Transcript by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

2GB with Ray Hadley

Program: 2GB with Ray Hadley


HADLEY: Normally the Social Services minister, Scott Morrison, joins me on Monday but he was preoccupied yesterday for obvious reasons, he’s in our Canberra studio, Minister, good morning

MINISTER MORRISON: G’day Ray, yes we were a bit preoccupied yesterday.

HADLEY: You’ve got to be careful when you walk into those votes with Arthur Sinodinos. I was watching Sky News and Kieran went into a state of apoplexy and David was concerned, he said “what does this mean! What does this mean! Arthur Sinodinos and Scott Morrison together!”

MINISTER MORRISON: Absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing. I mean, when all these things happen Ray, down here I think people get into a bit of a lather and the media is no exception to that. I mean I walked to the party room the same way I always do, I bumped into Arthur on the way in and I hadn’t seen him since last year and you know, even though it was a very difficult time, colleagues are still colleagues because colleagues have to work together all the time, regardless of what our various views are and I think people could have taken a bit of a chill pill yesterday.

HADLEY: How did you vote by the way? You weren’t the ‘pass’ were you?

MINISTER MORRISON: I’m sorry I missed that?

HADLEY: How did you vote?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well mate, I’ve done what I’ve always done in this, and Julie made the point this morning, the Prime Minister had the support obviously of his executive and his Cabinet yesterday…

HADLEY: Well Simon Benson says no, six ministers voted for a spill.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well after these things there’s always people who go around and say these sorts of things Ray. The Prime Minister clearly had the support of his Cabinet and his ministry yesterday and it was a difficult day yesterday Ray, it was a tough day yesterday but I’ll tell you this: the worse day under an Abbott Government is still better than the best day under a Shorten Labor government because under a Shorten Labor government, what happens is, the debt gets bigger, the deficit gets bigger, the boats come back, the carbon tax comes back – that’s what happens.

HADLEY: But so does– Hang on, stop. That happens if you elect Malcolm Turnbull as well.


HADLEY: Yes it does.

MINISTER MORRISON: That’s not even an issue here and that’s what the party room made very clear yesterday. What the party room made clear yesterday is they put all of the Ministers, all of the Cabinet, everyone, on notice that they want to see an improved performance from us in selling the message, in getting the message out and ensuring the policies are exactly where they need to be, in synch with the Australian people and that’s their job because they’re backbenchers in the government and I think they have the absolute right to send that message and give us all a bit of a tidy up and I think that’s exactly what they did and I think that message has been received loud and clear. I mean they couldn’t have made it any clearer if they’d turned up with baseball bats, but look, that’s the nature of politics and that’s the nature of our party, it’s one where people have the ability to ventilate these things ultimately. That’s what they’ve done and none of us are shy in this business and none of us are precious and we’ve got to cop that and get back to work in the way the Australian people expect. What I noticed from Bill Shorten yesterday though, was cocky Bill, totally cocky, he thinks he’s got this thing wrapped up in the bag, and I know so many of our supporters who are out there listening to this Ray, they’ve been frustrated, they’ve been disappointed, they’ve been angry, all of those things and I know why they feel that way, it’s because they cannot bear the idea of Labor– who just less than 18 months ago had wrecked the joint– being able to come back. Now you can’t fix their mess in 18 months, it’s going to take a lot longer than that but yesterday we dealt with ours and we get on with it.

