12 October 2015
Transcript - #2015016, 2015

Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

SUBJECTS: New South Wales State Council; immigration portfolio; Geert Wilders; Countering violent extremism; Newspoll; stage two of Gold Coast light rail on track for Commonwealth Games

RAY HADLEY:

Scott Morrison joins us every Monday on the Ray Hadley morning programme. He is in our Canberra studio right now. Treasurer, good morning.

TREASURER:

G’day, Ray, I hope you had your leather patches on your tweed jacket watching that rugby on the weekend.

HADLEY:

Well, no, it was very early in the morning, Minister, and even allowing for your predilection for the former amateur code I don’t think you would have had the leather patches on. I would have thought you would have been in your jarmies.

TREASURER:

I was but that is the great thing about the record button on Foxtel. I got to watch it first thing in the morning. Two great games over the last…

HADLEY:

Don’t tell me you didn’t stay up for it?

TREASURER:

No, no busy week this week mate so you need to get your beauty sleep.

HADLEY:

So what are you going to be like when you are my age? You will be fair dinkum in slippers and dressing gown. You will never watch it live.

TREASURER:

Well, I think I will be getting up for this next one against Scotland though I have got to say.

HADLEY:

Ok, now while I was on air on Saturday, I have just played this grab from the Prime Minister addressing the New South Wales Liberal State Council where he got laughed at when he suggested that there is no factions. I thought he was joking. I thought it was an attempt at humour and might have missed the mark but he was apparently fair dinkum – you’re not going to defend that are you? There are factions.

TREASURER:

There are all sorts of cliques in political parties. I mean I have been around the Liberal Party for a long time…

HADLEY:

You have benefited and you have also been beaten by them at different stages.

TREASURER:

Politics is a tough business and there are groupings of people in every organisation. In football clubs or in political parties or school P&Cs. I mean there is nothing terribly surprising about that. One thing though that is true, Ray, I have been around the scene for a long time, the Federal Parliamentary Party, as opposed to the New South Wales division or any other division of the Liberal Party, the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party has never been driven by those sorts of things. I mean all those sorts of things that happen in your home division are left back in your home states and I think that is the point that the Prime Minister is making. There were a few people at the meeting there who obviously are still feeling pretty bruised and we understand that and we will be judged on our performance – not on personalities.

HADLEY:

Now, Tony Abbott was there, as you were.

TREASURER:

Yeah.

HADLEY:

And according to reports today even though the media weren’t there he was very well received and spoke, as he did on my programme a couple of weeks ago, calling for unity.

TREASURER:

Yeah, he did. I had to leave by the time that happened that afternoon but I saw Tony there we shook hands and exchanged a few words and I am sure we will catch up at some time.

HADLEY:

What sort of words were they, Scott?

TREASURER:

Well, I said g’day and I had sent him a little note last week. So, I am sure we will catch up.

HADLEY:

What did he say back to you?

TREASURER:

Well, mate, that’s just between us but he said g’day.

HADLEY:

Anything else?

TREASURER:

It was a very, very short conversation because we were sitting just in that front row there and I was just about to leave so I wanted to say g’day to him before I left.

HADLEY:

Ok, so you didn’t hear what he had to say.

TREASURER:

No, I did.

HADLEY:

Oh, you did, sorry.

TREASURER:

But he just said g’day back and said thanks and off I went.

HADLEY:

So, in relation to what he said it was basically what he said on this programme. There is need for unity, we need to move forward and if you don’t vote for Malcolm Turnbull you are voting for Bill Shorten.

TREASURER:

Well, yeah, I think that is an obvious point and I appreciate him making it. Again, there will be views about personalities, everyone has views about personalities, but the real test of any Government is what it does and that is what we are 100 per cent focussed on.

HADLEY:

Now, just on other matters pertaining to security. I have had a phone call this morning from Nine News revealing a 16 year old boy had been stopped at Sydney Airport trying to leave the country for a flight to the Middle East. Do you know anything about it because we have a devil of a job trying to find out more about it?

TREASURER:

Well, it’s not for me to confirm those things, they are obviously matters for Peter Dutton for him to comment and they are issues of national security but last year some 336 passengers were offloaded; that is in the 14-15 year and that was done under the Counter Terrorism Unit with the Australian Border Force which we set up when I was the Minister at the time and they do an extraordinary job and they are part of a chain of people working in this area with the Federal Police and ASIO and other agencies to try and prevent these young people making the most stupid and dangerous decision of their lives and they are saving lives by doing these sorts of things. So, it is important work and it is also important work to be working with these communities to try to equip parents and friends and others to ensure that young people in these communities don’t fall prey and vulnerable to these despicable predators who are out there trying to twist people’s minds.

HADLEY:

I made comment on Friday when the Grand Mufti addressed the Australian population and I had made application to interview him previously, since he came to that position a number of years ago, and he has been here, we found out, since 1997. I was told by is staff that he wouldn’t conduct an interview with me because he wouldn’t conduct interviews in English. Now, I took from that that he couldn’t speak English. I now find out that he can speak English but he chose to address the nation in Arabic – rather than English. Now, as someone who was the former Immigration Minister and spoke often to me about the need to communicate and to learn the lingo, so to speak, where you surprised that he chose to speak in Arabic rather than English?

