

    “And then the answers take a turn, with Mathias Cormann admitting he has booked his trips through the Helloworld CEO and Liberal party treasurer, Andrew Burnes. Directly.
    Kimberley Kitching: With whom did you speak?
    Mathias Cormann: With Mr Burnes.
    KK: You spoke with Mr Burnes? He’s the managing director? Isn’t that correct?
    MC: Yes.
    KK: Of an ASX-listed travel company and made a booking?
    MC: I made arrangements there.
    KK: [He’s the CEO of a company] and he took your travel booking?
    MC: I can only tell you what happened. I made the booking through Helloworld, engaging with Mr Burnes, that’s right. And I provided my credit card details and I asked for payment to be made and I was assured that this would happen.”

    Ok, when the CEO of a publicly listed company undertakes the functions of a booking clerk, we should probably be grateful. He’s one of the little people! At 11.45 am, the fun continued.

    “Kimberley Kitching: Is this the only discussion you have had with Mr Burnes relating to travel where he’s also taken your travel booking?
    Mathias Cormann: I believe that I’ve booked travel through Helloworld on three occasions and on each occasion, the payment, I’ve verified, the payment was processed.
    Then Penny Wong got involved.
    PW: I think that Senator Kitching’s question went to … I mean, it is an unusual thing to call someone at his level to book flights. That says something about the relationship, Senator Cormann. But I think the question went to – how many times did you actually transact with, is it the CEO, of this large company, for the flights?
    MC: On three occasions.
    PW: So all of your personal travel, you ring him?
    MC: Well, in more recent times, that’s right.
    And then Jenny McAllister picks up the questioning.
    JA: But not just through Helloworld, sorry. You don’t just ring one of their employees, you ring the boss. Is that how it works?
    MC: Well, he was my contact that I knew at Helloworld and I made travel arrangements through him. Through his office.
    JA: That’s an odd arrangement.
    MC: Well …
    Labor: So how did it work? Did you say: I’ve got the following dates available for travel? Or my family does? And he went through and found the flights for you? This is all on the phone? How did the conversation work?
    MC: The way that it would work is that I would ask for travel bookings to be made and for me to be invoiced and charged. You know, obviously I don’t know what the arrangements are within his office.
    JA: Minister, it is a very unusual arrangement. Most Australians don’t have a direct line to the CEO of a travel company to arrange their travel bookings. How did the arrangement come out between yourself and Mr Burnes? Did he offer to facilitate your travel? Or did you approach him about becoming your travel agent?
    MC: Well, Helloworld is a travel business.
    JA: They are. But they don’t advertise the CEO’s phone number, broadly, for general public use. So I’m wondering about the circumstances that see you phoning the CEO of an organisation?
    MC: The circumstances that I organised to travel and I booked travel and I paid for it?
    Labor: How do you know Mr Burnes?
    MC: Well, I’ve known him over the years. It’s a matter of public record that he has been involved in the Liberal Party for some time.
    Labor: So how far back does your association with him go?
    MC: I’d have to take that on notice. I think … From … six or seven years, perhaps.
    Labor: But it’s only in recent times that you’ve commenced booking with him directly?
    MC: Well, the trips would have been in the last three or so years, yes.
    Labor: Right, so some time in the last three years, you moved away from whoever had previously been navigating your travel for you and you started phoning Mr Burnes directly?
    MC: I made travel bookings through Helloworld, that’s right.
    Labor: And again I ask you, who initiated the arrangement? Where the CEO would be available to you, personally, to take your call, in relation to your family holiday bookings?
    MC: To be fair, in more recent times, I had more interaction with him in the context, obviously, of his involvement with the Liberal party and that is where the occasion arose where I was able to make those bookings.
    Labor: And did he offer to you, or did you ask him, to establish such an arrangement?
    MC: Well, I take responsibilities for having made the bookings if that is the question.
    JA: I’m asking you more broadly about the arrangement. When you call him, do you call him on his mobile?
    MC: Um … I think it varies. It varies.
    Labor: So you’ve got all of his contact details?
    MC: Well, I run into him from time to time.
    Labor: Where did you meet?
    MC: Sorry?
    Labor: Where did you meet? Did you meet at a Liberal party function? Where did you meet?
    MC: I’ve known him over the years. I mean, he’s been involved … I can’t remember the first meeting. I honestly can’t.
    Labor: So, there is a point, though, where somehow, between the two of you, it becomes … Ordinary people ring Helloworld through a 1800 number, I suppose. I don’t know, I haven’t attempted to do it. But you ring the CEO on his personal mobile. I’m trying to understand how you came to be in such a relationship with Mr Burnes, where it was possible for you to ring him on his personal mobile and he would write down your credit card details?
    MC: Well, as I’ve said, I’ve known him for a number of years, going all the way back to the opposition years and obviously, it’s a matter of public record that he’s been involved at senior levels in the Liberal party for some time, which, incidentally, didn’t prevent his company from securing a contract through a merit-based proper tender process under the period of the previous Labor government.”

