Transcript by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

Sunrise with David Koch

Program: Sunrise


DAVID KOCH: Minister, welcome to you. Who’s going to lose their pension and will they also lose related benefits like concession cards?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well first of all anyone affected by these changes in a negative way they will all get the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, which gives them the same concessions for pharmaceuticals and Medicare bulk billing and all of those things as pensioners do. But you’re right to say that this is a fairer way to have a more sustainable pension. 170, 000 people, pensioners currently, will get an increase in their pension of an average of around $30 per fortnight. But what we will be doing is we will be taking down that higher asset threshold so no longer will it be the case that couples with assets of more than a million dollars and the family home will be able to access a part pension. So those on modest assets will get an increase because we will be lifting that threshold but those on much larger assets say for a couple with over $820,000 in assets then they will no longer be eligible for a part pension.

KOCH: How much will this save the Budget?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well this together with some rorts we are cracking down on will save the Budget around $3 billion dollars over the Budget and the forward estimates. What this is, is last year people will recall there was a measure put to the Budget which would see indexation of the pension go up by CPI. We are abolishing that measure by going forward with this new one. I always said if you want to take something off the table, you’ve got to put something on the table because you can’t step away from the Budget task of fixing Labor’s fiscal mess.

KOCH: Is this going to be theme of the Budget that rather than making cuts to welfare you’ll tighten the eligibility?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well that does the same thing by cutting the eligibility we’re actually cutting the welfare bill.

KOCH: I know, but will that go across other areas apart from pensions in the Budget?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well this is an important area of the Budget, I mean the age pension is $42 billion and the overall welfare bill eight out of ten income tax payers go to work every day to pay for that bill. So in tightening the eligibility and cracking down on rorts we’re able to deliver these sorts of savings which are necessary.

KOCH: But will you take that across to other welfare payments as well? Is that what we’re going to see in the Budget, a general tightening across all welfare not just pensions?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well what I’m confirming today is what’s happening in relation to the pension. For example in the Disability Support Pension we have already taken moves to constrain eligibility there by the way you have to go to a Government doctor now to get eligibility. So it has been a theme of what we’ve been doing in the welfare system for some time.

KOCH: Just as an aside, out of interest, are you going to level the playing field when it comes to retired politician’s pension payments and also those politician’s superannuation that have been in Parliament a long time where they can retire, still get access to their super and have a job at the same time? Will you bring them back to the same rules as the rest of us?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well those sorts of arrangements have been in place for a while and they were grandfathered many years ago. I mean I’m one of the newer politicians which isn’t on any of those arrangements David. We’re on a similar scheme to everyone else.

KOCH: I know but what about the old ones? What about the retired ones?

MINISTER MORRISON: For example these changes which are alluded to today in the Telegraph about the defined benefits schemes I mean where there are rorts and where they are accessed by anyone regardless of what occupation they are in, then we are cracking down on those as well.

KOCH: Including politicians? Good to see.

MINISTER MORRISON: Of course. But let me just say this though David. The one thing we won’t do though is we aren’t going to tax superannuants more, it’s one thing to constrain eligibility for a welfare payment in the pension but what we’re not going to do is what Labor is doing which is going to tax superannuants more. When you have invested for your retirement then you should be able to draw down on your income in the way you can now tax free. The same with negative gearing we are not going to strip that away as Labor wants to.

KOCH: Good, just a couple of other things on the Budget can you confirm that that you will collect GST on online shopping, movies, music, software, that sort of thing?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well I’ll leave that my colleague the Treasurer and the Assistant Treasurer, they’ve got those details…

KOCH: PBS? Overhaul of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well again those are matters that go to the Health Minister, David, but I’m happy to confirm the arrangements in relation to the pension and we are pleased to see that more pensioners will be getting a higher level of payment and that over 90 per cent of pensioners now will be unaffected or better off by the changes we propose in the Budget.

KOCH: Ok and some will be a lot better off. Ok Scott Morrison, thanks for joining us.

MINISTER MORRISON: Thanks a lot David.