2 March 2017
Transcript - #2017028, 2017

Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

SUBJECTS: National Accounts – December quarter 2016; Turnbull Government’s responsible Budget management; Labor’s Fair Work Commission hypocrisy; Coalition ends Labor’s bad deal for workers

RAY HADLEY:

The Treasurer is on the line. Treasurer, good morning.

TREASURER:

G’day Ray.

HADLEY:

We did have a yarn, you and I, about the .54 and even though I don’t think you are a nervous nelly you would have been a little bit nervous about those figures prior to them being released. A bit like our ratings in a fortnight, so to speak.

TREASURER:

The last figure was from September. I don’t think there was a serious economist or anyone else who thought there would be two successive quarters and that has obviously been borne about by the figures yesterday. It was a very strong figure. It came off some really good exports, householders out there spending. It shows that they have a lot of confidence in the economy and that they are out there participating which is great to see. It is a very good result but the point I also made yesterday, Ray, and for a lot of your listeners in regional areas. We know that not the whole country is necessarily feeling that 1.1 per cent and that 2.4 per cent. The job we have got is to make sure that the growth that we achieve reaches them, particularly, the hard working Australians in those areas who are really putting in. At the same time in the agricultural sector it was a very good result in ag. We were up 8.3 per cent for agriculture in that quarter. That was a terrific result.

HADLEY:

So, we have people who are greatly disadvantaged in rural areas but we have rural areas contributing to a very significant turn-around, obviously.

TREASURER:

Yes we do. The export performance was excellent. The thing called the current account deficit, that is something that we have had as a trading nation for a century, that is at its lowest level since 1980. That bodes very well for our credit rating. It means that we are less exposed internationally and that is good for the credit rating. Just yesterday in the Parliament the Labor Party are still voting against trying to get welfare spending under control. I said the other week you think these guys are deliberately trying to crash the Budget to crash the credit rating for their political gain. I think there is mounting evidence to support that.

HADLEY:

Growth is important but that is only one part of the story and you just touched on that, reining in spending and debt. Without the cooperation of the Labor Party in the Senate and some of the crossbenchers that makes it physically impossible to rein in spending.

TREASURER:

It makes it very difficult but that said since we have come to government we have been able to cut the growth and spending from over 3.5 per cent to less than 2 per cent. We have been able to cut the rate of growth in debt which was running on 34 per cent when Labor left office and we have cut that by two-thirds. So, we are making progress. Over $20 billion in Budget repair we got through in the back half of last year. There is still more to do and we need them to actually come to their senses and show a bit of responsibility and stop asking tax payers to pay higher welfare bills. Eight out of 10 taxpayers who I used to talk to you about when I was social services minister, they go to work every day and pay income tax just to pay the welfare bill.

HADLEY:

I mentioned much earlier this morning, and this story is doing the rounds, the ALP has grossly overestimated the number of people who will be affected by the Sunday penalty rates. They are talking about 700,000 almost and the real figure is closer to 285,000. Then in relation to Mr Shorten who has overestimated that. You take the case of the Cleanevent workers, when he was in charge of a union in Victoria, who wiped out penalty rates altogether and that company said it made a difference to their bottom line of about $400 million. People are perceptive enough to see through all of this and he can’t on one hand condemn the Fair Work Commission for saying this is – and he put the bloke in charge there, well he didn’t but his government did – saying we need to rein this in and on the other hand say this is terrible. This is dreadful. This is the worst thing that could possibly happen.

TREASURER:

That is exactly it, Ray. He traded away penalty rates like I used to trade footy cards when I was nine. He used to basically just trade them away every other day. What was most outrageous, even when he did that, it wasn’t to help the workers it was to get money out of businesses to pay into the union coffers. It was an un-clean event. There’s no doubt about that. This bloke, he set up the Fair Work Commission, he picked everybody. He did the line markings, he picked the ref, he picked everybody, all his people, and they have come up with this decision and it is his because he is the one who set it up.

