Transcript by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

Press conference

Location: Perth


MINISTER MORRISON: It is wonderful to be here at Foyer Oxford today. This is the most innovative youth homelessness project in the country. There is nothing like this anywhere else in the country. When Kasey Chambers the head of Anglicare nationally and I met earlier this year she talked about this project and invited me to come here and see it for myself. So I have been very pleased to be here with Ian Carter and Jethro who runs the centre here today to get a briefing on why it is working. These are the facilities that are supported by the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. This is an agreement that the government has entered into. Western Australia was the first state to sign up to that agreement – some almost $60 million will flow to projects such as these and others around the state to ensure that critical services for homelessness, particularly focusing on those affected by family and domestic violence and youth homelessness, which is the key focus of this facility here, will get priority in those fundings. The previous Labor government federally had ceased the funding for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. In the most recent budget we recommitted that funding. So it is new funding of $230 million over two years of which, in partnership with the Western Australian government equates between both of us, to some $60 million over two years.

This is an incredibly innovative partnership between the education sector, between the community housing sector and Foundation Housing and of course Anglicare as service providers. It is based on a model that has been working incredibly successfully in the United Kingdom and the sort of innovation we are seeing in this project here is the future of Australia’s welfare system. Places like this, providing supported accommodation on a transitional basis for around 100 people, is helping them from crisis accommodation to get some stability in their lives, with a contract which encourages them and unlocks their potential to be in education, be in training and be in jobs and to leave this place after two years and move into sustainable long-term accommodation in the private market. Some 80% of people who are leaving here when they are finished are going into long-term accommodation. Now that is a very successful outcome and that’s why programmes such as this will receive the important support they receive from the Federal Government and from the state government. But I also want to commend BHP Billiton who are a very strong supporter of the programme here and the investment that comes in their community programmes I think is to be highly commended. That partnership here between the private sector, the not-for-profit sector, the government sector, with an innovative proposal, best practice – this is a stunning, stunning achievement and we are happy to support it.

QUESTION: Do you think that it is appropriate for Bronwyn Bishop to use taxpayer’s money…

MINISTER MORRISON: How about we deal with questions of homelessness and housing first and if there are other political issues that people want to talk about I am more than happy to talk about those but honestly this is an incredibly innovative project I thought there would be some interest in those issues?


MINISTER MORRISON: There’s not? Well that’s disappointing. Anyway – let’s go to the politics then.

QUESTION: Minister do you think that it is appropriate for Bronwyn Bishop to charter a helicopter at taxpayer’s expense to a Liberal Party function?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well I am not familiar with the circumstances of the event or the visit or anything like that as I wouldn’t be with any individual Member of Parliament. All Members of Parliament need to act within the entitlements and I think make their own judgements about what’s appropriate. So they are matters specific for those Members and I will leave them to those Members.

QUESTION: It’s been widely reported though – you would have read the newspapers I’m sure and seen clippings so I suppose do you think it is a good look when your government is cutting back in other areas, for that sort of expenditure?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well I think it is important that all Members of Parliament act within the entitlements and make good judgements about what they think is appropriate and I think that is a matter for every Member and I am going to leave it to those Members to comment on their own situations.

QUESTION: Was that a good judgement though?


QUESTION: Was that a good judgement?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well I am not going to get caught in the commentary on these things. Plenty of other people are commentating on this. My focus is on providing funding to homelessness projects like the one we are standing here in the foyer of in Foyer Oxford.

QUESTION: Standing here talking about homelessness then, your Social Services Minister, surely it is not a good look for the people you specifically represent then as Social Services Minister when the Speaker is out spending $5,000 on a short helicopter trip?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well again these are matters for individual Members of Parliament and in this case it is a matter for the Speaker. The Speaker is the Speaker of the Parliament they are not a Member of the government and it is a matter for every Member of Parliament, every Senator, to be accountable for their own actions in relation to their own entitlements. I think that is the appropriate process. I am not in a habit of commenting on other’s entitlements and I don’t intend to start now.

QUESTION: So you agree the Speaker needs to explain her travel expenses?

MINISTER MORRISON: Every Member of Parliament is accountable for the way that they acquit themselves under their entitlements.

