2GB Alan Jones
ALAN JONES: Scott Morrison good morning.
MINISTER MORRISON: Good morning Alan.
JONES: Where do you start? Well having said where do you start – with a welfare bill of $150 billion which is a third of budget expenditure, a third increasing by 6.1 per cent a year. I thought I’d start with you today on what I call the Peter Costello premise. I noticed the other day he said I have always said you have to explain the problem before people will accept the solution. Now on the explaining of the problem the figures are staggering aren’t they? In 1949 the government, federal, spent 79 pounds, 1 shilling and 8 pence per head of population equal to about $4,000 in today’s money on every Australian. We are now spending $17,000 per man, woman and child. You are in charge of the money, can it continue?
MINISTER MORRISON: It can’t continue at these sorts of growth rates Alan. People expect a safety net which helps those who are most in need. We have got 8 out of 10 income tax payers going to work every day and all of their income taxes are going to pay for our welfare system of $150 billion. What we need to do is get on top of the growth in this expenditure. I think that is the first thing we have got to do.
JONES: Your budget forecast in May, last May three-and-a-bit per cent growth, it is now going to be 6.1, it is out of control.
MINISTER MORRISON: It has been growing at that rate for a very long time and it continues to grow at that rate. That is why it is important that we start to embrace the types of reforms that Patrick McClure was talking about last week in that excellent report that we released, that he provided to the government.
JONES: But he said all that in the year 2000 and no one took any notice. He has revisited it, hasn’t he?
MINISTER MORRISON: This is mark two of his reforms. The first era of reform though which was picked up by the Howard government was the first wave of reform in this area. The level of attachment to the safety net in the country is something we really need to have an open conversation about with the Australian public. We just cannot continue to run a system of this size at this level of growth and expect it to be there for the next generation. One of the frustrations in the public debate at the moment is that every decision is based on who is better off and worse off in the next five minutes. Now who is going to be better off and worse off in the next generation? Our generation has received a welfare system bequeathed to us by those who went before us. I want to make sure that the next generation has one as strong and as dependable but certainly not one that is taken a loan of.
JONES: But see you are pushing this stuff up hill aren’t you? I mean I am talking to you and we booked this interview in only a couple of days ago but this is the day after the Parliament had to admit, well the government had to admit, the Parliament had to admit we couldn’t stomach a signal, a health signal, a $5 co-payment for when we went to the doctor. Now Peter Costello again recently said well you can’t go to an accountant for nothing or a lawyer or a dentist, why can you go to a doctor? Now the Medicare bill ten years ago was $8.5 billion, last year $19.1 billion, this year $20 billion, within a decade it will be $34 billion. Now if we collectively can’t stomach or if I might be critical of you people, if we can’t sell a $5 co-payment when New Zealand have got a $30 co-payment what chance have you got for reforming $150 billion?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well this is why I am seeking to enlist the taxpayers of Australia in this debate.
JONES: That’s why I am talking to you.
MINISTER MORRISON: Yes, that is what I am trying to do. Everyone who receives a benefit in the welfare system has a voice and that is fine and they have a lot of advocates but the taxpayer needs an advocate in this debate as well. The taxpayer is the one paying for this system, they are the ones paying for this system and they paying to get particular things done and that is to help those most in need. As I said at the Press Club last week our system has to be based on need not entitlement and it needs to be growing at a rate that the budget can sustain.
JONES: Just to interrupt you there, Scott Morrison. Take the need, it is hard for people to get their head around that there are 830,454 Australians on a disability support pension, 2,000 every week. This is costing $16 billion they say it will go to $34 billion within years. It is hard to get your head around that.
MINISTER MORRISON: Well it doesn’t go to $34 billion just on the DSP that includes the National Disability Insurance Scheme. That is the overwhelming level of that increase and that is a scheme which has a levy, it only covers 40 per cent of the Commonwealth costs but nevertheless on the DSP in particular we are now getting on top of the flow into the DSP. You have got to go to a government doctor as of the 1st July, we are also already working back through those under 35. So we have got a good handle potentially on the flow there but the number of people in the system is extraordinary. We have got people who have been on the DSP for a long time, they went in under much more easier rules and they are receiving a payment now when people at the moment wouldn’t be able to get on the DSP in the way that they are able to. So there is a lot of inequity in the system because of how it is has changed over time and that is one of the challenges you have when you start to reform the system. But what Pat McClure said and I agree with this is if you start this now and if you do it over a decade you can make the change and that is why you have got to start making some of these changes…
JONES: See there is a philosophical argument you have to win though isn’t it the first and foremost and best expressed I thought by the former Australian of the Year Galarrwuy Yunupingu an Indigenous Australian who said welfare kills he said such is its all pervasive power to suck the life out of individuals.