HADLEY: Well, you say you’ve dealt with it, but history is littered, from both sides of politics, with spill motions being defeated or being fulfilled, and then six months later, the bloke who got beaten – including Turnbull who’s done it before – having another crack. I mean, it’s there. And one of the things that you’ve got, and I am a member of the media so I don’t exclude myself from this, sometimes when we make predictions in the media, it’s almost when we get beaten like many were yesterday, I mean there were plenty of people over the weekend from all forms of media, electronic and print, saying look he’s gone, dead man walking, he won’t get it. Then yesterday, it was if he doesn’t you know get–if he gets more than 40 against him he’s gone, and it was 39, so it’s sort of like a self-fulfilling prophecy from some commentators where they were wrong yesterday but they’ll kind of make sure they’re right into the future by death riding Tony Abbott and supporting and sort of offering some sort of support indirectly to Malcolm Turnbull. Now, you know we’ve got an election in NSW, with a budget to come, there’s a front page story today and I don’t believe Tony Abbott will either sack Peta Credlin or Joe Hockey but there is a possibility that Joe could say well look, for the betterment of the party I’ll fall on my sword and go and somebody else can have a crack. I said yesterday I thought the Prime Minister should have tapped Malcolm on the shoulder and said look, you didn’t offer yourself for election yesterday, everyone knows you and Arthur have been plotting this a week or a month, whatever, why don’t you just go back to Wentworth and leave us all alone but he won’t do that because that may be seen as another captain’s pick. So what does he do? I mean you can’t–I don’t think he can, Scott Morrison, leave it as it is. You can’t have the status quo remain, you can’t just pretend yesterday didn’t happen and Joe Hockey’s still Treasurer, he’s still Prime Minister, Malcolm’s still there in the background as Communications Minister, agitating for change because he thinks he’s got a god given right, with a silver spoon in his mouth, even though he wasn’t born with one, he’s now got one in his gob, he thinks he’s got the right to govern and he’s had three cracks at it, four cracks at it, five yesterday if you count that, at becoming Prime Minister and has been unsuccessful on every occasion. I think he’ll have one more crack and it will be later this year.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well Ray, I actually don’t agree with your analysis there about Tony, about Malcolm, about Joe. What happened yesterday did happen yesterday and it was a very difficult and brutal day. These things I think take a great toll and that’s why it’s important that they get ventilated and they get done but what the party room said yesterday was that they want Tony and they want Joe and they want to continue to put together a budget we need to take the people and to the parliament, they want us to get on with the job of supporting families, of building small business, giving them the support they need. National security is so top of mind, right across the country, but I know particularly in our home city of Sydney because that comes up to me all the time. I mean these are all the things we are dealing with and they want us to get on with doing that and people will speculate Ray and they can do that and people picked nine out of the last, you know, one demises and that’s what often happens in the media but they can and I don’t begrudge them that, it can make good radio, it can make good television. But that’s not what our business is and I think yesterday was a very ventilating and clarifying experience for this Cabinet and I say for the whole Cabinet, it is now about doing the things we said we would do, which is I know why people are frustrated and disappointed because they want to see us do that because I said it before, even the worst day in our government is better than the best day in a Shorten Labor government because they will bring all that mess back and we just will not let happen and I don’t think the Australian people want us to either.

HADLEY: Well you and I can differ on whether my view of it is the same as yours and we enjoy the debate, however there’s one inescapable thing: the Senate is hostile and you can’t implement what you wish to implement to reign in the budget, you can’t do it. You can’t do it with lunatics like Lambie and Palmer, he’s not in the Senate but he’s there holding sway, you can’t do it and you can’t do it because Bill Shorten won’t let you do it so how do you institute change with a hostile senate? Please don’t tell me negotiation because that hasn’t worked for 14 months Scott, it’s not going to work for the next 14 months either.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well Ray I can tell you it did work last year. I got the Temporary Protection Visa bill, one of the most controversial pieces of legislation and we got that through, we got the carbon tax through, we got the mining tax through–

HADLEY: But it doesn’t–our biggest problem is–it’s a billion dollars a month mate.

MINISTER MORRISON: You don’t need to tell me that Ray. It’s $14 billion a year in interest we’re paying.

HADLEY: And they won’t let you make drastic changes to the way we spend money in government, they won’t let you do it, so every month it’s a billion and growing in interest, not principal, interest and that’s the biggest thing confronting the electorate at the moment.

MINISTER MORRISON: I don’t doubt that, and we have to make incremental gains on deficit and on debt and we need to do that in synch with what you can actually get through the parliament, but you make the right point, Bill Shorten is the one blocking the ability of the government to get on with supporting change that can improve our budget position. If we continue to have that frustration, then yes, the country does pay the price for that, they do get the bill from Bill Shorten for not being able to proceed with that and I think that’s a real challenge for the government but we don’t shy away from it because we weren’t elected to shy away from the challenge, we were elected to confront it. Now if you don’t get it one way, you’ve got to go around and try and get it another way through the Senate. The Senate is there and we’re here, that’s the reality of the situation. You don’t whinge about the state of the pitch when you’re playing on the field you just get on and seek to win the match, and that’s what we have to do Ray because the stakes are incredibly high because people know what Labor will bring back.

