HOST: Social Services Minister Scott Morrison joins us now. Minister good morning to you, thanks for your time. We just want to get your reaction to Peter Greste’s release overnight. Great news.
MINISTER MORRISON: It’s tremendous news and fabulous for his family, I am sure and all Australians I think we are all very, very happy about this. I want to particularly commend the work of, particularly our consular officials there who have been working very hard under the leadership of the government obviously. It’s very important I think for all Australians, this result today and for Peter in particular, it’s just great.
HOST: It sure is. How hard were our consular officials working? What did they do behind the scenes? Because this is a coup.
MINISTER MORRISON: I don’t think it’s very helpful to go into that sort of detail, quite honestly. What we should celebrate is that Peter is coming home. That’s fabulous. It’s fabulous for his family, it’s fabulous for all Australians and I know particularly for his colleagues for in the journalism profession, this is a great win.
HOST: OK, alright, now we walk to you about the other big issue of the day, of the moment right now. One of the newspapers this morning is saying that it’s D-day for Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The newspaper is saying that his job is hanging in the balance, and his speech today at the press club at lunchtime today is his last gasp hope for survival. Is he going to dump the paid parental leave scheme?
MINISTER MORRISON: The Paid Parental Leave will not be proceeding. I think this is the right decision for us going forward at the moment. We have to make sure our priorities for reform are in touch and in sync with the community’s priorities and the priorities right now is to increase labour force participation, get people into jobs. We got over 200,000 people into new jobs last year. That’s over 500 jobs a day. That’s good progress and we need to keep getting people into jobs and that means we must put our focus on the childcare part of this equation, not the PPL part of the equation and that’s a decision the Prime Minister has taken with myself and others. We have been working on that for some time. We have to get the priorities right for reform to get people into work.
HOST: You’ve got a Cabinet meeting tomorrow. Will the leadership be discussed?
MINISTER MORRISON: What will be discussed tomorrow is the job we have to do for Australians. We are doing our day job, that’s the important thing. All ministers, all members of the government, we have to do our day jobs which is ensuring we are delivering for the people of Australia which is what we were elected to do. We have made great progress, jobs have been created. Boats have stopped. Carbon tax gone, mining tax gone. This government has significant achievements and the problems don’t go away. They will also always be there until we address them and that’s what we’re focused on.
HOST: Government achievements aside, he leadership is the major issue here. Now the polls are screaming that Tony Abbott is so unpopular, there’s almost no way back. We saw what happened in Queensland on the weekend. Your name is floated around as a potential leader. Would you challenge Tony Abbott?
MINISTER MORRISON: Absolutely not. I am focused, as I know my colleagues are focused, on doing the job that the Australian people need us to do. To deal with the problems we have been left by Labor, the debt and deficit disaster, the border protection chaos. All of this was only 18 months ago. That’s how fresh it is. And that’s why I think Australians today, I would hope would give Tony the opportunity to outline his plan to go forward. You won’t hear a plan from Bill Shorten, you will hear a plan from Prime Minister Tony Abbott today.
HOST: If one of your colleagues challenged the Prime Minister for the leadership, would you throw your hat in the ring, is it something you would look to do down the track.
MINISTER MORRISON: I am not doing any of those things, no.
HOST: If the party room came to you and said “You are the man. You are history with stopping the boats, your – your leadership potential, we want you in there?” What would you say to them?
MINISTER MORRISON: I know people’s interest in this issue. Frankly, it’s not a reality television show, the federal leadership. It is the very serious business of dealing with the problems that we have; we have to deal with for the country. And that’s where the cabinet is focused. That’s where I’m focused, that’s where the Prime Minister is focused and that’s where the people expect us to focus.
HOST: The Queensland election results were a must have shocked?
MINISTER MORRISON: They were a great shock and a great message to everyone to really take in and I think the message is this: the pace of reform is important. The need for it is crucial. The problems don’t go away unless you change the things that need to be changed but the pace must be with the priorities of the Australian people, and at a pace that the Australian people can absorb and that’s why PPL is going to ensure that we can focus on the priorities of childcare and particularly for those on middle to low incomes, so we can get women and men into work at that time.
HOST: Scott Morrison, thanks for your time today.
MINISTER MORRISON: Thanks, Samantha.