MINISTER MORRISON: Welfare can be an absolute trap and let me give you a good example of one area we are trying to work on right now and this is in the child care area. If you have a family who has kids and they are on two incomes and in city like Sydney, but also Melbourne, Brisbane, and many other places, if they don’t stay on those two incomes then (a) that is not going to be good for their family and what their hopes and aspirations are for that family but is also means that they are likely to have to then go back on to welfare and that family becomes a welfare family. We have got I think off the top of my head 14 per cent of kids under 12 growing up in jobless families.
JONES: Yes that’s correct. There is no job.
MINISTER MORRISON: Almost half of those families are single parent families. So one of the things I am trying to do in that area, particularly with child care is to try and set some of those parents up to succeed. They want to work, they want to support their families but they have got to get the support at the right level to help them go and make that choice. For some families it is a choice about whether you go back to work after you have had kids and that is a nice place to be in but for many families there is no choice and that is what the child care reforms have to achieve. They won’t come cheap and they will need to be paid for and we are talking about having some form of agreement across the Parliament on this but the agreement has to be on how you fund it. That is one of the issues on the Medicare issue that we have gone through…
JONES: That’s the guts, that’s the first issue you have got to – I mean the welfare bill is costing taxpayers $5,000 a second. The welfare bill is costing taxpayers $411 million a day, it is unsustainable. Now here your best advisers, I always say my best researchers are my listeners. Let’s have a couple of them. Mark good morning, Scott Morrison is on the line, Mark.
CALLER: Good morning, I’d just like to talk about welfare, blatant welfare fraud and the government doesn’t want to do anything about it. I ran my own little experiment recently with getting scripts filled in the Bankstown area. Now if you go into a pharmacy with a script and ask to get it filled and you look like you have come from work whether you are wearing a fluoro drivers outfit or you are wearing a suit, the first thing they ask you for is your health care card and when you say to the person behind the counter ‘look I have a job, it doesn’t look like I have a job’ they say, ‘no everyone has got a health care card’. The welfare fraud there is so blatant and it is unstoppable.
JONES: Health care card I mean Scott Morrison that is a big issue isn’t it with a lot of people with wealth. They want to get themselves onto a pension even if it is only a dollar and they qualify for a health care card that gets them everything.
MINISTER MORRISON: Well this is where we have got to have a genuine conversation about need. We need to encourage all Australians to do as much as they can to support themselves and their families. I think Australians are by nature hard working but we have had a system I think which has conditioned a lot of people to think well ‘what can I get out of it, what can I get out of it’. I think we have to change that question and it has to got to be who needs it and do I really need it and if I really don’t need it then the fewer people there are on this system then the better you can help the people who really need it. But if everyone thinks they can just get on it and no one is paying for it, the money somehow falls from the sky, then I think that is an honest conversation we have to have with each other, down at the pub or wherever, saying well mate if you are trying to rip that system off you are ripping me off as a taxpayer and I think it is important – yes the government should be doing as much as we can on cracking down on welfare fraud and Senator Payne has been on your programme many times Alan – her and I are working on a particular package to beef that up right now in addition to what she has already done. But people have got to check each other I think in the community when it comes to welfare fraud.
JONES: Well you stopped the boats, are you going to be able to stop welfare fraud?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well that is the goal. There is fraud in any system Alan and whether you can wipe it out 100% like we stopped the boats…
JONES: And we can’t leave it to you. We have all got to say ‘look I don’t think I am entitled to this. I have got to roll up my sleeves and look after myself’. Maria?
CALLER: Ah yes good morning.
MINISTER MORRISON: G’day Maria.
