16 November 2015
Transcript - #2015047, 2015

Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

SUBJECTS: Paris terror attacks; National Platform for Economic Growth and Jobs.

RAY HADLEY:

Treasurer Scott Morrison, good morning.

TREASURER:

Good morning, Ray.

HADLEY:

What were your first thoughts when you started hearing early Saturday morning about the terror attack in Paris and as I was on air it developed to 18 dead, 40 dead and now in excess of 130 with another 99 people fighting for their lives.

TREASURER:

Well, just a human response, Ray. I was actually having coffee with my family and we were just sitting there with my girls and there were other people there in the same café and everyone was learning the news at about the same time and it was one of just great terrible sadness but then that quickly moves to one of great anger at just the carnage of such a despicable terrorist event. One of murder – not of martyrdom. Your thoughts go immediately to the families, they go to the people who are stuck in that theatre for that period of time because at that time when we learnt of it those events were still taking place. At the same time you know Ray, we have got to just live our lives because that is what they want to stop. What they want us to do is to be struck down in terror and horror and the best thing Australians can do apart from expressing their great sympathies and prayers for those who have been affected is to get about their day, to go about their lives, to prepare for Christmas, to spend time with friends and family, to rejoice in the wonderful country in which we live and send the best possible message that that ain’t going to change.

HADLEY:

You have been condemned as Immigration Minister and your former Prime Minister Mr Abbott condemned for your stance on the open border policy of the former Labor government. It now transpires at least one of the suicide bombers fled to France through Greece as a refugee from Syria. Are you concerned that many of the 50,000 people that may have come here during the reign of Labor are not who they purport to be?

TREASURER:

Well, there are always issues about determining people’s identities through that process. What I am pleased about is that 4,000 people aren’t turning up a month illegally by boat anymore. Of course we are pleased that means that people aren’t dying at sea, but equally our borders were shut when this Government came to power and we put in place the policies which ensured that we didn’t have illegal movements of people across our borders in such large numbers. That means now we have a process where people come to this country the right way, with the right checks and Peter Dutton was just over in the Middle East recently, first-hand, looking at how those checks and processes are being put in place. But from the day we were elected and this continues today we set about protecting Australia and putting in place the appropriate security resources. We increased the resources to our security agencies, our border agencies by over $600 million and we set about protecting Australia and that remains our first and most important responsibility.

HADLEY:

What do we do now in relation to the 12,000 Syrian refugees? Now, when we first started talking about this when Prime Minister Abbott announced it we, look, we can’t pussy-foot around, we said marginalised people i.e. Christians, people who had been oppressed i.e. Christians. Will it be, people are concerned in writing to me today, can we get any guarantee from the Government that we will only accept Syrian Christians into the country given they have been so oppressed and so marginalised in their own country?

TREASURER:

Well, there has been no change to the policy that Tony Abbott announced under Prime Minister Turnbull, it is the same process, it is the same focus, it is the same priorities.

HADLEY:

Why won’t someone say it is only Christians? Why won’t Government say? Are you terrified of being condemned by the Muslim population for saying it is only Christians? Why won’t anyone in Government say it? We pussy-foot around…

TREASURER:

I said it then, Ray, and I am saying again today – there has been no change in my language and I don’t think in the Government’s. The Christians are the most persecuted group in that part of the world. There are others, minority groups as well, not just Christians and they are also a keen focus and there are also some Muslim groups who are persecuted in those areas. The difference is this, the Christians in the Middle East can never return for generations. Not in 15 years if peace is brought to Syria, which I think is a very difficult prospect, but they can never, ever go back and what we’re offering is permanent resettlement, the opportunity for families to rebase themselves in this country and to be here for generations to come. That is why the priority is where it is – it hasn’t changed, it is exactly where it was when we first announced the 12,000 under Prime Minister Abbott.

HADLEY:

I found myself punching the air with great delight, for some bizarre reason, having sat in here for three hours on Saturday and listened and reported on the carnage when I heard that the Russians were contemplating sending 150,000 troops into Syria – my words, not theirs – to clean them up to put an end to this nonsense and I have just enunciated at the start of the programme, via Fairfax, the attacks just this year – not for the last five years, this year – many of them on Mosques…

TREASURER:

Yes.

HADLEY:

Across the Middle East, it appears now there are discussions going on between the Americans and the Russians about a change of Government in Syria but that it is 12 months down the track. Don’t we need an immediate response to what has happened? Not just to the French people on Friday night – their time – but to the other nations. I mean the carnage that has been created every month since January.

TREASURER:

Evil is not discriminating between people of faith, they are just slaughtering and murdering people wherever they can find the opportunity to do so. The French Government has obviously sent their first response in terms of the bombing attacks that we have seen reported today. The involvement of the Russians when it comes to Syria has certainly had a big impact on how that particular situation is unfolding but let’s not forget the suggestion that somehow you can just roll into Syria and Iraq and clean this up in a week or two is foolish and no one is suggesting that – you’re certainly not suggesting that.

HADLEY:

No, I’m not saying a week or two but I found myself punching the air that someone was finally saying, look, the time for discussion is over. The time for the odd bombing raid is over. We need to get rid of these people in Raqqa and the other places, we need to get them and get them out and destroy them.