    At this point, third graders across the country would be getting the message that there is something a little malodourous here. The CEO of a company which does business with the government is ‘involved at senior levels with the Liberal party’, but it’s ok because it was ‘a merit-based proper tender process under a Labor government’. As opposed to the Liberal party tender process, which is where you ring up your mates and throw cash at them (not the banshee Cash, the folding kind).
    Mr Burnes profile from the company website;

    “Mr Burnes was appointed as the Honorary Federal Treasurer of the Liberal Party of Australia in July 2015. Prior to this appointment he was the State Treasurer of the Victorian Liberal Party from May 2009 to early 2011. He was appointed as a Director of Tourism Australia in July 2004 serving as Deputy Chairman from 2006 to 2009. Mr Burnes chaired the Audit and Finance Committee of Tourism Australia during this period, was a Trustee of the Travel Compensation Fund from 2005 to 2008 and a Board Member of the Australian Tourism Export Council (“ATEC”) from 1998 serving as the organisation’s National Chairman from 1999 – 2003.”

    Board Profiles

    Wait a minute! He’s a finance guru for the Liberals? What is it with Liberal’s and their financial guru’s? If he was the State Treasurer for the Liberals in Victoria at that time, he would have presided over the Damian Mantach fraud, wouldn’t he?

    What do you do with someone who missed that sort of fraud? Make him the national treasurer, of course. His appointment as Director of Tourism Australia under the Howard government must have been merit based, as he was probably replacing Morrison! That sort of explains how the relationship developed between two people who clearly have no regard for money, as long as it is someone else’s money. And we are to believe they are the better financial managers. That’s before you even start on a family of four flying to Singapore, return, for under $3k.
    As for Arnie, he would never qualify as a Liberal. His introduction of carbon pricing all those years ago would have disqualified him from any association with this pack of muppets, Swedish Chef included. The carbon pricing in California actually works!

    Thank you Mr Brisbane and commenters. Take care

  17. margcal

    From Kyran’s post ….
    what I would offer by way of explanation, if not by way of an excuses that with the extensive travel that I do undertake on a weekly basis, there’s a lot of travel-related expenditure that goes through my credit card

    This should have been picked up in Estimates.
    Exactly what travel has gone through his personal credit card?
    All that “extensive travel” – like the above linked trips to Broome, not to mention anything ‘genuinely’ work-related …. doesn’t all that go through his department?
    I simply don’t believe there would be enough personal travel expenses on his card for the presence or absence of the Singapore holiday to not stick out like a sore thumb.

  18. Lambert Simnel

    Yes, the question Corman was asked, was who initiated this rather peculiar travel and thus possibly valuable financial arrangement. A short, direct question. Corman could not have misinterpreted the question to be about how long he had known Burnes. The question was, who initiated the arrangement.

    Instead, he waffles inordinately in a way that would have shamed even Michaelia Cash.

    Would the implication have been different if Burnes had initiated the offer or if Corman himself had asked for some sort of favour?

    What was so mysterious about the issue that Corman could not answer the question itself, when it was so obvious what was being asked.?

    Does it mean some one will now have to check up on his travel expenses claims against any other Freebies from Burnes?

    Still they keep costing us.

  19. Matters Not


    what travel has gone through his personal credit card

    Perhaps the travel that might accrue frequent flyer points (FFPs) on his and her personal credit card(s) that then allow for private trips (and accommodation) when the urge arises. Won’t be raised at Estimates because both sides of the political aisle are active and willing participants.

    And don’t forget Commonwealth public servants at the highest levels who actually sign off on contracts of this nature.

  20. Greg

    Gawd this is nothing new at all , This government has been giving contracts to a company called AOT Group for years worth hundreds of millions of dollars , AOT Group was created by Andrew Burnes in 1987 . While Andrew Burnes was on the board of Tourism Australia Scott Morrison served under him before he went into politics . Andrew Burnes was also the treasurer of the Liberal party . The parent company to AOT Group is Helloworld

  21. Rossleigh

    Not sure what your point is, Greg. Are you suggesting that all ministers have been receiving free trips since 1987? Or are you suggesting that we haven’t been paying enough attention?

  22. Greg

    If you havent figured it out yet AOT ,AOTHOTELS,QBT are all owned By Helloworld aka Andrew Burnes and have been contracted as the sole government travel , hotel accommodation for whole of government since before 2013

  23. Christine

    Why doesn’t he go back where he comes from. He has DUAL citizenship and in 2018 he was awarded Germany’s Grand Cross of the Order of Merit.
    In over 50 years living in Australia I have never come across a Politician or CEO with a German accent. In the past German speakers education was regarded not equivalent to the Australian education system. Mr. Cormann would never ‘get his hands dirty’ so we can get our original citizenship back. What was the Order of Merit for ??

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