CALLER: Good morning Minister Morrison. I have a question for you. I am a director of a child care centre and have been for the last 30 years. My centre is a preschool, not a long day care centre. My question is in these new reforms will my parents be entitled to anything? Up to now they get nothing, no child care rebate, simply because my centre does not open school holidays. Will this stop with the new reforms and be fair to everybody?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well there are two types of support that are provided. There is child care support and then the support that has been provided around universal access to preschool education. Now when we came to government that was underfunded, we increased it from $250 million up to $400 million or just over that in our first budget but it hasn’t been funded out over the next few years. It is something the previous government made a whole bunch of promises about but they cut the funding for universal access to preschool education and that is one of the things that as a government we are going to have to address a we bring these changes together in terms of how we fund it. But as I said before all of these things are only possible if we can get saves through the Parliament. I have currently got $5 billion of just technical changes to the Family Tax Benefit that could pay for child care improvements and it is being voted down.
JONES: But if I could just take Maria’s point, see I think we just complicate it. I talked about this yesterday Scott on this programme. Now if you were a businessman, you are in different sort of business, but if you were you are employing two typists because that is the nature of your work. When you go to pay your income tax they regard those costs as tax deductible because it is an instrument whereby you use to earn your income. You can’t earn your income without two typists. Now Maria on the other hand wants to go to work and she has got children and needs a nanny at home and the nanny, the employment of the nanny is to enable her to get into the workforce to pay tax, to be productive and so on. Why can’t Maria say about the nanny, well it is no different to your typists Scott. The nanny is a means by where I can go to work and earn income why would we simplify the whole thing and say child care costs ought to be tax deductible which in fact is what your own Senate committee of 2006 said but there is a very anachronistic view by the Productivity Commission that denies all of that. I mean it would simplify the system wouldn’t it?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well what it would do Allan is you would have people on high incomes getting a therefore effective rebate, a subsidy, of almost 50 cents in the dollar…
JONES: Well they get that for their typists.
MINISTER MORRISON: And you would have people who are on very low incomes…
JONES: No but hang on they get that for their typist, rich people.
MINISTER MORRISON: I understand the argument about tax deductibility. What I am talking about is what is the scheme trying to do when it comes to child care…
JONES: No, no. What is child care doing? Child care is allowing people to earn an income. That is what child care is doing.
MINISTER MORRISON: That is right Alan and what I am saying is the people who most need the access to that support are on middle to lower incomes who need to stay on two incomes to get back to work. If you just went down the path of tax deductibility you would be giving big subsidies for people on high incomes and you would be giving very low subsidies to those on low incomes and the whole system would become counter-productivity.
JONES: No, No, no. You are saying tax deductibility is a subsidy. It is everything. I have got billionaire companies out there getting massive tax deductabilities for the interest on their debt, the depreciation.
MINISTER MORRISON: I understand that.
JONES: Well hang on that is a subsidy to billionaire businesses. Here is a woman out there wants to go into the workplace and the only instrument that enables her to go into a workplace is she employs a nanny. You can’t say that BHP can have tax deductibility for the costs incurred in making their billions and this poor woman can’t have tax deductibility for the costs incurred in making her $600 a week.
MINISTER MORRISON: But Alan I have to start where I find the system and where the system is is this – there are two ways you can provide support for people in terms of getting access to child care. You can do it as you say and give them tax deductibility and you have to think through the implications of whether that achieves the goal which is getting particularly middle to lower income families into work. Or you need to work on a system which provides – well currently you have a rebate and a Child Care Benefit. You have got other forms of assistance – the Productivity Commission says collapse that down into one and focus on the people who are most in need of that support. Now I said before…
JONES: I don’t think the Productivity Commission is holy writ Scott.
MINISTER MORRISON: Well neither do I Alan. But when they make sense I am happy to agree with them.
JONES: Well they don’t make sense on child care in my opinion. They don’t make sense. This is for the day when we wrote with pencils.
MINISTER MORRISON: But Alan let me put this to you – if what is being clearly shown is the issue is getting people on middle to lower incomes – and I am talking about people earning up to $180,000 as a family. We currently spend $6.7 billion on providing this support. I want to make sure that $6.7 billion, and it is going to grow to $11 billion over the next ten years if we do nothing, I want to make sure that support gets to the people who most need it.
JONES: I know that but see you have missed my pint.