HADLEY: Now back to your portfolio, I took a call yesterday from a lady, Jo, who disclosed to me on air she’d been on a part aged pension of around $800 a fortnight, my listeners tell me that can’t be a part aged pension, it must be a full aged pension. She made the point she’d paid tax for 37 years, God bless her for doing that, but she was complaining to me that she’d just returned from a six week holiday somewhere in Europe vising her mother, she was gone for six weeks, her flight was delayed returning meaning her pension was docked, apparently, by six dollars for that day. Now I said to her look there’s plenty of people on a pension listening to me across Australia at the moment who’d like to go to the caravan park for six days let alone overseas for six weeks and a lot of my listeners weren’t happy with Jo’s attitude, it wasn’t so much the six dollars because she said her son paid for the trip overseas, but how long can people actually be away under new legislation before they stop getting the aged pension?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well it’s about, it’s 26 weeks and for the DSP it’s four weeks and so I’d have to know specifically what payment she was on. If she’s talking about over $800 a fortnight well that’s the rate for a single aged pension but it’s also the full rate for a DSP so –

HADLEY: The thing about it is – I don’t want you to check anything because I said to her go and get the $6 off your son and that created a bit of a furore with people saying I was cruel and heartless and all the rest of it. But the simple fact of the matter is there is a sense of entitlement still and this is from a woman who worked 37 years and paid tax but wants to ring and say I don’t like the letter I got from Centrelink because they docked me $6. That is a sense of entitlement I want to get rid of and that is a sense of entitlement not from a bludger, from a person who has contributed for 37 years.

MINISTER MORRISON: And there are hundreds of thousands of people in this situation and as I have said on your programme last week or the week before – people who are on the aged pension had a deal with the government when they left school and they worked their whole life that there would be an aged pension at the other end. That is fair enough. I think one of the confusing things that is out there at the moment is that raising the retirement age from 67 to 70 – that doesn’t apply to people that are currently 50 or 55 or 60. That doesn’t come in for many, many years. It is going to apply to people of my generation and that is about long-term change. That doesn’t change the budget tomorrow but it changes it in the future. What we all have to do Ray is we all have to do as much as we can because that is how we get ourselves out of the situation we are in. Everybody needs to do as much as they can and everybody needs to work when they can. If someone does not need to claim a benefit, if they don’t really need it then it is not there as an entitlement in that sense, it is there because you really need it. That is what the taxpayers are prepared to pay for – the people who really need it. We need to make sure the system does that but we need to do it all together. We grow the economy together, we get people into work together and that is what we are doing as a government to encourage people to get involved and to do everything we can do to help them to do that.

HADLEY: Ok. People have been sending me emails. We didn’t get to this yesterday because there were other things happening. All government agencies have been cleared over their involvement with the Sydney siege gunman Man Monis. Now you were in immigration and now social services – these Departments had contact with Man Monis. He obtained a humanitarian visa when he arrived here back in the 1990s from Iran. He spent a considerable period receiving the DSP. How can we clear every agency? I mean someone has to take responsibility for that lunatic being here and staying here and taking as Alan said this morning matters to the High Court. If I or anyone else wants to battle legally, good luck getting someone to represent you in the High Court.

MINISTER MORRISON: Well Ray this isn’t my portfolio area anymore but I would just make this one observation – the thing governments have to get right, individual agencies can do absolutely everything right in situations but across all the agencies the interconnectedness of that and how all that plays out is something obviously the government always has to strive to do better on all the time. Our agencies do work well together but I don’t think there is any limit to the way you can get agencies working better together. The NSW Police under Andrew Scipione have done a tremendous job in all of these things and it was very difficult. That night my brother – he is a paramedic – he was on duty that night there in Martin Place. They do a great job. Everyone is trying to do a great job…

HADLEY: When they are not getting belted on the streets of Sydney and the Magistrates give the bloke that belt them a slap on the wrist.

MINISTER MORRISON: Absolutely. They have to put up with all of that. I think all of the agencies are doing their jobs but the job of all of us who particularly sit at a Ministerial and high level is to ensure that gets connected across all these agencies. We have got to make sure they all work together. To give you a really good example, when I came into the immigration portfolio – you and I discussed this when in opposition – getting the Immigration Department to talk to the state police just on simple things that when someone who was on a visa, particularly someone on a bridging visa who was an asylum seeker, if they got nicked and went to court then they don’t get to stay out on the bridging visa. They go back into detention. All we had to do was get the police and the immigration department to talk to each other. Got it done, it happened. That is I think the challenge we have.

HADLEY: Ok, as always thanks for your time.

MINISTER MORRISON: Thanks Ray, good to chat.