TREASURER:

Well, that requires a level of military response globally that is quite different to what is being led presently. That is why I think the Defence Minister, very rightly and clear headedly, said this morning that the Australian Government will look at any requests that are made and you have to Ray. The suggestion that somehow Australia, acting unilaterally, can go and change the situation in the Middle East is foolhardy.

HADLEY:

I’m not suggesting that.

TREASURER:

We have to be part of…

HADLEY:

We need the big players. We need the Russians, the Americans, we need the French and the British to go bang, crash, wallop and we can get on their coat tails.

TREASURER:

And we are already performing well above our weight when it comes to our involvement in Iraq. We are doing what would be expected of a nation like Australia and we are doing more than that but you rightly say at the end of the day it comes down to the sort of countries that you have mentioned, they have all been together in terms of the G20 meeting and there were further meetings of global leaders over the course of this week which is where the Prime Minister is. We must be clearheaded about this. We mustn’t let our emotions rule our judgment on this, we have every right to be furious and angry, but at the same time when you are committing Australian lives into those sorts of zones you must do it in a very clearheaded way.

HADLEY:

Ok, a couple of other things – the Grand Mufti. You have heard me talk about this on air: “These recent incidents highlight the fact that current strategies to deal with the threat of terrorism are not working. It is therefore imperative that all causative effects, such as racism, Islamophobia, curtailing freedoms through security measures, duplicitous foreign policies and military intervention must be completely and comprehensively addressed. In addition any disclosure which attempts to apportion blame by association or sensationalises violence to stigmatise a certain sector of society serves to undermine community harmony and safety.” I mean…

TREASURER:

There is no justification for these horrendous terrorist attacks, I do note the Grand Mufti actually does call it a terrorist event and does call it terrorism in that…

HADLEY:

Doesn’t call it Islamic terrorism.

TREASURER:

He calls it terrorism but putting it beyond that, there is no justification for these things. Now, you and I both agree because we have spoken about it on this programme that yes you have got to have lots of other early intervention measures and you have got to do all of that but that is not at the absence of the strong law enforcement and other important things that need to be done whether in the Middle East or here back in Australia. So, that statement I think sets out where the Grand Mufti is. What I am heartened by is that there are many other Muslims in Australia today who have said exactly what we would hope they would say and they have done it without any encouragement. They have gone out and said it because that is what they believe as good Australians.

HADLEY:

Well, I have got Muslim, after Muslim on the email saying please distance ourselves from the Grand Mufti in any way, shape or form and I think most decent Australians be they callithumpian Muslims or anything else would distance themselves from that.

TREASURER:

They would and I appreciate them calling in doing that because I think that shows where those of Islamic faith in Australia really are at and that is what you and I both know.

HADLEY:

Is he out of touch?

TREASURER:

I’m not going to get into a commentary on the Grand Mufti.

HADLEY:

I wish you would.

TREASURER:

Well, look, it’s not for me, any more than I would get into a commentary on the Pope – I am not a Catholic, I am not a Muslim so I am not about to go and offer commentary on religious leaders. That’s for people of those faiths to engage…

HADLEY:

But you are a leader.

TREASURER:

Well, yes, but I will answer for the things that I am responsible for and for those in their own faith it is for them to have those own discussions with their own religious leaders.

HADLEY:

One quick thing, because I am getting closer to this than you are – death duties?

TREASURER:

I saw this story.

HADLEY:

I mean I didn’t worry much about death duties…no hang on, 25 years ago I didn’t give a bugger about death duties. When it was abolished 40 years ago I cared even less – I was 21. I am now getting closer to it and I speak on behalf of my four children.

TREASURER:

This is one of the absurd reports I have seen. The Prime Minister and I made it really clear – we are not ruling things in or ruling out. If someone said to me are you going to tax space travel, well I would give the same response but I don’t think anyone would seriously think I was about to do that.

HADLEY:

Ok, can I remind the Prime Minister, he was born in the same year as me. He is closer to God than the rest of us along with me. He needs to remember too and he has got a lot more to be claimed than I have.

TREASURER:

Well, I think you and he are probably of a similar mind on these things. Look, what we are looking to do is have a better tax system – not a bigger tax system – a better tax system that actually helps people get ahead who are actually being held back. Now, they are the rules, they are the principles – that is what we are trying to achieve. I think that should give people a lot of comfort.

HADLEY:

You have brought great comfort to me by saying on this matter that the Prime Minister and myself are of one mind because if we are of one mind we won’t be having death duties in our lifetime – we will leave it when you get to 61 and you can put it on yourself.

TREASURER:

Well, I think I have made enough comment on that to give people enough assurance. Look, it is just part of that reporting that some of the media I think are still struggling with. We are not ruling things in or ruling things out. That doesn’t mean…

HADLEY:

Let me translate for the Treasurer. If he is going to do something he will tell you about it, if he is not going to do it he will say “I am not ruling it in or out.” Ok, that the Treasurer’s translation – alright?

TREASURER:

Well, I won’t be verballed on that either, Ray.

HADLEY:

No, I try to verbal you all the time without much success. Thanks for your time.

TREASURER:

Thanks a lot, Ray.