MINISTER MORRISON: And I am telling you tax deductibility does not achieve that.
JONES: Well Scott if that is the case if you want to afford it then say ok BHP you have got billions of dollars of debt which services the exploration you are undertaking but the interest on your debt won’t be tax deductible.
MINISTER MORRISON: No I am not saying that.
JONES: Because we can’t afford it.
MINISTER MORRISON: Alan that ignores the reality of the situation as we currently find it. I have got $7 billion to best help people get into child care and I have to make a decision about whether I do it through tax deductibility or do I do it by targeting that support to the people who most need it.
JONES: Well you simplify the system and a tax man could determine whether the deductibility is legitimate or not. But look we will just quickly go to Andrew because Scott if you don’t mind we will break for the news and come back after the news. There is a board full of calls here. Andrew, very quickly your question and the Minister can then think about his answer.
CALLER: Ok. My question is the argument that there is more people that receive welfare then sort of pay tax as a net result we will always have the government on the back foot. So everything you say I agree with, it is logical but this is not a logical argument. It is emotional. What is the government doing to sell their message emotionally to that middle tier who need to be emotionally comforted?
JONES: Ok. Let’s go to the news and that will be our first question after the news.
JONES: A couple of points before we go back to the Minister. As a measure of how important this is and I have to apologise to my listeners. The board is absolutely on fire here and so you can never ever do justice to those concerns. Concerns are best addressed statistically, and if you take the Costello line, and Peter Costello said, I’ve always said you have to explain the problem before people will accept the solution. The great asset that Scott Morrison has is that he demonstrated in a previous Ministerial life, he had the discipline to get on top of difficult issues. This is difficult; the welfare bill costs taxpayers five thousand dollars a second or four hundred and eleven million dollars a day. Or as you heard him say, eighty five per cent of taxpayer receipts are used up funding the one hundred and fifty billion dollar welfare bill. Eighty five per cent are used up just to fund the welfare bill. Well, and he made the point I think, Scott Morrison, twelve per cent of Australian children under the age of fourteen are growing up in jobless families and rely on welfare to survive. Australia can’t go this way. This was Andrew’s question before we went to the news.
CALLER: My question is that the argument that there is more people that receive welfare then sort of pay tax then the net result will always have the government on the back foot. So everything you say I agree with, it is logical but this is not a logical argument. It is emotional. What is the government doing to sell their message emotionally to that middle tier who need to be emotionally comforted?
JONES: That is a very good point, Scott.
MINISTER MORRISON: Look it is. This is what I believe is the answer. The welfare discussion has to be about work, not about welfare. If you work you have more choices. Your family has more choices. It is not easy to live on Newstart, it is not easy to live on the Age Pension. Being caught in a welfare payment lifestyle is not something that I think we aspire for people to be on in Australia, it is there as a safety net. The discussion we have to have is how we get more and more Australians prepared to work and then we have got to have the jobs for them to get into work. If we are talking about older Australians, Alan, we are encouraging older Australians to work longer because it is good for them, it is good for the country and as I joked at the Press Club it is good for the grandchildren on Christmas Day. Helping people to understand, a lot like you were saying with the indigenous communities, that welfare can be a trap, it can imprison people, it removes their choices and it denies their families opportunities and we want to set people up to succeed.
JONES: See just on those two words ‘safety net’, now Gough Whitlam most probably and I felt he was unfairly criticised for this, he most probably pioneered the notion that and to put it simply if you had a job and through circumstances through which you weren’t responsible, you lost the job, we would all collectively dip into our pockets and pay a benefit as a transitional payment between this job and the next one – a transitional payment. Now of course people have turned those sorts of payments into full time income. That becomes your income. It is as if you are entitled to that forever in a day so that is the problem isn’t it. That is winning the philosophical argument. Leah, good morning.
CALLER: Yes, can you hear me?
JONES: Away you go.
CALLER: Yes, my issue is that I am a single parent and I have been working for almost nine years since my child was one year old and my biggest issue is that I think the culture of ‘I am entitled to’ because I work so hard and unlike what most people have suggested to me looking at the hours I work and how much effort I put into is that time and time again I have been told you know what you would be better off just not working and getting government benefits as a single parent.
JONES: That is a good point.
