Transcript by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

2GB Ray Hadley


RAY HADLEY: Minister Good Morning.


HADLEY: There’s has been a series of Cabinet leaks about the push by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to strip citizenship from second generation Australians. Apparently half a dozen Ministers were very much opposed to the measure with Julie Bishop, George Brandis and Malcolm Turnbull among those who argued against it. Who’s leaking?

MINISTER MORRISON: I don’t know Ray but what I do know is that the measure that was brought to Cabinet, which was the one that said if you were a dual citizen and you were involved in these terrorist activities then we will cancel your citizenship. It is a very similar proposal to the one that I initiated when I was Immigration Minister and I am very pleased that Peter Dutton has maintained that position. I think Peter has been doing a great job as Immigration Minister. He has certainly held the line on border protection and all of these other issues; preventing bikies coming back in the country and things like that. I think he has continued that trajectory and I commend him for it. Look that is the proposal, I think that is a fair dinkum way of dealing with the issue. If you hold two citizenships and you want to go and fight for Daesh well you can’t come back.

HADLEY: So you were someone who would argue against stripping citizenship from second generation Australians who were engaged in terrorism?

MINISTER MORRISON: Look there is a discussion paper – the issue here is how do you prevent someone who has gone over there – and remember that is who we are talking about. We are not talking about people who go for a holiday to Great Britain to see their relatives, or Ireland or Canada or wherever, we are talking about people who got on a plane, flew into Turkey, crossed over the Syrian border and got involved with this madness with Daesh. Now I would welcome any opportunity to look at any option that prevents those people coming back to Australia.

HADLEY: So you would support what has been proposed?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well I think there is another way to do it which is actually in the discussion paper where you can actually – someone can continue to be an Australian citizen but you can remove their ability to enter and remain in Australia. In the same way as if someone goes to prison they don’t get to vote. They are still a citizen but there is an entitlement of citizenship which is suspended for a period of time. Now the issue here is when people get over there and they get into this madness it changes them forever. We know that was the case when people returned from Afghanistan previously and the high level of their involvement in terrorist activity in the decade that followed. So you know we can all get very interested in the broader issues in this debate but there is a very serious national interest issue here and that is when these characters come back there is a very high risk based on form that they will get involved in terrorist activity. So I think we’ve got to use every measure at our disposable. That is why I support the Prime Minister and the Immigration Minister so strongly.

HADLEY: Did Malcolm Turnbull get cross with you?

MINISTER MORRISON: No, look Malcolm and I as you know we’re good friends and we can have discussions…

HADLEY: Did he get cross with you? Did he say “Scott I am very cross with you.”

MINISTER MORRISON: No. No he didn’t.

HADLEY: Did he use that tone?

MINISTER MORRISON: Malcolm respects my views, I respect his.

HADLEY: I know that you wouldn’t swear at anyone in the Ministry but if he were to say “Scott I am very cross with you.” Would you say ‘bugger off‘ Malcolm?

MINISTER MORRISON: I wouldn’t care because look you have to have robust debates in Cabinet.

HADLEY: Well it’s not robust it is fair dinkum, its handbags at ten paces. “I’m cross!”

MINISTER MORRISON: Well I am in there I know what goes on and…

HADLEY: Well so does everyone else now thanks to everyone leaking it.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well actually they don’t because I think there was some very self-serving sourcing of articles in the press. But that said…

HADLEY: So the leak wasn’t accurate?

MINISTER MORRISON: No I don’t think it really did convey what occurred in the meeting and I am not about to go into what did. All I know is…

HADLEY: Well then we could clear it up and get the truth out and you can put your name to it…

MINISTER MORRISON: Well then it wouldn’t be Cabinet. Then it would be reality television and I don’t think that’s…

HADLEY: Well it already is to a certain extent according to someone people inside Cabinet.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well I think that is unhelpful and I have never been one to engage in that sort of business. But I think it is important that you have a robust debate about this. I think the Party’s broader position, supported by those backbench members have made it pretty clear – remember it was Luke Simpkins and Steve Irons more than a year ago who turned up with Kelly O’Dwyer and a Labor member to actually support changes along these lines. I was Immigration Minister at the time and I was very supportive of them doing that and I think this is an important debate to have. But there has to be one clear message. I mean you can’t sugar coat this – we are not talking about people who are acting up in a modest way. We are talking about people who go and fight for terrorists.

