4 April 2016
Transcript - #2016042, 2016

Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

SUBJECTS: COAG; ABCC; Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal; Labor’s reckless tax and spend approach to the Budget; Labor’s unfunded promises on health and education; Ensuring government lives within its means; Delivering our commitment – no children in onshore detention; Labor’s border protection policy disaster

HADLEY:

Treasurer good morning.

TREASURER:

G’day Ray, good to be with you.

HADLEY:

Good to be with you. COAG. The Premier and Chief Ministers rejected the Prime Minister’s proposal for them to levy their own income tax to pay for health and education. Do you see it as an embarrassing outcome as I’ve detailed this morning?

TREASURER:

No. I think what the Prime Minister did last Friday is call their bluff. I mean they’ve been running round saying give us more money, give us more money, give us more money. And when you say to them well, if you want more money why don’t you raise the tax, well they all run a mile. Now with the exception obviously of Colin Barnett who was prepared to support this, and Mike Baird was prepared to consider it, but when push comes to shove, they basically said no we’re happy for you to raise taxes we just won’t do it. Now we’re not going to raise taxes, they’re saying they don’t want to raise taxes so we agree on one thing. We shouldn’t be raising taxes to pay for promises that were made by Julia Gillard which were based on money that wasn’t there.

HADLEY:

So it was all a gee up?

TREASURER:

It was a clear question put the states and territories on a threshold issue…

HADLEY:

But he didn’t mean… he wasn’t going to do it. He just called their bluff you said.

TREASURER:

Well it was a serious proposal which called their bluff. Because they weren’t interested in having to somehow fund the higher levels of expenditure that they believed were promised to them by Julia Gillard. Well it was Julia Gillard who made those promises and she did it with money that wasn’t here. And I think what this whole episode has shown, is this gee up from the states, particularly the Labor states, you know, something that they’re demanding more and more, more and more money. We said well if you’re not prepared to raise it we’re certainly not going to increase taxes. And I think we’ve been able to deal with that issue once and for all and get on with it.

HADLEY:

You say we, but you were nowhere near the Penrith facility the day that he made the announcement. It appears to be a thought bubble. I mean I know they’d been general discussion  but it seemed to catch everyone on the hop, there was no detail, I mean if it was a gee up or a bluff, it was not one that was really detailed.

TREASURER:

This goes back to last December when both the state treasurers and I, and the state leaders and the Prime Minister agreed to come back with a proposal that looked at an issue around income tax sharing. So it had its genesis back last December and work has been done on that, they’d been cabinet meetings on it. Look we could have sent them an encyclopaedia on the thing, and we could have sent it to them three months in advance, but the threshold question, the response would have been the same… and that is… When push comes to shove would they be prepared to deal with the revenue issues themselves, the answer is no. They chose no, no, we just want to keep going to the Federal Government and asking for more and more money, now, all I know is as we lead up to this election, is every single time you hear Bill Shorten say that he wants to spend on this and that. It means higher taxes for everyone listening on this program. That’s what it means. When his lips are moving, he’s increasing your taxes.

HADLEY:

And what are you going to do?

TREASURER:

We’re going to live within our means… and what we did last Friday…

HADLEY:

Now hang on that’s a slogan…

TREASURER:

No, No…

HADLEY:

Live within our means. That’s four words. That’s a four word slogan.

TREASURER:

Mate what it is, is every person that listens to your program knows what it means to live within their means. You know what it means. And everyone  who’s managing a small business or managing a household budget knows you have to live within your means. And what we committed to the states last week was to support the further funding for health and we’ll be able to fund that within our budget. We didn’t go beyond what we could fund, we said what we could fund. Now Labor’s got promises to spend $60billion more than what’s currently in the budget. That’s what their hanging out there with at the moment. And the only way they’re going to be able to do that is by increasing taxes, or by increasing the deficit. So it’s a pretty clear choice.

HADLEY:

Now a photo op on Friday, you and the Prime Minister shared a car…

TREASURER:

We did.

HADLEY:

Well if the aim was to show you were a united team, I think it looked a little forced, and so did other people who saw the photo.

TREASURER:

Well you’re entitled to your view.

HADLEY:

Were you chained to the car, or hand-cuffed…

TREASURER:

Mate we were going to the airport cause I was hitching a ride with him back to Sydney.

HADLEY:

Who offered the ride?

TREASURER:

Prime Minister did.

HADLEY:

You didn’t ask, you didn’t think of Uber or a taxi, or commonwealth vehicle…

TREASURER:

Well you save money for me to get a ride with the Prime Minister mate, I don’t quite know what your point is…

HADLEY:

I’m just saying that it was coincidental. It was a nice chummy photo opportunity given that you were left out of the loop at Penrith Leagues where you should have been, given you were the Treasurer for a major announcement about what was being put to the states and territories at COAG.