CALLER: I have been told that and even told that today even after almost ten years of working.
MINISTER MORRISON: Well Leah, you are an Australian hero. That is who you are. You are an example to your community, to your country and your kids are incredibly lucky that you are setting them that example and you are making the sacrifices that you are making. If we could multiply the Leah’s out there, Alan, then the country would be in a much stronger place.
JONES: But that’s the, that’s the intellectual argument that you have got to win isn’t it?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well look and Leah is doing this and I have no doubt Leah and you could comment yourself. Leah you are doing this as great for your kids, for your family, for your future and you are not going to surrender to a welfare mindset that captures your family for their generation.
JONES: And that is what McClure said didn’t he? He said way back in the year 2000 there must be a mutual obligation principle.
MINISTER MORRISON: And no doubt Leah is more than meeting that and she is not calling on that system and the system is there to help people set themselves up for success and not to trap them in a welfare lifestyle which frankly limits their capacity, their ability to contribute and we have got a lot of people out there who can obviously do more, we want to encourage them to do more because it is good for them at the end of the day and it is good for their families.
JONES: Leah, did I cut you off there?
CALLER: What annoys me is time and time again it is a choice and it is a mindset. I don’t do it because I am lucky and I’m great or anything amazing about it, it is a choice and it is a mindset and what annoys me is time and time again I go to doctors and all these different places and I get asked oh would you like this Medicare benefit or anything like this and every time I look at them and I say is it mean tested and they say yes, I say forget about it because I will never be entitled to it because I make a choice to work and make effort so I don’t get all these entitlements and it is annoying because there needs to be a change of the mindset – where you are better off not working and you will get everything for free.
JONES: Yeah, the welfare choice you are saying is more attractive?
CALLER: It is. It is more attractive.
JONES: That is a very valid point, and on the other occasion for me Leah for me – you say you go to the doctor, I go to the doctor I grab my credit card or my wallet out of my pocket and I say I got it and they say no, no, no Mr Jones we bulk bill here. No, hang on I can’t have people on $600 a week paying for my health. No, no, no we bulk bill here. Scott, that is a nonsense.
MINISTER MORRISON: Well we have just been through this entire debate Alan..
JONES: We have.
MINISTER MORRISON: …and this is where I think we have a frustration that the appetite for the sorts of changes that are necessary, whether it is in that area or whether it is in the welfare area more broadly, frankly isn’t there and I think as a country we have to wake up to that. We can whinge about the system all we like but if we are not prepared to back people who are prepared to change it then we get what we support. At the moment what is being supported is no change and just going headlong into an uncertain future. So we want to change that. That’s why we want to do the things we are doing, that is why we have all of these measures currently in the Senate which are being opposed by Labor and by the cross benchers.
JONES: Professor Judith Sloan wrote last week, I couldn’t believe this, I fancy that I am on top of this stuff but I wasn’t aware of this. Quote, when it comes to its families package – this is government- the government should immediately impose an activity test on recipients of child care subsidies. It is currently estimated that some 30 per cent of subsidised child care places are taken up by a principle carer who does not work, look for work, study, or train. So there are people out there saying let’s go to golf today and we will put our kid into child care and we will get the subsidy.
MINISTER MORRISON: Or go down to the club or wherever they are going and Judith is right and this is one of the changes that we are working on right now but can I – on the child care package I can’t make the child care changes unless I can fund them Alan…
MINISTER MORRISON: …And if I can’t fund them, I can’t do them.
JONES: Well you can’t fund anything if the Senate doesn’t support you.
MINISTER MORRISON: I need the saves through the Senate.
JONES: You can’t if the Senate won’t support you. I mean you have got a Labor – let’s put a political point in here because I am sick of it. You have got a Labor government – the last four Labor Prime Minister’s Keating, Rudd, Gillard and Rudd ran up $350 billion of deficits. $350 – now you are trying to retire some of that and you can’t get any support in the Parliament. Sonia, hello.
MINISTER MORRISON: G’day Sonia.
CALLER: My question is what is the government going to do about further funding to chase up and get on top of those who owe child support debts from ex-partners who defraud the system because they provide false and misleading information and it is the other parents who are supposed to receive that supposed debt who potentially end up on the welfare system.
