Transcript by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

2GB Ray Hadley

Program: 2GB


RAY HADLEY: Minister good morning.


HADLEY: Gee a lot has happened since we last spoke; you made the deal with the Greens to get the changes to the pension through the Senate after Bill Shorten declared they would block reform. Now I notice that one of your old sparring partners, almost a friend stroke acquaintance Jason Clare says that “the Greens are dancing and dealing with the devil.” Are you the devil?

MINISTER MORRISON: He has called me Diablo!

HADLEY: Diablo?

MINISTER MORRISON: Anyway, the devil himself. Well look that’s where Labor goes when they are in trouble they get into these sorts of things. The truth is that Labor got exposed last week about being all about politics and not about policy. We didn’t have to change one word of our pension policy, the Greens supported it because Labor left a vacuum. There was a good policy on the table the Greens acknowledged that the Labor Party once again caught out about being all about politics. If they are fair dinkum about opposing this measure then they will commit to reverse it at the next election and the cost of that is over $4 billion. So let’s just see if they are serious about it or if it is just another hollow promise from another hollow man in Bill Shorten.

HADLEY: You have a new leader for the Greens, is he easier to deal with than his predecessor – Richard Di Natale?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well he is and at least he can sit in a room and have a sensible conversation about these things. Whether I have exhausted the set of issues that we can agree about we will find out, I imagine we are close. But at least on this issue they dealt with us pretty upfront and I am the same way and if people want to sit down and talk seriously about these things I will always talk to them. If they want to play games and play politics like Labor did over this issue – we sent all the same information to the Greens as we did to the Labor Party. The Labor Party I know were tearing themselves up over this but that is no surprise.

HADLEY: Now there are reports today that access to the pension will become harder than you previously admitted under the deal that you have done with the Greens with some couples almost $3,000 worse off than expected. Are more people going to be worse off under the deal than perhaps have been published?

MINISTER MORRISON: No that is complete bunkum. They are working on second hand data, we are working off the real data – we did include the assessment of the income test. What this is is union funds supporting a Labor position trying to delay the inevitable which is that this Bill will pass the Senate because it is good policy and it has received support. I announced these changes Ray six weeks ago and I released all of that information six weeks ago. So look, that arrangement has been agreed. It is a saving of $2.4 billion. None of this would have probably been necessary had we not inherited the fiscal mess that we have. We had $20 billion in the bank – $40 billion I should say in the bank and a $20 billion surplus when we left office in 2007 and these measures are necessary because Labor blew the money.

HADLEY: Now, the changes to citizenship expected to go to Parliament this week. Rather than be left in the hands of the Minister and that being Minister Dutton at the moment, terrorists who are dual citizens will automatically lose their Australian citizenship. It won’t be decided by a court but of course we then have to figure out how we determine somebody has actually engaged in terrorism. I mean we have got this young bloke from Toowoomba at the moment who is over there, he keeps on social media telling mum and dad that he is doing humanitarian work. That may not fall into line with what our agencies know on the ground over there but he would be a good case in point. I mean how do you determine and I don’t know that he has got dual citizenship anyway, but how do you determine you know if they are portraying that they are over there putting bandages on people not shooting people.

MINISTER MORRISON: The suggestion reported today is that there would be a declaration under Section 35 by the Minister based on the advice that is received. Now this is not too different a process to what is done under the visa cancellation processes where we cancelled Alex Vella’s visa and there is a very significant process that you engage in as a Minister to ensure you make these decisions properly. I would envisage a very similar process. I am very pleased we have got to the point we are. I first moved these changes when I was Immigration Minister and Peter Dutton has really taken it up with gusto as I expected that he would and with the support of the Prime Minister. We are seeing something very different from the Opposition, I mean we have Mark Dreyfus running a ‘bring them home’ campaign, he has his silks out at the dry cleaners waiting to defend them when they come back and I think that really betrays the heart of Labor in a lot of these things and many of those members. He was caught out on this – and Bill Shorten still hasn’t repudiated. I mean does this bloke believe in anything at all? I am just starting to really wonder. I mean he is going to vote against giving a pension increase to those on low levels of assets. Now he is umming and ahhing over this citizenship thing from day to day and then we have the issues before the Royal Commission. I mean what does this guy believe in other than himself?

HADLEY: Well it is sort of a developed print needed, to use racing parlance, between Mark Dreyfus and Bill Shorten, the pair of them are the gift for the government that just keep on giving. Dreyfus was at it again last week going off on a tangent in an interview with Sky News through Kieran Gilbert, who not only embarrassed himself and then he backed away from it the next morning but also embarrassed the Opposition because it is not their policy or we don’t think it is there policy.

MINISTER MORRISON: Look, Mark Dreyfus wants a lawyer’s picnic over these things and bringing these people back…

HADLEY: Well this is the problem Minister. He can’t forget that he is a lawyer, he can’t forget that you see and that is a dangerous thing.

MINISTER MORRISON: Look we don’t want to get into that…

HADLEY: Particularly if you got a handwringing left leaning lawyer as your Shadow Attorney General.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well I don’t think it inspires confidence and we all know we had a people smuggler released on bail the other day and we all sadly know about other cases where people were left out on bail and I don’t really want to draw that into this debate. But more broadly what we are trying to do here is quite straight forward. We don’t want these people coming back and that is what it is about and that’s what we know the Australian people support us on.

HADLEY: I’m glad you raised the bloke in Mildura because my listeners in Mildura where outraged on SunFM and so were all other listeners I guess that he was released. We talked about the capacity for Peter Dutton to grab hold of him; he is in fact an Australian citizen we have checked with Immigration so he can’t go anywhere else but on bail given that the magistrate down there decided to give him bail.