HADLEY: But I am with you. I think the vast majority of Australians would be with you and that’s why I am testing the water in relation to Mr Turnbull because I think he has misread it yet again as he has done previously.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well he is entitled to his view and there is an open discussion and a consultation with the Australian community about this and that is what the Prime Minister is seeking to do. But let’s be clear, the actual measure regarding dual citizenship is one that was adopted by the Cabinet, which is supported by the Party, everyone knows where the Liberal Party and National Party stands on this issue. Who knows where Bill Shorten stands on this matter, he wants to play politics…

HADLEY: Well all he is worried about today is getting same-sex marriage on the agenda very quickly and he doesn’t seem to be worried about too much else. I mean he doesn’t appear to be a person of much depth the Opposition leader.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well he has put up the white flag on the Budget, that’s clear. I mean after not even five days of questioning in the Parliament he has walked away from that and he has gone off on a whole range of other issues, the sorts of issues I think that are really going to dominate the ALP’s National Conference. I mean they’re split on the issue of same-sex marriage about conscience votes and mandating positions, which is what the left wants to do, of the Labor Party. They’ve all been flipping and flopping their positions now for some time whether it’s Bill Shorten or others. Look they are entitled to do that but they have an issue with that, they have an issue with border protection, they don’t know what they are going to do on that, they can’t support turn backs and they are going to have to deal with that at their National Conference as well. So everyone knows where we stand on those issues.

HADLEY: Just before we move on because you are a friend – is that too stretching it, of Malcolm Turnbull?


HADLEY: Did he say to you “Scott I am very cross with you?”

MINISTER MORRISON: No and I don’t know why you would think he would?

HADLEY: Well did he say – I mean the old vernacular that they use in the Cronulla Leagues Club when someone duds you, you wouldn’t say I am very cross but it appears Malcolm being so refined would say “Scott you know I am not happy with this, I am very cross with you.”

MINISTER MORRISON: Well I have always founds Malcolm to be a fair dinkum bloke but I am not going to be talking about the Sharks today after yesterday’s effort at Kogarah.

HADLEY: They were very ordinary. Ok last week legislation used to imposed a one month waiting period before young people can access the dole, how is that physically going to work?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well if you’re looking for a job and you have just left school, you are under the age of 25 then you have to wait four weeks before you get on the dole and in that four week period you have to apply for jobs, you have to put a CV together, you got to get involved with a job service provider and you got to have a go. If you don’t we are not going to give you the dole which would be the Youth Allowance up to the age of 25. Now we have important exemptions in there if you’ve got a disability or if you have a mental illness or if you can’t physically return home because of what might be abuse issues with parents and things like that. So we have all the safeguards in place – all the excuses people who opposed these measures would say “well you can’t do it in these circumstances” well we agree, we are not proposing we do. What we are saying is when you leave school the first place you should go is either to further study or go and get a job, not Centrelink. Bill Shorten wants to run a shuttle from the school gate to the Centrelink front door. Those who are opposing these measures I think are sending the wrong message to young people about what we expect them to do. Now we also agree that you have to invest heavily in helping young people to get those jobs and that is why in this Budget we have invested some $370 million in trying to help young people who are finding it hard to get job ready, to stay in a job and stick in a job. So I think it is a comprehensive set of measures. It deals with those who we need to get off the couch but it also deals with those who have some real issues with trying to get jobs. And $5.5 billion to support small business means that we are creating those jobs in small businesses where these young people can go and get a job.

