Transcript by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

2GB Ben Fordham

Program: 2GB


BEN FORDHAM: Mr Morrison Happy Birthday.

MINISTER MORRISON: Thank you Ben it’s good to be with you and your listeners.

FORDHAM: How old are you today?


FORDHAM: And you’re celebrating it by talking about the Budget?

MINISTER MORRISON: I do every year. I do every year pretty much. So anyway its part of the job and happy to be here because it’s a great Budget; fair go for those who have a go.

FORDHAM: Let’s not kid ourselves you guys do sweat on the reaction to these things because you can put as much work into the Budget as you want but you don’t know how it’s going to be received until it’s out there. The reaction – how do you judge it so far?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well I think the reaction’s been really positive and particularly in the area where I have responsibilities; the Child Care Package, the Jobs for Families Package has been very well received. These changes we’ve made for small business – this is the biggest thing for small business we’ve seen in a very long time in a Budget and it really backs up our – what we’ve always said as a Liberal Party and National Party for a long time, that is we believe in small business, well you want to know how much? Look in the Budget.

FORDHAM: Can you clarify something for us? We’ve been talking about artworks this afternoon. James Massola in the Herald has posted an email that was sent around by an art gallery promoting a new exhibition and they point out your announcement last night, or the Treasurer announcement last night, “News for Small Business Owners Buying Art 100 per cent Tax Deduction On Artworks Up To $20,000. Take Advantage of it Right Now.” So does art count?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well art can count but really if a small business of $2 million turnover and less has got $20,000 lazy dollars to throw around to buy a piece of art well I think there’s a bit of a common sense test on this. They’ve still got to pay the $20,000 in the first place. Small business will spend that money on what they think is best for their business. That’s what this is about. The ability to be able to spend up to $20,000 per item and right that off over this period I think is a great boost for small business and it’s really saying to those businesses you stay up at right thinking about what your small business might become well this is a Budget for you.

FORDHAM: Sure, and just on the art thing I mean you know just say someone’s got a – they might have a hair joint, a makeup place or whatever it is and they want a real big statement piece at the front or they could be a law firm or anything else. They say “you know what we need a big beautiful artwork here for the moment people walk in the door,” so they can use that right?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well they could do it before, they can do it know, it’s just that they could do it now over 12 months. That’s the incentive we’re putting out there because we want to back small business to go and invest and do the things they want to do.

FORDHAM: Doesn’t it have to be a depreciating asset though?

MINISTER MORRISON: That’s right. You can’t be trading in these things it’s not that type of a thing. It has to be an asset – it has to be an asset.

FORDHAM: Is art a depreciating asset?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well it can be yes.

FORDHAM: Well what if you invest poorly in it?


FORDHAM: It’s supposed to increase in value isn’t it?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well it depends what piece of work it is. Whether its art or is it just a print, or a bit of furniture or something like that. It all depends how good it is Ben.

FORDHAM: This is dangerous because I’m now picturing you and Joe Hockey going around business by business to inspect the artwork to work out whether or not it’s going to appreciate or depreciate.

MINISTER MORRISON: The rule on what covers artwork hasn’t changed. It’s just you can do it over 12 months. They all know what the rules are when it comes to what you can depreciate and what you can’t and none of that has changed. We are just saying for those expenditures of up to $20,000 and what we’re really talking about is a restaurant – a coffee machine and things like this. It’s those pieces of equipment that people need, it can be vehicles, it can be parts, it can be any number of things that people need to be able to get out there and make their business more productive and more successful.

FORDHAM: Let’s face it for a lot of businesses it’s going to be going out there buying machinery, buying a ute, buying something that’s going to be able to support them. I spoke to a couple of blokes today who are mates of mine who are tradies and straight away it’s the first thing they said “we’re not going to waste this opportunity” now you very kindly agreed to take some…

MINISTER MORRISON: I don’t think they will be buying artwork those blokes.

FORDHAM: Well you never know, you never know don’t go pigeon holing them.

MINISTER MORRISON: Maybe over in the Eastern Suburbs mate.

