Mathias Cormann has an unchallenged reputation as the Mr Dependable of the Turnbull Government. But even so, his shepherding of the income tax cuts legislation through a fractious and erratic Senate was nothing short of remarkable.

A senior government role as finance minister and a crucial parliamentary role as government leader in the Senate make Cormann one of the most powerful figures in the country. In some ways, he is the ultimate insider, yet he comes from a background that has made him something of a permanent outsider.

Born in the German-speaking minority region of eastern Belgium, he didn’t start speaking English until his early twenties, having earlier mastered French and Flemish. After a visit to Perth in 1994, he migrated to Australia permanently, only to find that his Belgian law degree wasn’t recognised here. He initially took a job as a gardener at the Presbyterian Ladies College and then — having been active in the Christian Social Party back in Belgium, both as a municipal council member and as an assistant to a member of the European Parliament, Mathieu Grosch — he found his way into the WA Liberal Party.

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