HADLEY:

Even the person in charge of the Fair Work Commission, who was appointed by him, said and has stated publically their opposition to changing those penalty rates on a Sunday to fall in line with Saturday and then said, no, the evidence to be fair to them, was overwhelming and in the end they had to change it.

TREASURER:

That’s the finding they made and they looked at page, after page, after page – go and read it. You hear small businesses, particularly in the hospitality industry, a lot of pub owners and they are saying, “we have to close down our bistro on a Sunday” or we would put more people on on a Sunday and they wouldn’t work as the owner on the Sunday and that would create more jobs. We will see this play out into the future. That is certainly my hope and that more young Australians will have an opportunity. But as I said yesterday, you can’t get a job in a business that is closed. You can’t get a pay rise in a business that is going backwards. What we are focussed on is ensuring that businesses can do well, so they can employ people and that they can improve their wages.

HADLEY:

Well, it sounds like you are of the opinion that the Fair Work Commission’s right and the decision to cut these penalty rates as opposed to slash them will make a difference to employment prospects for many people. It will create more jobs. Is that what you are agreeing with?

TREASURER:

What I am saying is that is what the Fair Work Commission has found. The Productivity Commission has found something very similar. That is the evidence and the judgment they have made. Well, now we will just all get on with it. There is this firthy idea that the Labor Party has been putting around that’s saying, oh look, it’s an independent decision of a commission but somehow the Parliament now has to ratify it. Well, that’s not true. You don’t have to do that on a Federal Court Decision or a Reserve Bank Decision or anything like that, the reason you have independent commissions is they make their findings independently, and the only thing Bill Shorten doesn’t like, it wasn’t the finding that he thought he was setting it up to do.

HADLEY:

Just on Mr Shorten again, this story today by Sharri Markson on the front page of the Telegraph today, the 457 visa holders, it’s revealed that Peter Dutton will later today, and I’ll talk to him after 9 o’clock on my program as I regularly do on a Thursday, he’ll reverse this decision which was put in place by Bill Shorten when he was the minister responsible under the previous government.

TREASURER:

Guess who the Immigration Minister was?

HADLEY:

Go on.

TREASURER:

Chris Bowen.

HADLEY:

(laughs) It gets better and better and better.

TREASURER:

Chris Bowen was the Immigration Minister and, remember, he was the bloke who renewed Alex Vella’s visa.

HADLEY:

The thing about it is, and look, it’s not about the fast food outlets, and they’ve been named KFC, Maccas and Hungry Jacks, I mean they’re acting within the law. But, they said originally it was intended for regional areas. Well, we’ve got high unemployment in regional areas. And this goes back to your earlier point about welfare payments. If we’ve got people’s, and you know I don’t want to detract from hardworking Australians in rural Australia, but if we’ve got people sitting on their backsides not having a crack to the extent we’ve got to bring people from the UK, from India and from other places to work at Maccas and KFC and Hungry Jacks in those regional areas, well someone has got to say to the people in those regional areas, the idle ones, the leaners not the lifters, to take one from Tony Abbott, hey listen, there’s a job here. Get down there and get it.

TREASURER:

This is something Christian Porter is continuing to work on as Social Services Minister but you’re right about the hypocrisy. Bill Shorten was the world champion at issuing 475 visas, and if that wasn’t enough he had to go and do a deal for what was called the Fast Food Industry Labour Agreement, to basically allow it to happen more. There are 11 per cent of thereabouts fewer 457 holders in Australia today than there was under Labor. They wax and wail about it but they were the ones who were handing them out like confetti.

HADLEY:

And it will change today. I thank you for your time, well done. Takes the pressure off.

TREASURER:

It’s great to see the number, I’m looking for another good result…

HADLEY:

I knew this was coming, I knew this was coming.

TREASURER:

Shark Park tonight, season opener. Go the Sharks against the Broncos.