FORDHAM: Now I just heard Bill Shorten during our news at 5 o’clock with Amy Meehan refusing to acknowledge Labor’s role in the size of the deficit. Now I’m gathering this was from Neil Mitchell’s programme. Have a listen to this:

Bill Shorten: We accept the responsibility of reducing the deficit. We’re here to work.

Neil Mitchell: You’re not answering the question.

Bill Shorten: Well you’re asking what responsibility we accept.

Neil Mitchell: No I’m asking what responsibility you have in the size of the deficit that exists now, that was inherited by this Government.

Bill Shorten: I accept the responsibility of reducing the deficit.

Neil Mitchell: That’s not answering the question. That’s avoiding it.

FORDHAM: He’s happy to accept the responsibility in fixing it but not causing it.

MINISTER MORRISON: It was pretty ordinary. He is very grumpy today Bill Shorten and the main reason why he’s so grumpy is because he knows that because of this Budget he’s got really nothing to be grumpy about and carry on in his usual way. I think this Budget has really shown up the Opposition as well; this is supposed to be the festival of ideas this year for Bill Shorten but so far we’ve barely seen him manage the bubble let alone the thought.

FORDHAM: Let me go to Nikki on the open line, you’re speaking to the Human Services Minister Scott Morrison – or is it Social Services Minister I get lost with the titles?

MINISTER MORRISON: Social Services – you’re right.

FORDHAM: Same kind of thing isn’t it? Hello Nikki, good afternoon.

CALLER: Hi guys how are you? Thank you for taking my call. Look I read the paper this morning with the Budget and I’m a single mother I have a mortgage in North-West Sydney and I’ve always worked very hard to support my three kids. But looking at this I’ve gone through all the pain of putting them through day care and going back to work for not much more than what I’m bringing home after I’ve paid day care. I’m looking at this now that my kids are a little bit older, all there are still at home in high school and primary school, and there’s not an awful lot in it for me so I’m asking you: have you forgotten about that single parent?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well no what we’re trying to do with the Budget Nikki is we’re – for those families as you’ve just experienced yourself and you know how important it is to get back and work, particularly as a single mum. There are 400,000 single parents – solo parent families in the country where the parent isn’t in work and that’s something we need to change and child care can change that significantly for those families. We’re making child care more affordable and that will kick in in July 2017. We’ve done a major review and that’s to help them. That’s where we’ve focussed the efforts; we’ve called it a Jobs for Families Package. The Package wasn’t designed to have a broader set of changes to the various other payments; it’s there to particularly deal with the child care needs because 47 per cent of families have said they weren’t going back to work, they were saying that because child care was just too costly.

FORDHAM: Ok, you foreshadowed some announcements on pensions in the lead up to the election. Joe’s got a question on that. You’re speaking to Scott Morrison Joe.

CALLER: Hi, thanks for taking my call. Happy Birthday Minister.


CALLER: Listen, I’m about eight to ten years away from retirement and I heard Josh Frydenberg saying earlier that we shouldn’t rely on the pension. I agree, I don’t personally believe in welfare myself. But I’m looking at the figures of what you’ve done and I can’t quite work it out. I don’t think there’s any incentive whatsoever for people to save their money for their retirement or to invest in super or anything like that. For example according to what you’ve done if you’ve got a couple on $800,000 of assets right, they would now end up with an income of $25,700. Whereas a couple with $400,000, on almost a full pension, would have a yearly income of nearly $45,000. How is that an incentive for people to actually save for their own retirement? It seems to be the reverse to me of what John Howard and Peter Costello did, which I agreed with…

FORDHAM: So to sum up Joe you’re saying there’s no incentive to get off the pension?

CALLER: Well what people are going to do now, they’re going to look at this and say “hey we don’t get any more than $400,000 of assets.”

