Transcript by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

3AW with Tom Elliott

Program: 3AW


TOM ELLIOTT: Mr Morrison, good afternoon.


ELLIOTT: Firstly, would you ever consider funding here in Australia, sports like darts, snooker, bridge and chess? I mean, do you consider them sports?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well look I think some people do, but at the moment with the Budget the way it is, that would be a pretty tall order at the best of times I would have thought.

ELLIOTT: Not high on the list of priorities?

MINISTER MORRISON: Not high on the list, no.

ELLIOTT: Speaking of that though, you have got a plan to trial subsidising nannies for certain people, tell us about it.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well what the Productivity Commission found and we asked them to do this work when we came to Government, was to review the whole early childhood education and childcare sector and they found there was a big gap for services for shift workers and those who couldn’t access mainstream childcare services. For many of us with kids who are at that age, they can get services at long day care centres and family day care and others, but if you’re a shift worker, if you’re a policeman or woman, if you’re working in the emergency services or fire brigade or, customs officer working on shifts and so on, accessing regular childcare services can be very difficult which means you either pay a lot more to have your own nanny or you just can’t work and so what we’re doing is running a two year trial that will affect 10,000 children who will be picked up under the scheme, some 4,000 nannies provided to support that so those families can now access childcare to keep them in work and to enable them to have more choices for their own family.

ELLIOTT: Ok, so who qualifies as a nanny?

MINISTER MORRISON: A nanny would have to be working for a registered service provider, accredited with the government, they would need to have a first aid qualification and they would need to have a working with children certificate. Now I suspect in many cases, services will provide nannies with higher qualifications than on early childhood education, but that will be a matter for families to decide because we need these programmes and these services to be very flexible because of the flexibility requirements of the families themselves.

ELLIOTT: How much will you subsidise? I mean in my experience nannies cost anywhere between sort of $18 and $25 an hour, will the Federal Government pick up the whole lot or some of it? What’s the plan?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well the overall levels of subsidies will be announced when we announce our full Childcare Package between now and the Budget but there will be a percentage of a benchmark fee that will be paid and that will actually be less than for regular childcare because of the lesser costs involved in providing those services but it’s done by the child not by the nanny and the payments are made to a service provider, not to the family and not to the nanny.

ELLIOTT: Ok, but if they’re made to a service provider, let’s say the government subsidises a certain amount but it’s not enough, does the service provider then bill the family for the difference?

MINISTER MORRISON: Yes, just like it works with childcare.

ELLIOTT: I’ve read your press release on this; do you have to be a shift worker, an emergency services worker? Do you have to have a certain sort of profession to qualify for this?

MINISTER MORRISON: No, the key requirement is that you’ve got a difficulty in accessing the mainstream service. The shift workers and emergency services and key workers and so on, that’s an obvious group of people but there’s also issues for those in rural and regional areas that don’t have access to the same broad array of services that those in the metropolitan areas have but also families who have children with special needs, I mean autism for example, that is often quite difficult to get children with autism into particular centres. We as a Government provide specialist services for children with autism in a number of centres around the country but they’re obviously not available in every town and region in Australia.

ELLIOTT: Ok, but at the moment you can put your child into day care and get a certain level of subsidy, I think it’s around $70 a day or thereabouts, but I mean, let’s say that might buy you at most three hours of a nanny. Let’s say that you use a nanny for six hours a day or eight hours a day, again, will the government pick up more than what you would subsidise a childcare place?

MINISTER MORRISON: No, no we won’t. It will be a percentage of a benchmark price which is a similar model we are looking at for the rest of childcare services and it’s paid per child, so you might have one nanny looking after three, four, five children and so the combined subsidies then provide support for that one nanny providing that in-home care but we’re not going to subsidise people to do the ironing and provide domestic services, that’s just not on.

ELLIOTT: But how do you check though that nannies aren’t doing that?

MINISTER MORRISON: Because that’s the service that we’re going to work through, through the accredited provider in the same way that we ensure that existing childcare providers are providing the services that we pay for in those services.

ELLIOTT: Alright, so it’s a two year programme. At the end of two years you look at it and decide whether to roll it out across the country?

MINISTER MORRISON: Correct. But again, it’s not a replacement for mainstream services, for long day care, family day care, things like that. It’s there as a supplement for those that can’t access those services. So it’s an add-on for families that previously were completely ignored under the programmes run by the previous government and others.

ELLIOTT: Ok, just one other thing before we move on to another subject, I want to ask you about negative gearing, but I have read in your press release that it says only families on incomes below $250,000 a year will be eligible for this support, now in my experience you know, like most government benefits seem to top out or turn off at around $100,000-$150,000 of family income. Why $250,000 on this one?

