30 November 2015
Transcript - #2015059, 2015

Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

SUBJECTS: Prime Minister; Bill Shorten; Paris Climate Conference; Bill Shorten and Labor’s job crunching, economy munching carbon tax on steroids; MYEFO; religion; child care

RAY HADLEY:

Scott Morrison, the Treasurer, is on the line.

TREASURER:

G’day, Ray.

HADLEY:

Now, we had a rather feisty interview about all of this.

TREASURER:

It was an animated discussion.

HADLEY:

Where I got into trouble for wanting you to swear on a Bible. I think I went through any role you may have played in February of that year.

TREASURER:

I think we covered all that off, yeah.

HADLEY:

I thought we had covered it but now I pick up the paper and it is a five part series. Now, look, you and I reached an impasse over all of this. We didn’t go any further with it. Our relationship continues. You had one view, I had a different view. Like I say I feel like Bill Murray getting up in the storm…

TREASURER:

What was the name of that?

HADLEY:

Punxsutawney or something.

TREASURER:

Yeah, yeah Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog.

HADLEY:

Yeah, Groundhog Day and I am thinking I have done all of this before. So, let me say that anyone who says, or there is an email, ‘are you going to cross examine’? No, I won’t because I have already done it. He has denied it. He said I had discussions at the time with the Minister, being Malcolm Turnbull, private conversations. I voted for, and correct me if I am wrong through any of this, I voted for the Prime Minister in that first challenge. That is correct, is it not?

TREASURER:

Yeah, we’re all good.

HADLEY:

Yeah, ok, so nothing different yet and obviously you haven’t revealed to me or anyone else which way you voted in the other one. You have ended up as Treasurer so we gleam that something must have happened but anyway it is old news and I won’t be cross examining under anyone’s taunt the Treasurer today because I don’t want an ulcer to have a fight with him again. We have been through all of this.

TREASURER:

Look, all of these things have been held over, Ray, it is old news. Sam Maiden wrote a piece about the same conversation. I mean, anyway, it is coming up to Christmas, people are trying to get people to buy newspapers and that is what happens.

HADLEY:

Ok. There is one story that has just come to my attention, the Opposition Leader has gone to Paris, I am told, and the tip I have got is he has been to visit troops on the ground in the Middle East. Are you aware of that?

TREASURER:

No, I am not.

HADLEY:

Well, that is what they have told me. The point that has been made to me out of Canberra, an informed source, is that he got there and visited troops before the Prime Minister got there and they thought maybe the Prime Minister might have dropped in and seen troops on the way to Paris as opposed to the Opposition Leader.

TREASURER:

Well, I couldn’t tell you. I know that the PM had the CHOGM meeting as well and that was just coming off the back of last week in Parliament. There is only 24 hours in a day and then the Prime Minister has to get back here also for the balance of the week of Parliament. He is over there now at the conference and he is taking forward the position that the Government had agreed many, many months ago actually before he became Prime Minister. There is no change to that position in any shape or form.

HADLEY:

But you understand that the community are nervous, and I am glad you clarified that the decision was taken under Mr Abbott and not Mr Turnbull, the process at the moment stays the same, because people are terrified he is going to get there and go off on a tangent.

TREASURER:

No, not going to happen. I spoke to him this morning, actually, and there is no change to the policy that had been previously agreed. We have got a commitment of 26 to 28 per cent, which is, I think, a common sense position to take, it is not at the front of the pack, it is not at the bottom of the pack and that is our position. What is concerning is that the Labor Party have a position of 45 per cent, which will cost the economy some $600 billion over 15 years. You would need more than double the carbon tax that they were talking about previously to go anywhere remotely to achieve that. It is an economy mugging initiative and it just defies belief. I mean they are out there with the pixies.

HADLEY:

There is a story today by Andrew Bolt in the Telegraph outing the Opposition Leader about all of this and suggesting that even though he is saying 45 per cent by 2030 he is not really saying that. He is not saying we will achieve that, he made that promise or pledge but he promised consultation to try to achieve that.

