Cormann met standoff players

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann met libertarian groups that are now playing a major role in the United States government shutdown and potential default during a three-week overseas study tour.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann met libertarian groups that are now playing a major role in the United States government shutdown and potential default during a three-week overseas study tour.

Senator Cormann’s last meeting in Washington during a 2011 trip was with Grover Norquist, the prominent president of the Americans for Tax Reform, which asks political candidates to put in writing that they will oppose ‘‘any and all tax increases’’. Mr Norquist is also a board member of the National Rifle Association.

Senator Cormann also met six members of the Heritage Foundation, a tax-exempt think tank. The foundation’s political offshoot, Heritage Action for America, has guided efforts to withdraw funding on US President Barack Obama’s flagship healthcare policy, the Affordable Care Act.

Senator Cormann then met Matt Kibbe and Wayne Brough, of the Tea Party group Freedom Works.

A recent New York Times piece detailed how shortly after President Obama won a second term, dozens of conservative activists agreed on a blueprint to defund ObamaCare, as it is known, by cutting off financing for the federal government.

Without a deal between Democrats and Republicans to raise the cap on government borrowing, the US is set to violate its debt limit on Thursday. The prospect of the world’s biggest economy defaulting on its debt for the first time has sparked fears of another financial crisis.

Senator Cormann’s meetings, in 2011 when he was serving as Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, are detailed in his parliamentary overseas study travel report.

Senator Cormann said the trip was designed to ‘‘explore United States economic fiscal and monetary policy, the approach to financial services regulation after the global financial crisis, to discuss US policy on emissions trading and generally to develop and deepen relationships with the US’’.

‘‘Meetings during my visit to the United States provided me with very useful insights into a broad range of policy issues relevant to my area of shadow portfolio responsibilities,’’ he told former Special Minister for State Gary Gray.

‘‘Discussions with a broad cross-section of policy thinkers and practitioners in relation to the global economy, US fiscal and monetary policy, taxation and tax reform, financial services, regulation and the likely approach in the US to emissions trading will help shape my contribution to those policy issues.’’

Other meetings included CNBC On-Air editor Rick Santelli, the union-backed global investment manager Industry Funds Management and Kim Beazley, Australian ambassador to the US.

Speaking from Washington, Treasurer Joe Hockey said on Sunday that ‘‘America cannot default, it’s as simple as that’’.

Questioned on his view of Tea Party Republicans, Mr Hockey said: ‘‘Well, they are engaging in extreme tactics. And the lesson for us is to understand that it should never get to this point.

‘‘America can no longer afford its lifestyle ... and the frustration of a number of members of Parliament in being unable to get the government to live within its means is palpable.

‘‘And that’s reflected in the behaviour of a number of members of the Republican Party, and some Democrats by the way.’’

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