10 May 2017
Transcript - #2017088, 2017

Interview with Jon Faine, ABC774

SUBJECTS: Budget 2017

JON FAINE:

Scott Morrison is the Treasurer in Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition Federal Government, and joins me from Parliament House from our studios there. Mr Morrison, good morning to you.

TREASURER:

Good morning, Jon.

FAINE:

A $16 billion selloff yesterday of bank shares on what would seem to be a leak of market sensitive information from your Budget.

FAINE:

Are you going to order an inquiry?

TREASURER:

I don’t know if that’s actually the case at all, Jon. I announced that measure last night…

FAINE:

No, we don’t know, that’s why we need an inquiry…

TREASURER:

No, I don’t think so…

FAINE:

…On $16 million selloff on a rumour of a bank tax – a leak from your Budget.

TREASURER:

There are rumours and speculation that appear in the press before every Budget. The banks were advised of that announcement as we went into the Budget speech, and that was the process that was followed, and this is a fair tax on the banks…

FAINE:

Clearly, the market heard it, first Minister. This is insider trading…

TREASURER:

No, that’s not true. That’s a ridiculous suggestion, that’s not the case…

FAINE:

…On a leak from your Budget, $16 billion selloff yesterday before the Budget.

TREASURER:

Jon, media speculate on all things in the Budget. There was unconfirmed speculation on all of those things. They often get it wrong…

FAINE:

The market hears rumours all the time. $16 billion of a selloff, that’s more than a rumour, Treasurer. This is insider trading on a leak from your Budget.

TREASURER:

No, I don’t accept that Jon.

FAINE:

Will you order an investigation?

TREASURER:

Jon, I don’t accept what you’re putting forward.

FAINE:

You won’t even have an inquiry?

TREASURER:

Jon, I don’t accept what you’re putting forward. We announced it in the Budget last night. It’s a fair measure to make sure that banks pay their fair share in returning the Budget to balance. That’s what we’re doing and I think that’s the right approach. On top of that, when it comes to the banks, we’re ensuring that senior executives are accountable, that there is an affordable way for people to access the complaints mechanism, which puts binding outcomes on the banks including compensation.

FAINE:

All of which is good policy. I’m asking you about a completely different issue Minister.

TREASURER:

No, Jon, honestly, I think you’re being distracted by media rumours. What I think your listeners want to know…

FAINE:

No, I’m not distracted by anything and they’re not rumours…

TREASURER:

You’re being very distracted, Jon. I would like to talk to your listeners about how the Budget is actually supporting reducing the cost pressures on their cost of living – I would think you would want to…

FAINE:

A leak from your Budget of market sensitive information.

TREASURER:

No Jon, you’re being sensational mate. Save that for the tabloids.

FAINE:

It demands investigation, you won’t order it?

TREASURER:

No, Jon, you haven’t even made the case that this has even occurred. So, I’m focused on delivering the Budget and ensuring that Australians have the support for Medicare, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the increase in funding support for people who slept rough last night. That’s where my focus is, I’m not going to chase rabbits down holes because someone wants to speculate about it on a radio program.

FAINE:

Alright, we’ll see if others do pick up where we leave off. To move to other things, to salary sacrifice for first home buyers to put a deposit together is a great initiative, but it will take years before it makes any impact on the market. What happens in the mean time?

TREASURER:

What we’re doing is we’re helping people who are saving for their first home, and they’ll be able to get there 30 per cent faster because of the measure we’ve put in place.

FAINE:

It will still take years for them to get a deposit together…

TREASURER:

Well it takes time to save money. We’re not giving handouts for people to buy homes. What we’re doing is we’re helping them accelerate their savings but at the same time…

FAINE:

So, in the meantime, nothing?

TREASURER:

No, in the meantime in Melbourne itself we’re releasing the Commonwealth land at Maribyrnong, that’ll support 6,000 new homes are to be built in Melbourne, we’re building the duplication of the Waurn Ponds to Geelong rail line which means that Geelong and affordable housing in Geelong will be better connected to the major city of Melbourne. On top of that, we’re incentivising the State Government in Victoria to free up their planning and zoning controls and build more homes, we’ve got tax incentives for people to build more affordable housing, and as I’ve said, we’ve got $375 million in the Budget which makes the homelessness funding, which is so important for those who are either homeless or at risk of being homeless, particularly for domestic violence reasons or young people, that is making that funding permanent. So, Jon, this is the most comprehensive integrated package from the Federal Government to deliver on the issue of easing the cost pressures on rising housing costs that we’ve seen in a very long time.

FAINE:

The new big-hearted Scott Morrison, I think you used the phrase multiple times in interviews last night and again this morning and it’s a very welcome one, a big hearted Scott Morrison though is introducing measures that could lead to a welfare underclass. Drug testing and forcing people into rehab positions that don’t exist means you’ll have more people without the safety net and an underclass.