JONES: Good stuff. Great comment.
MINISTER MORRISON: It is a very, very difficult issue as you know because of the very real human circumstances of every single one of these cases. I don’t think anyone of them is the same as the next…
JONES: Well I think what Sonia is saying Scott is there is no enforcement of the order. Sonia must be a single mother whose husband took off with a 21-year-old girl or whatever and the court says you will pay Sonia and the children this much money. He takes off to Atherton, she never sees him again, he doesn’t pay his child support. Sonia is forced onto welfare.
MINISTER MORRISON: Yeah and look I am sure when you next have Marise on she can talk about what is happening with the child support agency and in each of these cases people have got to do the right thing and the government needs to do all it can to get people to do the right thing whether is in the cases we have just heard of here, of a mum who is chasing those payments, or a dad who is getting a rough deal as well. So it happens on both sides as we know. It is a very vexed issue Sonia.
JONES: Sonia, let’s just hear Sonia.
CALLER: There must be millions of dollars out there [inaudible] to help the kids and that surely is a good business case to keep us off the welfare system.
MINISTER MORRISON: I agree Sonia.
JONES: See Sonia your point is it is called a child support agency but when push turns to shove we are not enforcing the child support that is meant to be paid.
MINISTER MORRISON: If Sonia wants to pass on her details to your producers.
JONES: Sonia you hang on and go back to James would you?
MINISTER MORRISON: I will take that back.
JONES: Sonia you go back to James. Steve, hello.
CALLER: Oh yes hello. My question is why is it only those under 35 who have to be reassessed? Why isn’t everybody? I mean I know it would cost a lot for people to get their MRIs and CT scans but surely in the long term if you are given six months to go to your doctor, go to a government doctor and be reassessed you take all your previous MRIs, scans and whatever and they assess on those or send you out to have new ones done.
MINISTER MORRISON: Well that is just where we are starting. That is my point. It is a very large population of people who are on the DSP. That is where we have started and we will continue to work through that. If you remember you go back to when John Howard introduced those reforms which followed Patrick McClure’s many recommendations – he grandfathered a lot of the arrangements for people…
JONES: Just explain what that means.
MINISTER MORRISON: Well that means they are already on DSP or already had an entitlement and they said you get to keep that while we make these changes. Now that was a decision taken at that time and for a government to go and change that then that would be a significant policy decision and we would have to have a fair dinkum conversation.
JONES: I wonder what would happen though if you said – you are the bloke that turned back the boats and they said it couldn’t happen and you stood up there and said ‘well I am not going to give a running commentary here every time I go on to television; you want to know all the sort of stuff that is just a licence to encourage people to come. No I am not telling you what we are doing’. If you then said ‘well look, I appreciate all these people on welfare, I am Scott Morrison the Minister. I am telling you what I am going to do. I am going to reissue a card, a specific card whether green, black, blue or purple. You will have to apply for it to be able to continue your payment. We will give you three months to apply’. I wonder what would happen.
MINISTER MORRISON: Well it would be interesting to see what would happen Alan but I think the question of revisiting people’s entitlements particularly under the DSP is an issue of conversation. It is a topic raised with me for the reason I said before – you have got people on the DSP who if they were applying for it today wouldn’t qualify. There is a fairness issue there for those who need support now. The system can support as many people as the taxpayer is prepared to pay for and if you have fewer people on it then obviously the system will cost less.
JONES: But on that – I always think the best way to sell this argument is to start with yourself. Now I have taken myself. Supposing I own, and we are not giving away personal details here – but let’s assume I own a $3 million house. Why instead of going onto an age pension because the home doesn’t count why couldn’t I reverse mortgage that and say look I am going to die one day I am going to borrow $150,000 against that and I will live on that and when I die we will liquidate the asset – $150,000 will be taken off the asset and that can go to the kids. Why shouldn’t I be made to say well look I think you have got the capacity, I don’t want to boot you out of your home, you can live in your home but we can reverse mortgage your home because fundamentally you can afford to do that. What is wrong with that?
MINISTER MORRISON: You can do that right now.