QUESTION: Just because it is allowed though it doesn’t necessarily mean it is appropriate does it?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well again all Members are accountable for their entitlements and how they acquit them. What I find interesting is this is the only thing that Bill Shorten wants to talk about today. Bill Shorten has demonstrated over the last couple of weeks I think why so many Australians feel uncertain about him. Bill Shorten is out there on a massive campaign of distraction today because he needs to answer questions about whether he can be trusted. The allegations before the Royal Commission raise very serious questions, that is if union members couldn’t trust him when he was their union boss then how can Australians trust him if he seeks to be their Prime Minister? On top of that he has two plans for a carbon tax – the one that he was prepared to talk about if certain things happened at the Paris conference and the one he wasn’t prepared to talk about if certain things happened at the Paris conference. So we have got a leader of the opposition who won’t be up front with the Australian people about a carbon tax. As the Prime Minister said yesterday, a carbon copy of Julia Gillard when it comes to carbon taxing and I think this raises serious questions about cost of living issues which is something that affects all Australians whether you are struggling with homelessness here as people are in Western Australia and all around the country or pensioners who are finding it very difficult as well. So increasing your electricity prices, which is Bill Shorten’s plan with his secret carbon tax plan, I don’t think is something Australians want and they won’t get that under a Coalition Government. They will get it under Bill Shorten.

QUESTION: So what do you think those pensioners and people battling out there today with things you are talking about think of the Speaker…

MINISTER MORRISON: Look I have already addressed those issues so I don’t intend to make any further comment on it.

QUESTION: Should she have to pay the money back though?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well again all members have to act within their entitlements and they should act appropriately in accordance with those entitlements and make their own judgements about what they consider as the appropriate [inaudible] have to take.

QUESTION: Your own Treasurer says it instinctively does not pass the sniff test.

MINISTER MORRISON: If I want to do a one on one interview well we will organise one, if that is what you want. We have other journalists here if they have any other questions.

QUESTION: On the issue of the child care package when will you introduce that to Parliament?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well we are working through the Regulatory Impact Statement on those things at the moment and so that is a consultative process that is still underway which we are working to the same timetable on. I would hope to be able to have things before the Parliament before the end of the year but we have to work through the proper consultation and that is what we are doing.

QUESTION: So it won’t be introduced in say, August?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well we are working through the process on the timetable of the consultation. There are already other matters before the Parliament which enable the government to be able to fund this package. The difference between the government and the opposition now on child care is that we have a plan which will invest an additional $3.5 billion in child care and early childhood learning all across Australia, which simplifies the system, brings it down to one central subsidy, provides a child care safety net of almost $900 million in extra funding which assists children with disabilities and in remote areas, children that are subject to issues of child protection. All of this needs to be funded. We have a plan to fund that through the measures that are in the Senate currently, the savings we are achieving there. The Labor Party does not support that so the Labor Party has no plan for increasing support for child care, only the government does and it is funded and Bill Shorten has no plan on this topic.

QUESTION: How are your discussions going with the crossbenchers on the legislation?

MINISTER MORRISON: I think constructive. On the child care initiatives themselves I think they have had widespread support in terms of what has been recommended. We are still working through the funding issues with the crossbench and that is a process of lengthy discussion and negotiation and I am listening carefully to the crossbench on those issues as I have on other measures which have been successful. I think that in the listening process, in working with them, I hope to bring the matter to a successful conclusion. It is important because the savings we achieve from those measures will fund increased investment in early childhood education in Australia. It will give families greater choice to enter the workforce, to work more and be in a better position to support themselves. We have almost half of families saying to us they can’t work more because of the unaffordability of child care and this package addresses that.

QUESTION: Just in relation to where your negotiations are at with the family tax benefit B in the Senate, can you explain?

MINISTER MORRISON: That was what I was just referring to.

QUESTION: Yeah but have you [inaudible].

MINISTER MORRISON: Well there were two measures I was referring to. I was referring to the child care Jobs for Families legislation and that is something we would hope to bring in by the end of the year because the in-home care nannies pilot is due to commence in January next year and I would hope to have that legislation in place in time for that. In the meantime because we have got the Regulatory Impact Statement consultations happening now we are continuing to work through the other savings measures and they are discussions I have been in now for some months and I will continue to engage in those discussions with the crossbench.

QUESTION: You mentioned Labor and the union fiasco quite a few times today, do you think the government could go to an early election and see the pressure put on the opposition?

MINISTER MORRISON: The government is focused on governing and we have an important agenda to pursue over the term of this Parliament. The Prime Minister has made it very clear we are focused on jobs, the economy, national security, economic security and we have got a lot more to do in this term of Parliament and that is what we are focused on doing. Bill Shorten has his own problems, most are of his own making, others the making of his colleagues. He is the one who is under pressure. That is their problem. We are not interested in Labor’s problems, we are interested in governing and the governing programme we have over this term. We are going to keep on with that. What we did today, where we are today, is part of that. Creating an extra $230 million to go into supporting homelessness programmes across Australia in partnerships with the states like the one we are seeing here, that is the job of governing. The previous government cut the funding to exactly these services. We had to restore it because there was nothing in the budget for it. Thanks very much.