Sunrise, Channel Seven
DAVID KOCH: I’m joined by Social Services Minister, Scott Morrison. Good to have you back again.
MINISTER MORRISON: G’day David.
KOCH: Now this package relies on the Senate passing cuts to Family Tax Benefits announced in last year’s Budget. Are you confident that will happen? Have you spoken to them?
MINISTER MORRISON: Yeah, we have had some discussions on this already. I mean, every package relies on being able to find the money to pay for it. You can’t just go around spending money all the time without having the savings to pay for it. That’s what we are doing; we are doing the responsible thing here to get $3.5 billion dollars’ worth of extra investment to support families, particularly those on low and middle incomes and those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. We think that’s a good investment to make.
KOCH: Ok, so you’ve had indications from the minor parties that they will approve the cuts to the Family Tax Benefit if this gets through?
MINISTER MORRISON: That’s not what I said. What I said was we have had some discussions…
KOCH: What did you say?
MINISTER MORRISON: I said we’ve had some discussions and we will have more discussions….
KOCH: What have they indicated?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well, we are just talking at the moment. I’m in receiving mode and listening mode with them and we will work through these issues. These measures – the first of them don’t come into effect until January of next year. The whole Jobs for Families package, the mainstream subsidy that comes into effect in July 2017. So, we will work through these issues but it’s important that when you are having new investments and you’re dealing with the Budget tasks that we have that you don’t go and raise taxes to pay for it. That you go out there and you find the savings to make it possible which is what we have done.
KOCH: Ok, is it fair that high income families will have essentially the same benefits as low income families? Do workers on a higher than average wage need further encouragement to work?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well, the subsidies are different. I mean at the level of above $170,000, it’s a 50 per cent rebate. For those on low incomes it in fact can go up to 100 per cent with this special disadvantage and other programmes; 85 per cent more generally. So the subsidies are different. But what we have done is leave the subsidies in place that were put there by Kevin Rudd. He increased it to 50 per cent when he was in Government, we haven’t changed that. Remember this is about getting families and ensuring that families can stay in work and be in work, in paid jobs. So we don’t want to do something that might see people leave the workforce. This isn’t a welfare initiative, this is a work initiative, this is an initiative designed to help families to have the choice to be in jobs and stay in jobs.
KOCH: What about the 80,000 women who will be worse off?
MINISTER MORRISON: The only people who may not get subsidies for childcare now are those – that they get now, are those on incomes over $65,000 who aren’t working, volunteering, looking for work or studying for more than four hours a week.
KOCH: That’s the important proviso isn’t it? There is the study, there is the volunteering, there are a lot of extra criteria in there.
MINISTER MORRISON: That’s right, David. It’s important that we have some controls around this program. That’s what we have done. The Productivity Commission recommended there be a strong activity test. We have a strong activity test but it’s an activity test that I think people can meet; it’s not beyond their reach. It enables them to get on to the pathway to work, to paid jobs. We all know all mothers work – all mothers work but an increasing majority of them are also in paid employment and this helps them do that.
KOCH: A big announcement. A big announcement last week that we talked to you – what is left in the Budget tomorrow night?
MINISTER MORRISON: There is plenty in the Budget. All there for Joe Hockey to put it right between the posts as he was talking about yesterday. We were chatting this morning, his legs might not be a long as John Eales but I’m sure they’re just as sure.
KOCH: Are you talking to Joe this morning?
MINISTER MORRISON: Yeah, we were texting each other this morning. Look, he is doing a great job and he is doing his job. We all need do our jobs as part of the team.
KOCH: Do you want his job?
MINISTER MORRISON: No.
KOCH: No. What’s your ambition?
MINISTER MORRISON: To do the best I can for the people of Australia and wherever the Prime Minister puts me.
KOCH: OK, if the Prime Minister said “Mate, you’re a great salesman, you are doing a great job on the Budget. We’d love you to be Treasurer?” Would you say yes?
MINISTER MORRISON: That’s just a hypothetical that ain’t gonna happen because he’s made his choice there and it’s a good choice and I support it.
KOCH: But if he changed his decision?
MINISTER MORRISON: Oh look he could decide that I could be the next astronaut to the moon for Australia but I don’t think that will happen either, Kochie.
KOCH: But he makes plenty of captain’s calls.
MINISTER MORRISON: Well, we are a strong team and we are all doing our jobs. Joe has been doing an outstanding job with Mathias Cormann; it’s been a team effort this Budget and you will see that on Tuesday night.
KOCH: Fair to say you’ve got every confidence in the Treasurer?
MINISTER MORRISON: Of course I do, absolutely.
KOCH: Ok, alright Scott Morrison thank you for that.
MINSITER MORRISON: Thanks a lot David.