TREASURER:

Well let me explain that. What happened on that day, a story based on the Prime Minister and his department advising the states and territories of what he wanted to raise with them on Friday, somehow that made it into the papers. And there was a whole bunch of reports out there which had obviously been briefed by others not the commonwealth and as a result he felt the need to go and give it some clarity.

HADLEY:

Who was it Palaszczuk or Andrews…

TREASURER:

I’ve got no idea.

HADLEY:

Come on…

TREASURER:

How do I know? I know it wasn’t The Commonwealth…

HADLEY:

Well hang on, let’s narrow it down, you know it wasn’t the Premier of New South Wales or the Premier of Western Australia. You know it wasn’t Jay… you know it wasn’t Jay Wetherill. So it comes down to two… I don’t think Tasmania really care…

TREASURER:

Well I’ve got no idea. All I know is, we were trying to deal in you know, a consultative way with the states and territories on this, it found its way into the press. The Prime Minister added some clarity but on Friday it was clear that they had no appetite, apart from as a said, Mike Baird being prepared to consider it, and Colin who was always prepared to take responsibility for his own budget, and that’s where it’s at. So look, I think that people can have a fairly clear read on this. And that is Julia Gillard made a whole bunch of promises to fund things for money that wasn’t there. That is clear. We’ve called the states bluff now on the fact that they wanted us to roll this money out and give them a bag of cash. We’ve always said we’re not going to do that. So now we’re into the real discussion which we got into on Friday about what can we do within our means to support health, we agreed that. And when it comes to education they said that this doesn’t need to be resolved until next calendar year and we’ve got a timetable for addressing that. So, there’s been a lot of theatrics around the commentary on the meeting. But that’s what the outcome was and that’s just people doing their jobs.

HADLEY:

Couple of photographers who work for News Limited have phone d while we’re talking, they were given 10 minutes notice of the photo op, of the PM and the Treasurer getting into a car together. It was a setup, that’s what they’re telling me. So they said if you want to get a really warm fuzzy photo of the Treasurer sharing a car with the Prime Minister, get here quickly because they’re in the car together, they’re sharing oxygen.

TREASURER:

And your point is…

HADLEY:

It was a setup, to make out you’re good pals…

TREASURER:

Well we are

HADLEY:

I might need that bible again here shortly…

TREASURER:

We get on just fine.

HADLEY:

Well getting on just fine is not your pal.

TREASURER:

But we are mate. We go back, as you’ve accused me of on previous occasions…

HADLEY:

Yeah I know you cornered him in Chinese restaurants and all the rest of it…

TREASURER:

And then you’ve had a crack at me for wearing a shirty like him in the past you know…

HADLEY:

Yeah I know.  You’re not going to answer me. David Leyonhjelm. I nearly fell out of the car driving home last night. I heard on our news bulletin that he’s going to solve all the ABCC things because he’s going to make amendments. He’s going to put an eight year sunset clause. I don’t know how the bloody hell, pardon my English, a sunset clause is going to work in legislation that’s supposed to protect the building industry.

TREASURER:

Well you make a good point. I mean, what we’ve said is, is that of course we would always consider fair dinkum amendments but nothing that’s going to undermine the integrity of this bill. Because a million people work in the construction industry, it has an impact on pretty much every investment involving capital works in the country, which is what drives jobs and growth, and some 70% of the industrial disputes we have are in the construction industry. So if people don’t think you need a special ABCC, to deal with that problem, then, you know, they’re kidding themselves. And this is important for our productivity and our growth and our jobs in the future. So look, it is exactly as you and I spoke last month Ray, Tuesday I think it was it is exactly as it is. Look, of course they can put up amendments but not things proposing, you know different bills and all the rest of it. And if it’s passed, well, we don’t need a double D, and if it’s not, we will.

HADLEY:

So let’s clarify, no amendments…

TREASURER:

Well their putting those amendments forward, I haven’t seen the text of them Ray… so I can’t…

HADLEY:

But you wouldn’t be agreeing to a sunset clause surely…

TREASURER:

Well I don’t know what is says Ray so I can’t give you a response on an amendment I haven’t seen.

HADLEY:

Look just an issue that is really concerning me, because no one seems to be taking much notice of it, with the exception of Glenn Lazarus who’s changed his position. Are you aware of this road safety remuneration tribunal, and what they’re doing to owner drivers across Australia, which are 35 thousand.

TREASURER:

Yeah I am, I met with a few groups of these guys, down in Canberra, and Nola Marino who’s the whip from Western Australia she had a number of them in. And I have had a good discussion with them on this, and I do have a lot of sympathy with them on this, and it’s not just on the issue that you’ve raised. They’ve also got a lot of issues claiming back diesel fuel rebates, being out of pocket, and we’re trying to solve those problems for them as well. But, these owner-drivers they’re getting a pretty rough go, and Michaela Cash made sure they’re apple to appeal this decision.