TREASURER:

Well, I think what we know is that if they were ever to get control of the Treasury benches again they would ramp these targets up, it would have an economy mugging effect on jobs, on our growth and we are facing right now, Ray, some pretty serious headwinds on the growth front. I mean the global economy is volatile, we know that the commodity prices continue to come off, there are changes happening in China and Australians know all of that. What they know that we need to do is focus on everything that can drive growth and jobs and that is what we are doing.

HADLEY:

Just on China, you are due to hand down your mid-year Budget review coming up to Christmas. Deloitte Access, the economic advisory group, has released an assessment. They say that the federal Budget will be $38 billion worse off over the next four years, not because of anything you have done, because of slowdowns in China.

TREASURER:

Well, that and commodity prices are their major findings. Now, our formal figures will come out next month. We have got the National Accounts coming out this week and we have got to wait for that data to come in before we do the last calculation of all the parameters. Again, it just highlights that you have got to grow the economy to fix the Budget, you have got to continue to control expenditure to fix the Budget and Access makes the very real point that we still have measures tied up in the Senate, including savings Labor proposed, that are necessary to ensure that we get the Budget in the best possible position. Now, if we just kept spending the way that Labor was in 12/13 the Budget today would be almost $80 billion worse off than it is today. So, a big part of this job is just keeping the downward pressure on rising costs. He also highlights the issues of the NDIS down out in a few more years’ time and these are very real issues. We want to deliver absolutely on the NDIS but we can’t have fantasy politics suggesting that it doesn’t cost anything and the money falls from the sky. You have got to find the savings and you have got to find the improvements in the Budget to make sure you can deliver on all of these commitments.

HADLEY:

Now, just on an issue and I will lead into Josh Frydenberg’s comments in a moment from Sky News yesterday but you can help me here. I have dealt with various state and federal treasurers over the years. The current Premier in New South Wales was the Treasurer, I used to speak to Michael Costa all the time, when he became Treasurer he was no longer accessible to me. Now, the sort of comments that have been passed by Josh Frydenberg, the Resources Minister, would be what I would normally expect to come from you. And I am not being provocative, I am asking a question. When you become Treasurer, in any government – be it federal or any if the state governments – is it sort of customary that your former attack dog mentality – no, I ‘m serious…

TREASURER:

I heard there was a bit of commentary on this last Monday when I was off air.

HADLEY:

Well, I am being quite serious. Well, people started writing to me and emailing and I sensed a bit of a change. I mean, I used to say to Tony Abbott, mate, get off the chain – get to these people and he said, no, there is a certain dignity attached to being the Prime Minister and while I was Opposition Leader I could say certain things and do certain things but being the Prime Minister I can’t. Does the same apply to Treasurer? Because I have sensed a bit of a change. You would normally be saying what Josh Frydenberg said yesterday and you are not saying it anymore.

TREASURER:

Well, Ray, let me just say this, on the issue of Islam I think I have been very consistent on this issue over a long time. I was the one who brought Jamal Rifi into your studio some time ago. I have always been pretty open about these issues. I have always known that the best thing the Government, and we can’t be naïve about these issues but at the same time there is a very practical consideration here and that is that we need to work closely with the community to ensure that we have the best advantages for our security agencies and others to ensure that we prevent the most horrible of incidents. Now, when you are Treasurer you focus on issues around the economy, it is really not your role to be…

HADLEY:

A more senior position than you used to be.

TREASURER:

This is true and that is a great privilege and responsibility but equally there are other colleagues who will make comments on these things. I agree with Josh that, I mean, I said it on radio that the Mufti, I think, let down his own people but let’s remember that the Mufti is, the Grand Mufti doesn’t really represent all of Islam in Australia.

HADLEY:

Well, he is elected by the Islamic Council and I have no great understanding of all the different divisions of Islam but I get emails from a whole bunch of people and calls on air saying this bloke doesn’t represent me. I didn’t vote for him.

TREASURER:

That’s right.

HADLEY:

He doesn’t represent my particular part of Islam.