TREASURER:

No, I am not because it is his first language. I have met with the Grand Mufti, I have had very long meetings with him and he can speak English but he is much stronger in his native language with someone interpreting for him because he can better articulate his views. That is why I would practically think that he chose to do that, I don’t think there was anything more than that attached to it and he has other advisers who help him in crafting those sorts of statements. Look, I think it is important that these leaders do make these statements. As I have said to you before, I think the leadership that Jamal Rifi has shown and the sort of sentiments he has expressed which are very unequivocal, I think are very helpful. It is really important that we continue to adopt the process where we are trying to engage people here. That is what makes people safer, that is the advice that we have from the security agencies and we need to just have more engagement and less hostility.

HADLEY:

I note that your colleague, and I will talk to him on Thursday, Peter Dutton, decided to grant a visa to the anti-Islamic MP Geert Wilders. He is coming to Australia to give a series of speeches. Now, the President of the Lebanese Muslim Association says he has warned the Prime Minister that Mr Wilders’ visit will fan the flames of anti-Islamic sentiment. I find it a bit strange that we don’t have that outpouring of emotion from the Muslim community in relation to Hizb ut-Tahrir. But someone who offers an opposing view to them is howled down.

TREASURER:

Well, Taji Mustafa, who was the UK head of Hizb ut-Tahrir came out here I think it was in 2012 that was granted by Chris Bowen who was then the Minister for Immigration. I remember making the point then that if Hizb ut-Tahrir were allowed to come in well that obviously then sets where the bar is in terms of where others can come in. Now, Geert Wilders is a member of another national Parliament and I am sure that he would be quite conscious of the need to not come to someone else’s country and stir up trouble. I think a lot of things are said about what he says but he will come here and speak for himself. I think it is really important that whoever comes to our country that they don’t import the debates of overseas. We have our own discussion going on here and the comparison to things that are occurring in the UK and Europe don’t strictly translate to our Australian situation. We have a very different immigration history here to what has occurred in particular in Germany and the United Kingdom and I think it is really important that when people come that they treat Australians, all Australians, with respect and really pay tribute to the strong cohesive society that we have and do nothing to disrupt that.

HADLEY:

I know the Labor Party can’t change leaders without a vote from the rank and file but they would surely be worried today that they can get back to 50- 50 in Newspoll on two-Party preferred with the Government but the disparity between the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader is ever widening in terms of who would make the better PM or who is the better PM.

TREASURER:

Well, one of the measures they have and I mean on net satisfaction, it is one of the ones I think commentators most look at I mean the Prime Minister is on positive 25 and Bill Shorten is on minus 25 and the thing about that position is that Bill Shorten’s position hasn’t changed. That is just an observation – it’s not a commentary but, look, that is for the Labor Party to work out. We will be judged on our performance. We are encouraged by the fact that people are open to what we have to say and about some of the new approaches we hope to take in areas like infrastructure - the Prime Minister announced on Sunday support for the Gold Coast Light Rail, up there in Queensland, which means you will be able to get off a plane in Brisbane and get yourself all the way with one mode change down to the Gold Coast and that will be there to support the Commonwealth Games and previously we weren’t looking at things like public transport and particularly rail. So, I think that is a change. People are open to what we have to say, Ray, but they will be judging us on how well we do and I think they will keep their opinions to themselves for a while as they weigh this up.

HADLEY:

I know it’s not anything to do with you as a federal parliamentarian and a treasurer but I think you might have heard my comments earlier of your colleague, the very capable Corrective Services Minister, David Elliott. I was astounded to hear this morning, and given this is about terrorism and about stopping terrorism, and we have got a number of people either convicted or facing charges in Goulburn Maximum Security that correctional officers in New South Wales don’t have the ability to do a cavity search if they think a bloke has got a phone within his body. I was astounded by that. They can check for drugs but they can’t check for that. Would you think that we would need to make sure that the correctional officers are given full power to make sure that people don’t have phones organising other things to happen outside the jail?

TREASURER:

Well, look, I honestly will leave that to, David. As you know he is a very competent and capable Minister…

HADLEY:

Were you surprised?

TREASURER:

Well, I am a little bit surprised by it. I am surprised by a lot of things when you learn of them and it is for those Ministers, I think, to address these sort of things. We do know, we knew this in the immigration area in detention, I remember there was that bloke who was selling drugs out of one of the detention centres and that was the one, I think, I had a letter from Tony Burke about on behalf of a constituent. He wrote to me advocating this fella’s case, or noting this fella’s case, is a better thing to say, a more accurate way to describe. Look, you have got to try to make sure these places are secure because people from behind those walls can still have an influence on those outside the walls who can harm the public and I am sure that David, and Mike Baird and the team are all over it.

HADLEY:

Let’s hope they are. Thanks for your time, talk next week.

TREASURER:

Thanks a lot, Ray. See you next week.