Election Debate

Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann and the Hon Tony Burke MP
'Campaign Countdown: Half Time'
Wednesday, 8 June 2016
Arrive from 11.30am, lunch 12 noon, speaker 12.30 concludes 1.30pm

Registrations for this event are now closed. Please contact reception for further details.

Mathias Cormann and Tony Burke will debate the key election campaign issues as we head to July 2, under the watchful eye of National Press Club President Chris Uhlmann.


Mathias CormannSenator the Hon Mathias Cormann has been the Minister for Finance, first in the Abbott Government and now in the Turnbull Government, since 18 September 2013.

Mathias was appointed as the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate on 20 September 2015.

On 18 February 2016 Mathias was also formally appointed as Special Minister of State having acted in the role since 29 December 2015.

He has represented the State of Western Australia in the Senate since June 2007.

In Opposition, he held the positions of Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health Administration (2008-09), Shadow Minister for Employment Participation, Apprenticeships and Training (2009-10) and Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Shadow Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation (2010-13).

He also chaired the Senate Select Committees on Fuel and Energy (2008-10) and the Scrutiny of New Taxes (2010-11).

Mathias was born in Belgium and decided to migrate to Australia permanently after first visiting Perth in 1994, attracted by the great lifestyle and opportunities on offer in Western Australia.

Before migrating to Perth, Mathias had graduated in law at the Flemish university of Louvain (Leuven).

He has worked as a Ministerial Chief of Staff to WA State government Ministers, as Senior Adviser to then Western Australian Premier Richard Court and as an Adviser to then Justice and Customs Minister Chris Ellison.

Between 2003 and 2007 Mathias worked for major Western Australian health insurer HBF in a range of senior management roles, including as General Manager HealthGuard and as General Manager of HBF Health Insurance.

In 2001, realising a childhood dream, Mathias obtained his Private Pilots Licence through the Royal Aero Club of Western Australia.

Having joined the Liberal party in Western Australia in 1996, Mathias was elected Senior Vice President of the Perth Division in 2000, State Vice President in 2003 and State Senior Vice President in 2004, a responsibility he fulfilled until March 2008.

Mathias is married to Hayley, a lawyer with the Perth office of Clayton Utz and they have two daughters Isabelle and Charlotte.

Tony BurkeTony has lived in and around the Watson electorate all his life and completed his secondary education at Strathfield. He enjoys getting out and about in the electorate, particularly at local festivals which highlight the colour and community spirit of the Watson area

Upon election to the Federal Parliament in 2004, Tony was placed immediately on the frontbench as Shadow Minister for Small Business and Shadow Minister for Immigration.

In 2007 Tony was appointed Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Tony abolished the bulk wheat export monopoly and reformed drought assistance providing better long-term support for the nation’s farmers.

In September 2010, Tony was appointed Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities in the Gillard Labor Government. In consultation with communities, Tony was able to establish the largest marine protected area in the world.

After more than 100 years of disagreement, Tony presented a final Murray Darling Basin Plan: a Plan that restores our rivers to health, supports strong regional communities and sustainable food production.

In March 2013 Tony was appointed as Minister for the Arts.

In June 2013 Tony became the Minister for Immigration, Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship. Tony was able to ensure the release of more than 400 children from community detention during the less-than-four-months he held the Immigration portfolio.

Currently, Tony holds the Shadow Minister for Finance portfolio and is Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives.

Tony is a keen Canterbury Bulldogs fan and enjoys kayaking in local national parks.