Sky News PM Agenda
DAVID SPEERS: I want to clear up, Labor’s launched this petition today, they are demanding answers on the pension. Is the Government – I know we spoke about this last week – there has been a fair bit of speculation since then about whether you are shelving this or not. Is the Government still committed to the pension changes?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well the measures we have currently before the Parliament remain before the Parliament. But as I have said if people have got a better option, a better measure, that takes us towards a sustainable and adequate pension, then the Government is very open to that discussion and that’s what we have been doing. The opposition has no plan. They have got the status quo as their option which means that we will see over time quite a significant increase in the rate of growth of these payments and that puts the very pension itself at risk.
SPEERS: Ok. But you’re the Government and it’s still your plan to change the indexation?
MINISTER MORRISON: That is the plan that we currently have before the Parliament but we are working through a process with the Parliament to see how best we can address the objective. The objective is a sustainable and adequate pension. That’s the goal. Now however we can achieve that goal best I am open to that proposition but we are not going to allow the cop out position which is you remove a measure and replace it with nothing. The status quo isn’t an option, it does need to be improved and we want to do that in the best way we can. Now the previous government said that that’s what they want to do at that time, and we had – as I was saying in the Parliament today, we had Ministers in the previous government saying it was important to do this within budget balance, well, they raised the pension age themselves, we supported them in that. Now they’re in opposition they are just interested in a four word website plan which is no plan at all.
SPEERS: In raising the age you want to go further and raise the age to seventy and that is still Government policy?
MINISTER MORRISON: Absolutely it is and Andrew Leigh recently said that 70 is the new 64. So the hypocrisy of the Labor Party on that measure in particular is just absolutely breathtaking. But even on the indexation of the pension, when they were in government they said indexing family tax benefits to the CPI was fine but they have a different view now they’re in Opposition.
SPEERS: So just to be clear reports that you have shelved the pension changes not true, you are simply working with the Parliament and your own backbench on ways you can get something through Parliament?
MINISTER MORRISON: That is right because the proposed measures wouldn’t take effect until 2017 so there is no burning rush and it is important that we work through the process properly. I am just keen to actually solve the issue – solve the problem, address the need for the long term sustainability of the safety net and the opposition doesn’t want to be a part of that debate.
SPEERS: Now you want to save money on the pension but as the Prime Minister and others were boasting today you kept the carbon tax compensation in place even though you scrapped the carbon tax. That costs a fair bit of money doesn’t it?
MINISTER MORRISON: I think it was important that we didn’t allow pensions to fall and that is what the opposition is accusing us of doing which we haven’t done. Pensions have gone up over six per cent since we were elected, $78 for a couple a fortnight, over $51 – almost $52 for a single pension.
SPEERS: Sure but if they don’t pay the carbon tax why do they need the compensation for the carbon tax?
MINISTER MORRISON: Because it maintains that the pension where it was and it continues to increase the pension which is what we have been doing. $14.10 per fortnight if we had taken the compensation away would have been the cost to a single pensioner now we weren’t going to do that.
SPEERS: Does this muddy the message if you want to keep increasing it but you are also saying you want to change the indexation to spend less?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well we are not going to cut pensions and what you are suggesting to me is we should have cut pensions by removing the compensation. Now we are not cutting pensions, it is the opposition running around trying to scare pensioners as a proxy for a policy…
SPEERS: But you are wanting to save the budget some money?
MINISTER MORRISON: We want to have a long term trajectory of pension outlays and social welfare outlays. Remember eight out of ten income taxpayers go to work every single day to pay for the $150 billion which is paid out in welfare in this country. Now we have got to manage that well for the long term otherwise there won’t be a pension for those leaving school today, there just won’t be one. That is what is at stake.
SPEERS: And can I ask you as a member of the budget razor gang, the Expenditure Review Committee, the slide show Joe Hockey gave the party room today he said we will get the budget back to surplus as soon as possible.
MINISTER MORRISON: Correct.
SPEERS: Is that it, is that all we can now expect from the government?
MINISTER MORRISON: We have to continue to work towards that goal and that is exactly what we are doing. We have already halved the trajectory of Labor’s debt in our first budget. In one budget halved the trajectory of the debt. I think that is a very good start.
SPEERS: Through the cut to foreign aid.
MINISTER MORRISON: This is the work that has to be done – the first question today in question time the opposition was waxing and waning about the cuts we have had to make to foreign aid. Well guess why we had to do it guys – it is because they were complete fiscal arsonists. We have had to turn up with the high pressure hose to deal with the problem they left us and we are going to have to keep dealing with that. But as the Treasurer was saying in question time today we need to do this in a measured way over time and take the Australian people with us and that is exactly what we will be doing in this budget. You learn lessons from your first budget and you apply them in your second.
SPEERS: Does that mean no fixed time now as to when we will return to surplus?
MINISTER MORRISON: We are going to keep moving towards that outcome. You will see the deficits decrease and you will see the debt reduce over time. Now we have already halved the trajectory of Labor’s debt. I think that is a pretty good start. Labor’s alternative is to get us to a point where we are over 120% of debt to GDP. Now that is a crazy outcome.
SPEERS: In fairness though that includes decisions you have made like keeping the carbon tax compensation and giving the Reserve Bank $9 billion.
MINISTER MORRISON: Well particularly the issues on the carbon tax, they would have had the carbon tax compensation and the carbon tax.
SPEERS: That is revenue though the carbon tax.
MINISTER MORRISON: The carbon tax would have been a crippler to our economy and we have got rid of that. We said we would get rid of the carbon tax to ease the cost of living pressure on Australian families. We have done that. We have kept the compensation for pensioners because we are not in the business of cutting pensions. That is just an out and out bald faced lie from Bill Shorten who is going around with his unfunded empathy caravan around the country empathising with every problem and frankly not doing anything about any of them other than to just express empathy. Well you have got to do more than that if you pretend to be an alternative government. You have got to actually stump up with your own policies. They are a policy free zone.
SPEERS: Scott Morrison I look forward to seeing you Saturday night for our NSW election coverage.
MINISTER MORRISON: I look forward to being there, it should be fun.
SPEERS: Do you think you will get a win on the night?
MINISTER MORRISON: I think Mike has run an excellent campaign and we have seen the lies of the Labor campaign laid bare by none other than Martin Ferguson.
SPEERS: We will have a lot of time to talk about that I am sure on Saturday night.
MINISTER MORRISON: We will. We will.
SPEERS: See you then. Thank you very much.
MINISTER MORRISON: Thanks David.