Transcript by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

2GB Ray Hadley

Location: Sydney

Program: 2GB Ray Hadley

RAY HADLEY: Minister, good morning.


HADLEY: Now we have moved to gain Senate crossbench support for changes to the pension by announcing a safety net. Every three years the pension would be reviewed to ensure it is adequate for people to live on. What hope have you got for getting it through the Senate?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well I am always trying to be optimistic about these things and you need to be reasonable about them and that is what we are seeking to do. The pension will continue to go up every 6 months like it will this Friday, like it did last September. The pension itself has gone up around 6% since we were elected for a single pensioner – that means around $43.60 without including all the other allowances and things that come with it and $64.80 for a couple. So the pension will go up every March and September but in addition to that what we are proposing is just to make sure every three years, that it is keeping pace with community living standards, that there would be an independent review. That is the discussion we are having and we will see how it goes Ray.

HADLEY: Who conducts the independent review?

MINISTER MORRISON: It would be an expert panel with people appointed who have experience from cost of living assessments and economists and people who work in the area. That is the nature of these things and there are plenty of people who can do that. Professor Harper used to do a similar review on the minimum wage when we were last in government. These things are fairly standard and would just provide that extra level of comfort. We want to make sure the pension is sustainable but adequate and there for people who really need it and I want to make sure it is there in the future. If you do nothing here well basically you just drive the pension off the edge of a cliff ultimately and down the track a government would have to make a very severe adjustment and I don’t want to see that happen.

HADLEY: Now it is a moving feast the Senate, Minister. Glenn Lazarus quitting the PUP, Ricky Muir has backed away from a commitment to support PUP, Jackie Lambie has quit. The other Senator, the last man standing Dio Wang is there. Now most people including Graham Richardson who I spoke to recently said this will certainly support and lend support to the government. Is that how you see it with Senator Lazarus becoming independent?

MINISTER MORRISON: I think it means there are more moving parts but those moving parts on occasion may well move in our favour but they may well go the other way Ray. It is an extra independent Senator effectively we are dealing with and Glenn Lazarus is a good bloke and he is here for all the right reasons like obviously all members are. You have got to make the argument, work through the issues and we will certainly be doing that with him on the many measures I have in the Senate that relate to my portfolio. But you still have to get to six and you have to get that amongst eight people who are quite different in many respects and all having a sense of their own independence.

HADLEY: That is frustrating because you have got Christopher Pyne having a second crack at the university reform package and the same problem for him not just you but all other Ministers taking reform through the lower house and then the Senate seem to be banging their head against a brick wall.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well when you are trying to make changes that benefit the long term future of the country where these changes are only assessed in what it means for the next five minutes and what might be popular I think that does create a real challenge for making longer term changes. I don’t know how many times I have head in politics that people wished politicians took a longer term look at things. Well that is what we are trying to do and every time we do it we are finding that it is being blocked by the Labor Party who thought they could just shovel the money out the door forever and there would never be any consequences for it. Now we are trying to fix up their mess and they are all at sea, they have their heads in the sand and pretending they never spent a dollar while they were in government. Now we have to deal with that and that requires some longer term changes and it is better to make changes incrementally and sustainably over time like what we have proposed in a range of areas because if you don’t then you have to do it down the track a lot more severely. That is an irresponsible thing to allow to happen and that is what we are trying to avoid so we will appeal to every crossbencher and see how we go.

HADLEY: Despite the protestations of some from the right side of politics I have supported Michael Coutts-Trotter in his position, a senior position as a bureaucrat in the NSW system and he is someone who has spent time in jail via drugs and I understand that his wife as Shadow Foreign Minister and Deputy Opposition Leader can be very emotionally involved in all of this because in talking about what happens in Bali she has first-hand experience of how productive someone can be if allowed a second chance. But she has done plenty of damage with what she ranted about on Sky News even allowing for the emotion of all of this yesterday. The boat turn backs introduced by you as Immigration Minister now saying it has an impact on the relationship and as one of my emailers pointed out a bit earlier the Indonesians via their President have had a whole range of people come back to them and say well hang on can we talk to you about this not necessarily Australians but the British, the French, the Nigerians, the Brazilians, the Ghananese, the Filipino’s have all gone there looking for clemency with no luck whatsoever. So I don’t remember any boats being turned back by Nigeria.

MINISTER MORRISON: True, look this is a very disappointing and insensitive comment and it is one that I would hope that she regrets given the very strong bipartisan nature of the way we have been dealing with this issue and I have no doubt about Tanya Plibersek’s merit in terms of her sincerity on the issue of trying to do the right thing by Myuran and Andrew. I will leave it to the Foreign Minister to comment more on what the implications of those sorts of insensitive comments are. What it more goes to, Ray, is they are just against the policy that works, they just can’t accept it, and people should be very clear in their minds that if Labor were ever elected again then they would go back to the failed policies they had before. They’d walk away once again from what worked and we would just see it all come back and that would just be an absolute tragedy. What Tanya has done is reinforce to everybody where Labor really stands on border protection, they will walk away from what works and that is the one thing you can trust them to do.

HADLEY: I know you are happy to talk about your home state being New South Wales, there is an election coming up March 28, the latest poll in the Daily Telegraph today sees the government’s lead over Labor 54-46 on the two-party preferred basis. Now some people are likening what is happening here to what happened to Campbell Newman but there is a big difference, Mike Baird is much more popular than Mr Newman was on the eve of the election. One of the things that is getting up the nose of people in NSW is this union campaign and I am going to question Luke Foley about it later in the week about how he can distance himself from it and the lies being told to the extent that the former minister in the Labor government, federal Minister Martin Ferguson has said it is just deliberately misleading the public creating unnecessary fear and trying to scare people into voting for Labor not on merit but on misinformation, in many ways he said ‘I am ashamed of my party’.

MINISTER MORRISON: The union campaigns were successful in Victoria which led to the cancellation of the East-west link, a major infrastructure project which has cost Victoria over 7,000 jobs and the union-driven campaign in Queensland is going to cost more jobs there, where someone was elected who didn’t know what the rate of GST was. Now they are running the same campaign in New South Wales. Now we can’t be complacent in New South Wales, there is a lot at stake here. You have got the proven performance of the Baird Government versus an absolute unknown and at best if they return to the form we saw when they were in government last time well we all know what the consequence of that is. Mike Baird has got a clear plan, he is articulating I think very clearly to people, he is being very upfront, he is being very fair and his plan is going to make sure that New South Wales – which is now the number one economy in the country which is what the Liberals promised to do at the last State election, get it back to number one – it now is and we have got to keep it there and that means not falling for the union lies that are being put across the airwaves every single day.

HADLEY: We will talk next week, thanks for your time.

MINISTER MORRISON: Thanks a lot Ray.