1 October 2015
Transcript - #2015006, 2015

Doorstop interview, Canberra

SUBJECTS: Meeting with National Reform Summit participants

QUESTION:

Mr Morrison, the stakeholders involved in today’s discussion say they want to see real commitments come out of today’s meeting. Is that likely to happen?

TREASURER:

I have actually met with quite a number of them, as you would expect, over the course of the last week or so. The opportunity of today is for the conveners of the summit to come and sit down with the key economic Ministers of the government and first unpack what they were able to agree, where the consensus current exists and then I think to start to work forward as to how this consensus could be progressed. So look, I think today is the first step in what I am sure will be a process in the months ahead certainly obviously between now and the next election and I think it is a really good early opportunity. So the government is in listening mode today and we will be doing that carefully. But the opportunity is, as I said, to unpack a lot of the discussion that has been reported on and the statements and I think to get a better understanding of where they are all coming from and what the objective is. We have got to be careful that we do not move too quickly to the features of the discussion. We remain at the top level right now on what the benefits are. I think the Australian people would be very pleased to see the various groups coming together to and having an important discussion about the future of our economy because that is what I know the Australian people would want us to be focused on and we are. They are concerned about their jobs, their futures and we need to make sure that the debate remains very focused on what is of benefit for the Australian people.

QUESTION:

How do you manage the needs of unions, business and community on issues like GST, penalty rates? How do you manage the concerns and the needs of those three stakeholders?

TREASURER:

The first step is to listen. That is the first step and to build understanding about what their respective positions are and where there is real consensus about objectives. It is tempting I suppose for some to want to quickly jump into this element of the tax system or that element of the workplace relations system. That is really I think for later. What we have to understand today is are we all committed to the issue of ensuring strong economic growth, are we all committed to ensuring that we are strengthening the budget position? Are we committed to ensuring that there are the right incentives for people to be able to move from welfare to work? These are core commitments of the government because we believe that is what is going to strengthen the Australian economy and improve the security that people have around their jobs and futures and an economic plan that gives people certainty, not just for the next few years but for the next five and ten years. I think that is the opportunity of this process and I think today is a good start.

QUESTION:

Is it just a talk-fest though, doesn’t everybody already agree on all of those things?

TREASURER:

The key agreement I am looking for is the agreement of the Australian people. We can all have our various views on this but the people we need to engage are the Australian people and what are the objectives they want to see out of this process. So I welcome the commitment of the Business Council for example to engage directly in that process in a campaign to talk about what are the benefits of tax system changes for them? Because at the end of the day they will have the final say out of this as they absolutely should. So these discussions are important. I think today is the first in many steps and it is important that we listen today and we have the opportunity to unpack the details of what was discussed at the summit.

QUESTION:

In these discussions do you believe there will be a focus on one particular area?

TREASURER:

No I think it will be fairly broad ranging given the meetings I have already had with many of the principals as well as some of the organisers of the summit that was held by the Financial Review and The Australian and KPMG. So I think and I hope it will be a broad ranging discussion. I think it should be a very candid discussion but the most important thing is we have to agree on where we want to go and what we want to achieve. Once, I have found, that you can build some consensus around what you want to achieve then the discussions about the features and how you get there become a little less complicated. That is what I am hopeful of today. I think it is a positive step. There is a great opportunity here that we can seize on and we need to build on it. But today is just one step, it is not the full journey.

QUESTION:

[inaudible] penalty rates, do you think they are outdated?

TREASURER:

Again, we are in a situation where people are leaping to features rather than just focusing on the benefits. What I want to see is a system where people have the flexibility to be in work and stay in work and realise their working ambitions. That goes right across the board. I have come out of a portfolio in Social Services where there are many people who are disadvantaged, who have disabilities, things of this nature who can find the current system very difficult to work with. It is important that all Australians get the opportunity to fulfil their economic potential and we certainly want tax systems and workplace relations and competition policy systems that enable Australians to realise their potential. That is what productivity is. We throw this word around -productivity - all the time. What does it mean? It means that Australians and businesses can realise their real potential. I know this – when Australians realise their potential and when businesses realise their potential then Australians can be very, very confident about our economic future.

Thank you.