FORDHAM: Understood. Minister what’s your answer to that one?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well the pension isn’t an incentive. The pension is a welfare payment for people who are in real need. What we’re not going to do is we’re not going to tax people’s superannuation as the Labor Party is proposing to do. So if you’ve got your own superannuation assets there and you’re drawing down an income from that then that won’t be taxed. Now the Labor Party wants to tax that. We won’t do that. The other thing I would say in terms of your comparison on the incomes. What we’re saying is with those who have superannuation assets the whole point of it is to draw down on them in your retirement and that includes drawing down on the capital. So for those in the worst case scenario that you’ve mentioned, they would need to draw down on their actual capital, their nest egg, by about no more than 1.9 per cent per year to have exactly the same level of income under the proposed changes that we’re putting forward as they did before when they got a part pension. The other thing is this, while we’re scaling back the part pension for those on – who have $824,000 in assets in addition to the family home, we are increasing the pension for those who have very low and modest levels of assets which is where the pension really has to really deliver because those people rely only on that pension.

FORDHAM: There’s been some toing and froing when in it comes to Parental Leave. I’ve got an email here from John who says “ask the Minister why do Government employees get the best Paid Parental Leave in Australian which is funded by all Australian taxpayers and non-Government employers don’t? Then he could advise all the listeners how lucky Government employees are with their PPL by providing the details of the plan. Then people will understand what the Budget was trying to address with employees being able to double-dip.” Is it double-dipping?

MINISTER MORRISON: Yeah it is. It absolutely is. The way the scheme works is that currently you can get a Paid Parental Leave payment from your employer which in a lot of these cases, around 60 per cent they are public sector employers – public servants. They might – let’s say they get $20,000 as a result of that and then they turn up and say “and I’ll have the additional $11,000 from the taxpayer.” Now what we’re doing is removing that ability to double dip. What we’re saying is there is a safety net of those 18 weeks and if you’re getting less than that from your employer then we’ll top it up to that value. But if you’re getting more than that from your employer well you’ve got your minimum amount and your employer’s generous that’s great that’s up to you but you don’t get to go to the well twice. What we have learnt as a result of what the Opposition said today is they are opposing this measure because it was supposed to double dip by design. This is actually what they wanted. They’ve done a deal with the unions, clearly where they are using this to ratchet entitlements in various arrangements. Now we support Paid Parental Leave but it’s got to be fair. The other point I’d make is this, Ben, those who are actually getting the double-dipping, they are earning some 50 per cent more than those just getting the basic level. We’re talking a lot about small business today. If you’re working for a small business then it’s quite unlikely that your employer is going to give you the Paid Parental Leave that a large corporate company is or a public sector provider is. The Labor Party is saying you can just get the 18 weeks but we will let everyone else take your 18 weeks and whatever else is provided by the employer. We just don’t think it’s fair.

FORDHAM: Labor had a crack at the Government in Parliament today – in Question Time today about PPL and whether or not people who are double dipping are rorters. The Prime Minister was standing up for his Ministers. This is what Tony Abbott had to say:

Prime Minister: “The guts of the previous three or four questions is the claim that the Minister for Social Services called people on PPL rorters, that is false. Anyone who makes those claims is lying, Madam Speaker.”

FORDHAM: You didn’t call them rorters….


FORDHAM: But you did say in many cases “I think it’s a rort”.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well that’s very different. I mean – for this reason Ben the system that has been set up people are operating legally in that system. They are not seeking to defraud that system; they are not seeking to rort that system. But the people who actually set up this system are the ones that I’ve got my focus on and that’s the previous Labor Government and their mates in the union movement. They set up a system that allowed people to put one hand in the taxpayers pocket, particularly through the their public sector scheme and then put their other hand in the taxpayers pocket for the Paid Parental Leave scheme. We just don’t think it’s fair.

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FORDHAM: Let me go to Barbara at the top of the board. Barbara you’ve got a question for Scott Morrison.

CALLLER: Yes, good afternoon Ben. Good afternoon Mr Morrison.


CALLER: Hi. As a self-funded retiree I have a superannuation account that I have to draw down five per cent on monthly. My capital is eroding because of that, because all I’m able to get is 2.5 per cent. You are doing a deeming rate of 3.25 per cent on all my assets, which I’m going to be graded on to be able to receive my part pension. But you are telling us that we are not going to be taxed on our super. You have brought in a deposit tax and nobody else seems to be speaking about this but I thought – was watching the news last night and it came across that the deposit tax was in the Budget. So my question to you is, if my superannuation is not going to be taxed what is the deposit tax going to be to me when I transfer my five per cent draw down every month into one of my every day plus chequeing account? Am I going to have to pay a deposit tax when I do a draw down – when I swap money from my everyday chequeing account over to a MasterCard account? What percentage am I or how much will I be paying? Is that per dollar the 0.05 per cent?

