2GB Ray Hadley
HADLEY: Social Services Minister Scott Morrison joins me every Monday. He is in our Canberra studio, Minister good morning.
MINISTER MORRISON: Good morning Ray.
HADLEY: Last week we spoke about the changes you were making to the welfare system forcing parents to vaccinate their children or miss out on the $15,000. Under the new system parents can’t plan to be a conscientious objector with exemptions only allowed for medical reasons and religious reasons. Now I believe the religious exemption has been removed as well?
MINISTER MORRISON: That is right. Over the course of last week we had – my department had a number of discussions with the Church of Christ, Scientists and they were no longer advising any of their members to not be vaccinated and as a result this was basically a non-current exemption. With that going there are now no religious exemptions for vaccination and the government will not be entertaining any others. So there is just the medical exemption now and importantly on the weekend we announced an incentive policy for doctors to assist families catch up with vaccinations -some 160,000 kids who need to catch up on those vaccinations. So it is a carrot and stick and we want children to be immunised because it is common sense, it is good science, and it is good for the health of the overall community.
HADLEY: Apart from the dim-witted and recalcitrant parents who don’t get their children immunised there is a section of the community who simply forget aren’t there?
MINISTER MORRISON: There are and that is why this measure which the Health Minister Sussan Ley announced on the weekend will have incentive payments to doctors to help families to catch up with those vaccinations to have a look out for those sorts of things and make sure that we have got people immunising their kids. We appreciate that things can get busy for families and for doctors so this is just another way of ensuring that we have the herd immunisation that is necessary to protect particularly those who do have legitimate medical reasons which disables them from being vaccinated. They depend on the herd immunisation to keep them safe and for their kids who can’t do it to keep them safe as well. We think this is a good balance of policies that gets the right result.
HADLEY: I am a bit surprised, I would like to know what the reaction is from your office, I expected a greater backlash from the dimwits I mentioned earlier that always react when we talk about getting children immunised but there is a fantastic article by a top paediatrician in the News Limited papers today and that doctor from the organisation Doctors Without Borders, her name is Myrto Schaefer. She can’t forget the image of children that she has treated dying unnecessarily because in some areas like South Sudan where I think she does a lot of work it is too costly for some governments to pay for this and that made me think of that story I got from those rather strange people in Nimbin and Mullumbimby where the vaccination rates up there are worse than South Sudan. Worse, not better worse.
MINISTER MORRISON: I think that article goes to the heart of the issue. No one forgets watching those sorts of things happening in front of them and I think she gives us a timely reminder of why this is all so important and why you have got to take the tough approach as we have had in terms of access to welfare but obviously not everybody is impacted by that and so having the incentive approach done through the doctors as Sussan Ley has announced on the weekend I think that is the right way to attack it. You are right Ray, there is a noisy reaction to this on occasion but that is not going to stop the government doing what is the right thing. I have found that in a number of portfolios, there have been those who have disagreed with me and taken different views on policies I’ve had in the past, well they’re entitled to that view, we’re a democracy but the government is also entitled to do the right thing for the people who elected them.
HADLEY: We’re told that a navy vessel, an Australian navy vessel is apparently sitting off Vietnam as part of an effort to return 50 boat people who were reportedly intercepted at sea, do you know too much about this given that it’s not your portfolio anymore?
MINISTER MORRISON: No they’re matters for Minister Dutton and they’re obviously handled with the Operation Sovereign Borders team and I’m pleased that from what I know of that operation that those policies remain as strong as they ever were and that’s no surprise, the government’s resolve on this is absolutely resolute and that will continue. What we’ve seen over in the Mediterranean the last 24 hours is heartbreaking and it’s a chilling reminder of what was happening, maybe not at that scale, but certainly with the same horrific consequences on our own borders not that long ago.
HADLEY: I need an honest answer, not that you don’t give me honest answers, on this one. Was a part of you cheering when Wayne Swan said he’d stay in Federal Parliament through the seat of Lilley despite people calling for renewal? Isn’t it just manna from heaven for the government to have someone who was an integral part of the disaster of the previous Labor government still sitting there, even if it’s on the backbench?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well of all the fiscal arsonists–
HADLEY: I beg your pardon?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well the fiscal arsonists in the last government, Ray–
HADLEY: (laughs) That will get the blooper tape going over, that one!
MINISTER MORRISON: That was close, that was close, but not quite.
HADLEY: I won’t attempt to say fiscal arsonists ever again.
MINISTER MORRISON: But he was among the chief and he sits there in the Parliament, not quite sure why, but the reports that we’ve seen more lately, I think may suggest a reason. You know the return of Swanny, goodness sake, I mean that will be a reminder to everyone as we go into this budget–
HADLEY: (sings) Swanny, how I love you, how I love you, my dear old Swanny. I’ll get the Robertson– actually here’s a good – the Robertson brothers, can we contact Ben and Jeff urgently? I want a song tomorrow: Swanny. Thank you. Swanny’s coming back. Clive Palmer. I read this with some interest over the weekend. Glen Lazarus revealed in the Courier Mail, I was up there on Saturday working, and I guess it was in newspapers south of the border as well, an approach was made to him by Clive along with– and this would have been after Jackie Lambie left obviously and there were two Palmer United senators left, now there’s only one Dio Wang – to actually join the Coalition, get ministerial places and vote for, at every opportunity, for the Liberal party in the Senate. Now Clive is not, this is not strange for him, he’s going to sue Glen Lazarus, he can get in a conga line of people that Clive sues forming to the left, but did you know anything about Senator Lazarus and Dio Wang joining your party? And perhaps he could have taken your portfolio at the time.
MINISTER MORRISON: No I have no idea about that. All complete news to me and we will just have to continue as we have in working with the crossbench senators on the important legislation that we have. I met with Glen last week up in Brisbane and we’re engaging directly with him on a range of issues as we are with all the crossbench senators in the lead up to the budget and also particularly on the families’ package and the child care package and we had the opportunity to discuss some of those issues with him. So look, we’ll deal with them on the issues, they obviously have their own issues that they need to attend to and that’s a matter for them and we’ll just get on with the job of good government.
HADLEY: Alright, we’ll talk to you next Monday.
MINISTER MORRISON: Thanks a lot, Ray. Good to be with you.
HADLEY: There he is, Social Services Minister, Scott Morrison with our usual chat, not just about his portfolio but about others as well.