HADLEY:

I know that, and that was in the Federal Court late on Friday in Brisbane.

TREASURER:

So I think they know where our sympathies lie on this…

HADLEY:

I mean this Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal was another thought bubble from another Prime Minister in Julia Gillard to appease the TWU…

TREASURER:

That’s right.

HADLEY:

And I am disappointed in the TWU because they said via my program they wanted to look after owner-drivers and then were there on Friday opposing this matter in court and they are going to appeal the decision but can’t, with the stroke of a pen, someone in your government simply say no they are gone, we don’t want the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal anymore because they don’t have anything to do with safe work and they are only dealing with owner drivers and not the big companies?

TREASURER:

The union’s agenda here I think is pretty clear. They can have more union members if they are working for large companies and if they are owner-drivers then they cannot control them. I think that is what that is about and I think that is fairly transparent and I think it is fairly pathetic. My understanding Ray is it is not as easy to do as a stroke of a pen and if it was I think you would find us highly sympathetic. We have got to understand the safety issues as well, as I know you would to. You would have a lot of owner drivers listening to your program and would be aware of those things too. But I can tell you our sympathies are very much with them and if we can find a way through this then we certainly will, whether it is on those issues or some of those rebate issues and the timings of those. The large companies can claim their rebates back every month because they have the grunt and size of their accounting divisions to do that but the smaller operators can’t. They have to do it every quarter so they are out of pocket for every two or three months on their rebates. So we are working on a way to see if we can actually bring that together using technology. But we have been listening to them Ray and I have met with them.

HADLEY:

Ok. Kevin Rudd. He is stepping up his campaign to be elected Secretary-General of the United Nations pestering world leaders. I mean that is a good word for him – pest. Now Peter Dutton has made some very funny comments about how the world leaders will react when they see Kevin Rudd calling them. Should he drop off? I mean it is just embarrassing. He has coveted this role ever since he lost the Prime Ministership.

TREASURER:

Look I am not close to it but I don’t think there is much prospect of it and let’s just see where it goes but it may come to its natural conclusion.

HADLEY:

He reminds me, you are probably not old enough to remember, the cartoon you know the little dog and the big dog – ’can we, can we, huh?’ - ‘shut-up’. I mean he is like that with world leaders – ‘can I be leader? Can I? Can I, huh? Give me a vote’ - ‘shut up and go away’.

TREASURER:

Speaking of Peter Dutton though on another issue, one that is close to our hearts - being able to get that last child out of detention on Friday that was a very special achievement and I want to commend Peter for that. Obviously when I came into the role and when we stopped the boats and some 700 or thereabouts children were able to get out by the time I handed over the reins to Peter and he has been able to continue that and good on him. But can I also thank the Operation Sovereign Borders people who are involved in this? Politicians yes we took decisions and the former Prime Minister, we all took those decisions, Tony Abbott, to do those things but the people who really out there made it work, the people working out in Border Protection Command at the time, the people working on our Naval and Customs vessels, the people who are working for the Federal Police. The people who made this happen. I have an intimate knowledge of what they had to do and what they put up with and I am so proud of them and they would have been as happy as I was on Friday to learn that that last child was out of detention because that was one of the things we wanted to see happen from stopping the boats. Good on you Peter Dutton and thanks for continuing the great work that you picked up from Tony and I and he and Malcolm have carried that on.

HADLEY:

50,000 was the number of asylum seekers who arrived during the Gillard/Rudd Governments and don’t forget this doesn’t get heard anymore – [plays boat horn].

TREASURER:

It doesn’t.

HADLEY:

Used to get heard on a daily basis through the course of that Labor Government and on that alone they surrender their right to govern I would think because they just open the borders and 50,000 people later, many thousands died at sea, we will never know the exact number, all because of their insanity.

TREASURER:

Well that is true and I don’t think they have really learnt anything in opposition about this. When you are thinking about Tanya Plibersek potentially if she was the Foreign Minister sitting around the national security table deciding on whether you are going to do a turn back or not you know where she is going to fall.

HADLEY:

Well she is Angela Merkel with an Australian accent.

TREASURER:

I think that is a bit unkind to Angela Merkel. That is what you face – those guys in their guts don’t believe it, they opposed it tooth and nail and only got forced to accept it after it was demonstrably successful. So who are you going to back about keeping the borders secure going forward – someone who had to be dragged kicking and screaming and a team that fought all opponents. And look I thank you too Ray. You were one of the first people in the media to back the Coalition on these issues all those years ago when we were in opposition and your listeners were too. They can share in that very strong humanitarian outcome of people not drowning, kids not drowning and kids not being in detention. Wouldn’t have happened under Labor and let’s just hope we never have to do that again but I tell you if Labor get the chance I suspect we might.
HADLEY: We will see you next week, thanks for your time.

TREASURER:

Thanks Ray, cheers.