JONES: I know but we don’t insist upon it. What we do is transfer the asset to the wife and make sure that I have got no income, nothing to declare, I get one or two or ten dollars of a pension, that gives me the health care card. I get all of that subsidised. Those sorts of things are fundamentally rorts aren’t they?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well you have got people who bought a house back in the 70s or something like that and have had a massive increase in the value of their house but as you know they are cash poor but asset rich. The difficulty of having the family home in the assets pension test is how you are going to value it. The Valuer-General can’t get that right for unimproved land values around NSW right now. So it has got some real practical issues. There is also a fairness issue about this. I would be encouraging people that if you free up those assets you can have a better quality of life…
JONES: Won’t be punished.
MINISTER MORRISON: Well and I think that is an important point. Currently there are rules which do punish people. The previous government had this idea that we thought just didn’t work. They said that you could take $200,000 of the net proceeds of selling down your house and moving into a smaller one but you couldn’t touch it. You had to basically bury it.
JONES: People don’t want to sell their house. They don’t want to sell their house.
MINISTER MORRISON: Well some do though actually and there are real obstacles for them doing that. But the idea that when you get the money you have to go and bury it in the backyard and not touch it, I don’t really see the point of that. But if people can actually unlock the capital they have got – we are going to have an ageing boom, not an ageing bust in this country – what is going to help that is that the capital that is there if we can find ways to free that up without sending people backwards, then I think that can be a real driver of the economy.
JONES: Yeah see the National Centre of Social and Economic Modelling recently found there are 260,000 Australian households with a net worth, net, of more than $3 million and they enjoy welfare payments of $800 million a year. Now we can’t afford that. Look I am just going to pay our way here. Can you hang on?
MINISTER MORRISON: No worries.
JONES: Look I think the great virtue of what we have just been trying to do this morning is to reduce this taboo about welfare. The Minister is getting feedback, he is fair dinkum. He is on the same side as you are. We all want a better economy. We all want an affordable economy, we all want to profit from what the nation is doing but there has to be some intelligent debate and you can’t have that without listening to the people who are affected. My listeners have made a hell of a contribution. We haven’t been able to hear from them all but Bill is here. Bill?
CALLER: Yeah good morning, Alan, good morning, Minister.
MINISTER MORRISON: G’day Bill.
CALLER: Yeah my question is to you and to the government. As the government is spending big dollars on national security and advertising that if you know something or if you hear something, you say something, what’s the government doing or advertising in regards to if you know someone that’s cheating the welfare on specific payments, getting welfare, to ring anonymously and advise that they are cheating and that you investigate?
MINISTER MORRISON: We do actually have a system that does that currently and many of the things we act on are off tip offs from the public, but you make a good point Bill about ensuring that we give that a lot more oxygen out there and that people are better aware of it and I’ll take that directly as a very good suggestion which we’ll move on as part of the integrity measures that we’re working on right now.
ALAN JONES: But on those integrity measures, if people felt that there was someone next door legitimately living in a housing commission home and they’re on $150,000, how do you let authorities know because you’re angry about this, how do you let them know?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well I’m just looking for the number here in front of me but–
JONES: But you’re new, you’re entitled not to know.
MINISTER MORRISON: If you go to the Human Services website, it will have it there but that’s a very good point and I think we do need to give that a stronger emphasis because frankly, people like Leah, who we were talking to before don’t deserve the disrespect of people rorting the system when she’s out there working hard every day. Alan, I reckon you and I should send her a bunch of flowers because she’s an absolute champion.
JONES: Yes, I take that point. That number by the way is, 131 524 I think. 131 524. Just one final thing because you now have to go, and we will do this again, but how do you manage though when you’ve got an intransigent Labor party that don’t want seemingly to support anything that seeks to retire the unconscionable debt that we face?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well you expose them I think and that’s what we’re seeking to do and I think Bill Shorten has been massively exposed over the last few weeks on a whole range of issues. I mean these guys just don’t front up with funded ideas, I refer to is as unfunded empathy. Now empathy is something I think all Australians have but when you’re in government or when you want to be in government then you have to have practical empathy.
JONES: Good on you.
MINISTER MORRISON: That means having the money and supporting the government to do the things that need to be done in this area. So Iook, that’s an open invitation.
JONES: Good to talk to you, good to talk to you. Thank you for that, we’ll do it again.
MINISTER MORRISON: Thanks, Alan. Thanks to your listeners as well.