MINISTER MORRISON: But still they are letting these people out on bail – anyway that is a matter for the courts…

HADLEY: No it is not really because the courts at the end of the day and I know that it is not your jurisdiction because it is a local court in Mildura or a county court in Mildura which is governed of course by the Victorian State Government. But if governments direct courts as they have done in NSW – I mean we had two silly magistrates and from memory one was Dorelle Pinch who has a lamentable record when it comes to bail in Western Sydney I’m told, a lamentable record, gave Man Monis bail and before that another lamentable magistrate gave him bail. But once the laws have changed thanks to the executive arm of government well there is no wriggle room for these magistrates anymore so at the end of the day I know that we have separation of powers but governments can dictate as much as we have found out in Queensland as much as some judges – Supreme Court judges might find it uncomfortable they think they have a born to rule right, governments are elected, not judges, not Supreme Court, District Court or Local Court judges or magistrates.

MINISTER MORRISON: All very good points Ray and I know you hold them to account too so more power to you.

HADLEY: I spoke on Friday about Sarah Hanson-Young’s threat to hold up important new pieces of immigration legislation in the Senate unless you answer some questions – when I say you the government – about payments to people smugglers. She says Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s refusal to answer questions about whether Australian authorities paid people smugglers has forced her to take action. Well I think she has been forced to take action because she is as mad as a meat axe that’s what I think. But what can she physically do if over some matters you have support of the Opposition? Nothing I guess?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well look the Greens have got to make their own decisions about what bills they are going to support or not. They have given clear support and written support for the pension changes that plan to go through this week. I mean Sarah can jump up and down all she likes but there is one clear fact that she cannot walk away from, the policies that she promoted that she shoehorned with others in the community, the Greens and the Julian Burnsides of the world and everyone else shoehorned the previous government into led to over 1,200 people dying. Now that is a very inconvenient fact for the Greens on this issue. What they cannot still acknowledge is that it worked. Our policies have worked. They are lawful.

HADLEY: That is the most frustrating part for her.

MINISTER MORRISON: So we will keep implementing the policies that we know work because we are not going back to that horror situation that they seem to want to countenance.

HADLEY: Further to this the Greens will put a motion before the Senate tonight. If it passes with the support of Labor no new pieces of immigration legislation will be ever voted on in the immediate future. This would include the dual citizens supporting terror – but that will be usurped by the fact that we know think that Labor will support what you are proposing as a government.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well it is Monday; we will see what happens on Tuesday and Wednesday with the Labor Party. Bill Shorten called this original proposal ‘dog whistling’ and then he is supporting it and then he is not and now he might be. This is the problem with Labor on these issues and on border security issues you just don’t know where they stand. That is what the people smugglers know and that is what they play off. Now he has a National Conference coming up and he is going to have a lot of things he has to address at this National Conference let alone at the Royal Commission. But what he will need to do is come out very clearly and say do they support continuing the practice of turn backs. It is a simple question and if he doesn’t give the most unequivocal answer on that then if he were to ever be elected that would be an open invitation to people smuggling if he refused to support the policy of turn backs.

HADLEY: Just back to the point you made earlier about Mr Shorten and the AWU and the fact that he will face the Royal Commission next month. I note that he has had nothing to say until he selected the right pathway as far as he is concerned for a very sympathetic interview with Barrie Cassidy on the ABC over the course of the weekend. Now I don’t know how closely you watched it, I have had a look at it this morning, I don’t know that he has answered any questions that were – when he wasn’t saying anything if you know what I mean – he wasn’t saying anything last week and then he said something over the weekend but I still don’t think he answered any of the questions. Not that they were asked anyway.

MINISTER MORRISON: Look the Australian people I think are pretty cluey on this sort of stuff. What they are asking themselves and what they are seeing is here’s a bloke whose Prime Ministers when they were in government couldn’t trust him. That the Party members themselves didn’t vote to trust him because they actually voted for Anthony Albanese not for him. And now we have got the question mark about whether union members when he was their union boss whether they could trust him. So the question for the Australian people is how would you be any different if he were to be Prime Minister? It really gets down to a point why were these arrangements if they were proven to be there, what was the motivation behind it? As I said before, with Bill Shorten it always seems to be about Bill.

HADLEY: On a lighter note I have an email here of our Canberra studio were you are ensconced today. I take it there is a crew in there taking vision of you and they need you to have an eye line so what they have done they have done a stick figure type head on the wall for you to look at pretending you are talking to me.

MINISTER MORRISON: It is a big smiley face Ray.

HADLEY: Yes with a little nose, when I say a nose it is a dot, two dots for eyes. Do we know who drew that? I mean what artistic genius from the Macquarie Radio Network has put pen to paper there or was it a cameraman?

MINISTER MORRISON: I couldn’t – it may have been one of the cameramen but I am not prepared to dob them in. It is an operational matter.

HADLEY: There are some magnificent cartoonists in Canberra. We have some wonderful mates who work for News Ltd down there as photographers. Can I ask one of them to supply a photo of me and stick that on the wall instead of the smiley face with a little pin nose and two pin eyes as well? I note that I have no ears!

MINISTER MORRISON: That’s true but I thought it looked a little bit more like the big marn but anyway…

HADLEY: It’s a round face.

MINISTER MORRISON: He is having a jolly time.

HADLEY: If people want to have a look at that I will put that on the website almost immediately and you can see what the Minister looks at when he is talking to me from our Canberra studio. Minister we will talk next week. Thank you.