FORDHAM: Minister?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well the measure you are talking about, Barbara, was something Chris Bowen brought in right at the end of the last government and these matters have been the subject to the review in the Murray review and the government will be responding to that review, I understand, late next month or there about. So at this stage, at this stage, I think what we are talking about is something that was under the previous government but has been under review since then and the government’s response to that will happen at that time. So at this stage there is nothing to speak of but at that later point I think this will become clearer but we’re listening very carefully to what you are saying and you are not the first person to raise it with me, it has been raised by many others and on Ben’s – by Ben I’m sure probably but certainly some of his other stable mates at 2GB. We have been having a close listen to this and will continue to do that.

FORDHAM: Let me go to Kaleb who has got a question on child care. Scott Morrison is waiting for you Kaleb, go right ahead.

CALLER: Good evening Minister Morrison, good to speak to you.

MINISTER MORRISON: Good afternoon Kaleb.

CALLER: Now you have put an extra $3.5 billion into child care, correct?

MINISTER MORRISON: Yes, once we get the savings through the Senate on the other measures then we will be able to make that additional investment for low and middle income earners, yes.

CALLER: So the point of that is to encourage women to go back to work but would it not make sense to somehow – I’m not sure what the government can do but is there anything the government could do to instead of putting more taxpayers money into funding child care to actually make child care cheaper whether that be through means of deregulation or something?

MINISTER MORRISON: I think it would be a great idea to make it more affordable and one of the things we are doing with the way we are delivering these payments is to remove some of the inflationary pressures. At the moment the way to payments are been delivered actually I think has been contributing to the prices going up. The other area you talk about is very important as well and that is the level of regulation. What we have is what is called the National Quality Framework which the previous government introduced and that is the one which introduced all those new ratios for staff to children. That was all put in State and Territory legislation. So the Commonwealth does not regulate or legislate any of that, it is all at that level. If we want to change that regulation and I think there are arguments, very strong arguments can be made about that then we have to do it and now do it through the States and Territories. That is something that I think should be a hot topic of debate. Quality is very important but, you know, you have got to pay for it as well and there are a lot of areas that will come under scrutiny on that as we go forward.

FORDHAM: Minister Morrison, quick one before I let you go because I know you have other engagements. We heard about these tougher arrangements leading up to people being able to get the dole I think this was last time around with six month waits and all those types of things, you have softened a lot of those areas haven’t you?

MINISTER MORRISON: Yes we have and again we have listened and we have taken that back from six months for those who are 30 and under to one month for those who are 25 and under. It still only applies to those who are basically job ready, it doesn’t deal with those who are long term and have disadvantage and things like that, it is those who are ready to get a job and which is simply saying to them you won’t get on Newstart for what is a total of four weeks plus an additional week which everyone has to wait until you have gone through, you have registered, you have applied for some jobs, you have got a CV together, you have got part of a programme and have a plan to get a job and I think that is fair enough. Young people need to know that you get nothing for nothing and you need to go out there and get yourself into the workforce and you can’t walk out the school gate and straight into the Centrelink office, that is something we have got to put in the past.

FORDHAM: Now I know the focus is supposed to be on you because it is your birthday but I would just like you – to give you the opportunity to sing the praises of your Treasurer, Joe Hockey.

MINISTER MORRISON: I would love to and I welcome the invitation. This has been a team effort and last night I was involved in the curtain raiser.

FORDHAM: No, I am talking about Joe Hockey not the team.

MINISTER MORRISON: That is what I was getting to. I was in the curtain raiser, Joe Hockey was the main show last night and he has delivered and it was very important because Joe particularly wanted to deliver this message to small business and the small businesses of Australia are the ones that are going to provide the jobs and drive the economy and we are saying to people in small businesses that we are backing you because you back yourself. That is what this Budget does and that has been Joe’s entire message the whole way through and good on him.

FORDHAM: Good on you, go and enjoy your birthday.

MINISTER MORRISON: Thanks a lot Ben.