HADLEY: Yeah but you need Senate support. Obviously you are referring to those people who aren’t supporting it in the Senate. There is talk that Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm will back your measures but others won’t, so what will you do to convince them?

MINISTER MORRISON: No, the support is actually broader than that and I am not going to verbal Senators. I am in the business of talking to them privately. I have been talking to them again just this morning. As usual I am not going to raise expectations around this I am just going to do my job and work the issues through with the Senators. Others can commentate on it but I am just getting on with the business of making my case to the Senators. Once again the Senators on the crossbench are the ones who are thrown in the middle on this because the Labor Party can’t bring themselves to support good policy. They are just a bunch of reactionaries who want to say no to everything and play politics with the Senate. Now thankfully the crossbenchers are engaging with us and don’t want to be the pawns of Bill Shorten for his political game in the Senate.

HADLEY: Ok, when you were Immigration Minister, before the current portfolio, you announced a policy of resetting boat people in regional towns. You apparently did a deal with Clive Palmer allowing a five year temporary visa instead of the usual three as long as those people moved to regional areas. Now is that still going to happen?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well that is the policy and the announcement on the weekend was that the NSW State Government is engaging with that. Let’s just see what people do. That was part of the deal…

HADLEY: Is Mike Baird the first to sign off on this Safe Haven Enterprise Visa scheme that we spoke about?

MINISTER MORRISON: That is my understanding yes. I mean I am not as closely involved with it as I used to be for obvious reasons but that is my understanding. Look if they want to give it a go it wouldn’t – as I understand it from the report, it doesn’t include Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong because it has to be a regional area. Look if it works, good. I am pleased they are going to give it a go but it was part of the negotiation with the crossbench we went through last year. It was their idea, I was happy to back it in in return for getting those measures through. I thought that was a common sense thing to do. We will see how it works.

HADLEY: Ok, now just finally this one about the same-sex marriage bill tody that Bill Shorten appears to think is the most important thing on the horizon. It is very important to some people I acknowledge that. The Prime Minister has fended off questions about the Budget – about this over the weekend I should say, saying we should concentrate on the Budget. I know you are opposed to it but where should it rank in some sort of order of importance in relation to other matters?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well look it was dealt with in the last Parliament. Julia Gillard voted against it and she said she was in favour of it. So I don’t know how the Labor Party can now all of a sudden think it is the issue of the day. When they were in Government they dealt with it in their way and it came to naught. What I think…

HADLEY: Can I just interrupt, I think that is a very important point you make. That it is all well and good for Bill Shorten to be jumping up and down and for the Prime Minister’s sister to be jumping up and down and saying this is vital, I mean the Labor Party had quite a number of years in government where they did bugger all about it.

MINISTER MORRISON: Yeah, it was a bill and most of them voted against it. Well many of them voted against it. But putting that to one side I think we have to be careful here. There’s a lot of feeling about this and what happened in Ireland was obviously very significant, but we still have a Budget to pass and very important issues that go to jobs for young Australians in particular. We have to get the Budget on track, now that is our priority and that is what we are working to. Look there are a lot of complexities around this issue. I mean for example what does all this mean for religions such as – any churches or mosques for that matter or synagogues? What are the protections for them about being discriminated against if they refuse to marry people in that situation? I think we have to be very careful to think through all the consequences here and how all that is going to be dealt with. It is just not about putting in a Private Members Bill and trying to you know capture the politics of the moment and partisanise something which I don’t think should be. I think there has been a reasonable level of respect shown for everybody’s views here – I hope that continues. But there also needs to be a pretty hard headed analysis. I mean the institution of marriage came from religion, it was adopted by the state and I have always been a firm believer in the separation of church and state and the main reason for that is it protects the church and I think the church’s institutions do need to be protected.

HADLEY: Ok, as always thanks for your time.

MINISTER MORRISON: Thanks a lot Ray.