TREASURER:

Particularly the Shia groups as well. So, I mean, the way they are structured and this is, I think, partly the point that Josh is making and also Andrew Hastie, they are not structured the same way as a Christian church is or the church that I go to is or something like that. They have a very different system. I think one of the things that happens to religions over time in Australia is they become more Australian and when they become more Australian, and by that I mean the cultural values of Australia sort of determine a lot more of their local practices. That happened with the Catholics, it happened with the Anglicans, it happened with the Pentecostals, it happened with the Jewish faith – it happens over time and a lot of the cultural things that are attached to a religion that were part of things in the Middle East, they sort of drift off after a while. While Islam is Islam there is also, I mean Islam isn’t the same in Malaysia and Indonesia as it is in the Middle East and I think that makes the point. We have had the leaders of both of those countries, as well as the leader of Turkey, come out very strongly denouncing what has happened and showing a lot of strength around these issues. So, I think we sort of take it in perspective but look I appreciate you making the point, Ray. As Treasurer I am focussed on growth and jobs. That is what I am really focussed on. The Government itself is absolutely focussed on the issues of national security. There have been no changes to the arrangements that we have had. If anything we continue to strengthen them. We also know that we can’t just tar a whole community with the one brush of those who are really, I think, putting Australia at risk. We are very focussed on them and we don’t make any excuses around them and we are not naïve about what they are up to and you have heard me talk about Hizb–ut Tahrir before and the Government will continue to take a very strong hand on these things.

HADLEY:

Well, to be fair, from the Christian side of the ledger, while Islam has the Grand Mufti your side of religion has got Rod Bower.

TREASURER:

We have got many people involved in our...

HADLEY:

You know him, don’t you?

TREASURER:

I don’t know him actually.

HADLEY:

He is a bloke from the Central Coast who is very provocative. I will send some literature on him and you can understand.

TREASURER:

I don’t know him. See my church is quite autonomous. I go to a church in Sutherland and we run our own show.

HADLEY:

I know that but what I am trying to say is he comes from the Christian side of things, as you do, and he is as mad as a meat axe, in my opinion. I have to say my opinion or he might sue me. Even though I think he is as mad as a meat axe.

TREASURER:

Well, it takes all sorts doesn’t it, Ray.

HADLEY:

When you get off air google Rod Bower and you will see exactly what I am talking about.

TREASURER:

Fair enough.

HADLEY:

Ok, the final thing relates to a story in the Courier Mail today and you may not have come across it but it is very concerning – anti-vaxxers they call it.

TREASURER:

Oh yes.

HADLEY:

And they are going underground setting up black market child care – a new dangerous trend that has shocked health authorities. Now, the Federal Health Minister is concerned about it. These people are quite mad.

TREASURER:

Look, what they are proposing to do, as best as I can understand it, is illegal in New South Wales if they try to do it there. It should be illegal in Queensland I would hope. They are not getting any Government money – I can assure you of that. So, they might want to go off and do their own thing but the rules are there and I am pleased to see other states picking up what New South Wales did and taking the lead on this and I think it is common sense and the Government has certainly taken the action that we should have taken. Look, if you want to go to a child care centre and put your child in there the herd vaccination issue is a very serious one because there are some people in our community who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons and they rely on the vaccination of all the rest of us to keep them healthy. I think you have got to take that mindset and we certainly have. There are a few changes that have been introduced to the child care package I should mention.

HADLEY:

Please do.

TREASURER:

One of the reasons why that had to be changed, in consultations with the Senate and the Opposition, is we have had to put a bit more money in for grandparents and single parents so that means we make sure our packages wash their face financially, that we have had to make adjustments at the other end for those on very high incomes that the subsidies will taper off at incomes over $250,000 down from $300,000.

HADLEY:

Fair enough.

TREASURER:

So, that is really what it is about. The bottom line is we want families to be able to access more affordable child care so they can get to work.

HADLEY:

Ok, talk next week. Thanks for your time.

TREASURER:

Thanks, Ray.