Transcript by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

Doorstop interview

Location: Canberra


MINISTER MORRISON: Well thanks for coming along and being here for what was an important speech today. This has been a very challenging and traumatic week, I think for certainly the Liberal Party and the National Party, the Coalition and the government but for everyone who has been a part of this government. But it has also been a very I think traumatic week for the Australian people. I think it is important the Australian people know that the first thing on mine and my colleagues agenda, the things that we think about first and foremost is how you are feeling at this time and the sense of assurance and stability that you deserve from us in focusing on the things that are most important to you. People will be wanting to understand what does this mean for me and what does this mean for my family and how this is going to affect you and I think that is very fair. I am very pleased that despite the events of this week which have been very traumatic that the government is getting on with the business; legislation has come into the Parliament, Ministers have been very much focused on their jobs. The debate in the Parliament on important issues continues and the preparation around all the various things that need to continue has been occurring. There is a stability in this government and I think that was set out very clearly by the agreement between the Nationals and the Liberal Party that was secured so quickly, so effectively and I think the leadership that has been shown by both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister on focusing on first things first I think has been very effective.

In my own role I have been very pleased to serve as the Social Services Minister and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and in roles in Opposition, particularly in immigration and border protection before the last election. The thing I have always sought to do for those I have served and I think this is what the Australian people expect of me, is to do the best job I can do in whatever responsibilities are asked of me. I have sought to do that in every job I have had. I have worked to ensure that the outcomes that are set before me are achieved; whether it is stopping the boats, advancing welfare reform, putting together a new families package that will give families in this country greater choice to be able to work and work more. The changes to the pension and other matters we have been pursuing in social services, inspiring innovation and investment from the private sector and the not for profit sector, this has all been about focusing on the people of Australia and what the Prime Minister elects to do is a matter for him. I have always sought to conduct myself in a way where I’ve let my actions, my performance be my advocate. I appreciate the support I’ve had from people around the country in the many roles I’ve had and in particular the former Prime Minister Mr Abbott, who was a strong advocate and a strong supporter for the policy actions that we took together and the achievements we were able to achieve together. I think he said it best the other day in his very graceful speech, when he said people in this place around Canberra will focus on insider talk. That’s not our job. Others will do that. People will write what they want to write and say what they want to say but the Australian people care they will have ministers focus on their responsibilities and on their jobs and on them. And so I will do whatever I can to serve the government by serving the Australian people, by doing the best job I can do in whatever task I’m given, wherever that may be. So I want to thank the former Prime Minister for the great opportunities he gave me to serve the Australian people. I was pleased to support him in the ballot the other night and events took a different course and the same focus that I’ve applied in past roles, I will apply to whatever future role the Prime Minister would now have me to serve in.

QUESTION: Have you been offered the Treasury Minister?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well again the Prime Minister will make his comments about these things in his time. That is appropriate. But as I just said I am going to follow the former Prime Minister’s advice, I’m not going to engage in all the insider gossip on these things. My record of achievement under Mr Abbott in policy, working with Mr Abbott as a member of the National Security Committee of Cabinet and the ERC I think speak for themselves. If people have criticisms of my performance as a Minister, then they have every right to raise them and I have every right to respond to them. The way I find best to respond to these sorts of things is to do my job, do it well, focus on the Australian people because at the end of the day John Howard said to me many, many years ago, focus on the job that you are doing, do it well and whatever job comes next will look after itself.

QUESTION: Minister, did you agree not to rally your colleagues to support Tony Abbott in exchange for a senior role in the Turnbull…

MINISTER MORRISON: I made it clear I supported the former Prime Minister on Monday night. I think that is fairly clear and understood.

QUESTION: Did you urge your colleagues…

MINISTER MORRISON: I said I wasn’t going to get into insider gossip on this like the former Prime Minister gave some helpful advice on in the Prime Minister’s courtyard the other day to the media. I’m going to follow his advice. Whether you choose to follow his advice is up to you.

QUESTION: How complicit was Julie Bishop in rolling Tony Abbott and not warning him early enough?

MINISTER MORRISON: I just answered that question in the way that I responded to the previous one.

QUESTION: Have you spoken to Tony Abbott and has he indicated what he plans to do?

MINISTER MORRISON: You have to talk to Mr Abbott, I haven’t. The last time I spoke to Mr Abbott was before the ballot and just after actually.

QUESTION: Wasn’t that a problem with the lot of the Labor changes of leadership, the public wasn’t aware of the machinations? Wouldn’t it better to clear the deck? Did you run dead?

MINISTER MORRISON: Again, the Australian public are interested in having good stable government that focuses on them. This is not some sort of reality television show and it shouldn’t be covered like it is. These are serious issues that affect the lives of every Australian and what they want to be assured of is the stability and focus of the Government. As a Minister in this Government and in whatever role the Prime Minister would ask me to serve in his Government, I will be focused on them, not on gossip.

QUESTION: The bounce in the polls, you must be pretty happy with that and maybe from the Party’s perspective reaffirms you made the right choice in backing Malcolm Turnbull?

MINISTER MORRISON: The Party Room made its decision and made its decision fairly clear. The responsibility now of every member of the Government, whether on the backbench or in the executive or wherever we may be, our job is to get on with serving the Australian people and doing all we can to advance the Liberal cause. For this very reason – we are very aware of the threat that Bill Shorten and the Labor Party poses to this country’s interests. We have seen that with the rather disgraceful way they have attacked one of the keys to Australia’s future prosperity in the China Australia Free Trade Agreement. We have seen it in the way they have seeked to demonise the immigration system and the 457 program in a very unsavoury way. We have seen it in the way they have been prepared to just roll money out of the door with no thought or consequence as to what that means for the Budget. We have seen all of this and we are aware of that risk. It’s not just about ensuring that Bill Shorten is not Prime Minister, it’s about ensuring we can continue, we can continue to do the very good things we’ve been able to do and to go forward in a very positive way because that’s what the Australian people need.

I understand that there are many people in the country today who would have been disappointed and would have felt very hurt and about the loss of our Prime Minister on Monday night. I understand that. But as politicians and as Ministers with responsibilities for things that affect people’s lives on a daily basis, we can’t spend days and days and days focusing on those matters of how and what and the entrails of how these things happens. The responsibility we have is to get on with the job of serving the Australian people. I want to let them know we are on their side when it comes to them getting into a job. We are on their side when it comes to them being able to buy a home. We are on their side when it comes to dealing with the challenges they are facing in their household, in their community. That’s what this government will be very focused on – being on their side to help them achieve the things they want to achieve and to achieve the independence that they seek for their family and for themselves. That’s what we are thinking about this week and there will be a time, I’m sure, where people will feel very hurt and upset and various things like that. That is very understandable in these situations and I don’t want to dismiss any of those feelings for a second. But I do want to remind everyone, that while we acknowledge that we have a very important job to do and we are getting on with that job. We will continue to do that in the days and weeks and months ahead, right up to the next election and we certainly hope and trust beyond that because we believe we are doing the right things for this country and we will continue to do that. Thank you.