TREASURER:

Well I don’t accept that at all, Jon. I mean people will still have access to the welfare safety net, but it’s a good idea to look at new ways of ensuring that people who are under the burden of alcohol or drug dependency and drug abuse to actually have a way of intervening in that situation and helping them get off it so they can get into work. Now the….

FAINE:

The rehab positions just don’t exist. There are already months of delay to get into a rehab.

TREASURER:

We’ve increased the funding in previous Budgets on this Jon. But this is a small trial in a few locations to see if it works. I mean, what’s wrong with trying things, Jon, to see if they work?

FAINE:

Nothing at all, nothing at all.

TREASURER:

That’s what we’re doing.

FAINE:

My concern is that if you force people into rehab they’re in a queue. The spots aren’t there, the states can’t keep up with the demand and you create the people who have no choice but to live on the streets.

TREASURER:

Well, this is why we are doing it as a small trial, in the same way we trialled the cashless debit card in key remote communities and regional communities which has proved to be enormously successful. When we started that trial people made the same sort of arguments against us, Jon, and now we’re expanding that program because we did it on a small scale, worked out what the bugs are with the scheme, and to make sure that it could be ready for broader application. Now, I think it’s a fair enough thing to try new things in this area, and that’s what we’re doing, and if it works we’ll keep doing it, and if it doesn’t work, we won’t.

FAINE:

Victoria’s still and already again this morning complaining that they’re not getting their share of infrastructure, and what if they don’t want to sell their 29 per cent share in the Snowy Mountains Scheme?

TREASURER:

Well, they don’t have to, but we have had positive indications from Victoria. All of this is obviously subject to the discussions that we had, but to free up the capital they’ve got in the Snowy Hydro to spend on infrastructure in Victoria I think provides them with a real opportunity. But I’ve already mentioned the Geelong to Waurn Ponds line this morning, but in addition to that it’s over a $1 billion in infrastructure funding for Victoria in this Budget. That comes on top of the $1.5 billion that I talked about at last year’s Budget. We’re still committed to the East-West Link if there’s a government in Victoria that wishes to build it. The Princes Highway East, the Tullamarine Freeway widening this is all continuing with funding in this Budget, and for other major projects we have a $10 billion National Rail Fund which can fund projects which are proven up and Tullamarine rail link is one we’ve given funding support for to prove up a case.

FAINE:

Did Tony Abbott congratulate you on your Budget?

TREASURER:

He was in the Party Room last night with all the other colleagues. I didn’t get around to…

FAINE:

Well, his hands were in his pockets apparently, not clapping.

TREASURER:

Look, I wasn’t watching. This Budget isn’t about Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison, Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten, Chris Bowen. It’s not about us; it’s about the people who are listening to this program, making big sacrifices for their own future, and we’re backing them in by supporting their services, reducing the costs of living pressures on them, balancing the Budget over the next four years. In just a years’ time, Jon, we will no longer be borrowing money to pay for everyday expenditure. That’ll be met out of the revenues that we’re bringing in, and to do that after having to reverse $13.5 billion, to take out $13.5 billion from the Budget of savings measures the Senate didn’t support and still end up on balance on conservative forecasts, that says good financial management which is what you always get from a Coalition Government.

FAINE:

And, finally, my time is nearly up, but I’ll squeeze in one more if I may?

TREASURER:

Sure.

FAINE:

The inland rail, not just a white elephant? Could even be a woolly mammoth, could it not? $20 billion or more, and really no one knows whether it’s going to pay for itself, ever?

TREASURER:

Well, Jon, it’s very cynical if I could say so.

FAINE:

Sceptical, not cynical.

TREASURER:

Well I’d say it’s cynical, Jon. It’s over $8 billion we’re investing in what is a massive rail project, creating tens of thousands of jobs, linking Melbourne to Brisbane, dealing with a national freight task, improving regions all along that route. We’re investing in regional Australia, Jon. That’s what’s going to drive the growth to support the jobs and better paying jobs that Australians need, that give them the income to do the things that they need to do. So, we’re a Government that is going to invest fairly in these projects, on the right projects, which grow our economy, and that’s why I’m increasingly confident about our economy going forward. It’s been pretty tough for a long time…

FAINE:

Yes.

TREASURER:

We’re moving towards the end of that tough period, given what we see in the global economy and we’re positioning the country well for it.

FAINE:

Like planes stacked up waiting to land, my slot has well and truly been used. Scott Morrison, thank you very much. You’ve been generous with your time this morning.

TREASURER:

Thanks, Jon. See you next time I’m in Melbourne.