MINISTER MORRISON: On childcare subsidies there is no limit on income presently that applies and on this service I’d be very surprised if there would be anyone earning that much who would actually qualify for the nanny in-home care subsidy. The vast majority of families say with three kids are earning less than $120,000 a year. So that is an upper limit at which it cuts out and there may be the odd family that requires a service in those circumstances, particularly one with special needs. So we are not going to rule that out. It certainly would be highly unlikely and atypical.

ELLIOTT: Ok, now negative gearing, Peter Martin who I think is the economics editor for the Age or the Fairfax newspapers has come out and said today that negative gearing mainly benefits wealthy Australians in contrast to you saying that a lot of battlers actually are people on lower incomes are in fact the ones to buy properties, negatively gear them. Who is right? Is negative gearing a tax rich sorry – a tax break for the rich or is it something that every day Australians use?

MINISTER MORRISON: Negative gearing is helping lots of families and individuals right across the country provide for themselves in their own retirement. I am quite aware of the anti-negative gearing brigade that comes out all the time and wants to take those benefits away.

ELLIOTT: Where do you think that comes from by the way, to me it seems like the politics of envy. It’s almost like…

MINISTER MORRISON: I agree Tom. People seem to think that the government has a right to all your money and when they say you can keep a bit that is the same as saying you can have a payment. I don’t see it that way, people earn their own money and if they go out there and invest in property and provide for themselves and make sure they don’t end up on the pension or a benefit well good for them.

ELLIOTT: Can I next time I write a cheque to the ATO can I write on it that Scott Morrison has told me that the government does in fact not have a right to all my money?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well I don’t think the government does have a right to all your money or anyone’s money. But we have a tax system which needs to be fair and a tax system that is supposed to enable us all to make our own fair contribution. But I don’t equate someone keeping their own money with someone entitled to a benefit, I don’t. Taxpayers pay for welfare benefits.

ELLIOTT: That’s right. In the upcoming budget and I know you can’t give too much away but no changes to negative gearing?

MINISTER MORRISON: No, there won’t be any changes to negative gearing and this comes up periodically but there has been a debate about some of the stats around this. The statistics I was referring to were from the Australian Taxation Office and it shows that the majority of people have a taxable income of less than $80,000 and most of them only have one property. So it is not like they are running around on incomes of $200,000 and claiming $120,000 in deductions. That is just rubbish.

ELLIOTT: And of course any deduction if you look at it is obviously going to be more valuable to a higher taxpayer because a higher taxpayer is already paying tax at the rate of 49 cents in the dollar. By definition any deduction whether it is for a uniform or for a car or for indeed a negatively geared investment property.

MINISTER MORRISON: That is true Tom but I think there is a bigger issue going on in this debate and that is that people are running around saying that we should put taxes up and that is the answer to our problems. I just don’t share that view. I think we have got to keep expenditure under control and that is why in the package I announced today on nannies and the other things we will announce between here and the budget we have got offsetting savings in measures before the Parliament which will need to be passed to pay for the increased investments. When I put something forward it will wash its face. I am not going to put an additional burden on the taxpayer either through taxes or just spending money with no offsets.

ELLIOTT: Finally, Mr Morrison a whole bunch of actors, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce, Bryan Brown, Joel Edgerton, Brendan Cowell have put out a video saying I stand for mercy and at least one of them Brendan Cowell says Tony Abbott if you had any courage and compassion you would go to Indonesia and bring these boys home. Do you think these actors think that we should be starting a war with Indonesia to bring back Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran because I frankly don’t see what else they could be asking for?

MINISTER MORRISON: I don’t know either. They are obviously very passionate and feeling very affected by this and I understand that and I respect it. I think a lot of people – all of us are feeling like that. It is a very frustrating situation but I can assure everyone that Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop have done everything possible and are still doing whatever they can and I don’t think those comments were very helpful but I acknowledge that they are just made out of a sense of total frustration like the rest of us but let’s just keep focussing on these two young men and their families and the horrible businesses occurring there in Indonesia. No one condones what they did, of course, but if there are two men anywhere who have demonstrated through what they have done in prison about turning over a new leaf I think it is these two young men and they deserve clemency.

ELLIOTT: Finally, why do you think the Indonesian government has decided not to allow the pastoral carers that Chan and Sukumaran wanted to be with them in the last few hours of their lives, why do something like that?

MINISTER MORRISON: I have no idea and I think it is very, very disappointing. I think it is – I just can’t fathom it to be honest, Tom, I just don’t get it and even while there is life, there is hope and there are legal processes which obviously should still be completed before someone takes these extreme and brutal actions. They work very much against Australia’s values. I don’t understand how Indonesia would be arguing – can argue for clemency for their own citizens around the world and how doing this they think will aid that cause. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

ELLIOTT: Scott Morrison thanks for your time.

MINISTER MORRISON: Thanks a lot, Tom. Good to be with you.