5 September 2016
Transcript - #2016116, 2016

Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

SUBJECTS: Parliamentary sitting week; Senator Dastyari; Cronulla Sharks; foreign investment; Queensland Nickel; negative gearing.

RAY HADLEY:

Treasurer, good morning.

TREASURER:

G’day Ray.

HADLEY:

Now, I have been looking forward to this. You know how you just sometimes look forward to things.

TREASURER:

I know you look forward to seeing me every week.

HADLEY:

No, no, no, no, no – we had a disagreement and things just work out sometime so perfectly well for us. You know for you or for me or for both of us individually.

TREASURER:

Ok.

HADLEY:

So, we had the blue about how few parliamentary sitting days there are between now and Christmas and you know you got a bit fiery and I fired back about that some of your colleagues aren’t perhaps as committed to the cause as you, or the Prime Minister or others from the opposition might be. Now, wasn’t my point to a certain extent vindicated by the haste that some of your colleagues to have an extra-long weekend escaping out of Canberra on Thursday afternoon?

TREASURER:

Well, there are just no excuses for it Ray. I mean it was incredibly disappointing, you play for the full 80 minutes and if it goes into extra time you keep playing and a number of them have made their comments since then. It was very disappointing but at the end of the day what Labor did on that day was use a stunt to promote a stunt. They called it clever parliamentary tactics, they are all very full of themselves now and think that that means that all things change. No, what doesn’t change is that they remain the opposition, the Government remains the Government and the government will continue on and get on and do the things we need to be doing. In that same week I introduced new laws to change the taxes for those who are going over $80,000. The average ordinary wage at the moment, this year, will go over $80,000 and we think it is wrong that someone moving into the second top tax bracket paying that wage would move into that second top tax bracket and we made that change this week as we did to introduce laws to cut taxes for small business. So, that is the real business of Parliament.

HADLEY:

My listeners were frustrated because they think you should have been ripping into and tearing, as a government, into Sam Dastyari, and there is more drama for Sam today about bottles of grange and a whole range of things but the focus of what your attack should have been was taken off you. In other words you should have been on the front foot over that but for the actions of a few of your colleagues who thought it was more important to jump on a plane, get in a car and get out of the place. Your supporters are angry that the opportunity to skewer Sam was taken from you.

TREASURER:

Oh, look, I’ll admit that is fair criticism but that doesn’t let Sam off the hook either. More importantly, Ray, it doesn’t let Bill Shorten off the hook. Now, the question for Bill Shorten is, I mean we had a Premier who stood down from being Premier in this state over a bottle of grange. Now, I understand that Bill Shorten has counselled Sam Dastyari in same way that Kevin Rudd use to say, ‘counsel’ ministers and all of this sort of thing. So, the question for Bill Shorten is, did Sam tell him about the bottles of grange as well? What else is out there with Sam Dastyari. I think Bill Shorten has already failed a test in relation to Sam Dastyari and the question is will he keep failing it. I mean we have had Minister who have stood down for attending openings in China. We have had others who have stood aside while ICAC investigations are pursued and both of those individuals have been completely exonerated. Now, Sam Dastyari, ‘Shanghai Sam’ as I understand he is known on this radio station, is still walking around and Bill Shorten has given him the big, green light. Let’s be clear about this, what Sam did, he didn’t take a donation, he took a payment for someone to pay off his debt. He may as well have just deposited it directly into his ATM. Now, if Bill Shorten thinks that is ok and then he gets up and he starts making all sorts of statements contradictory to party policy on China. well you know, if he thinks that is ok, that is a big test that Bill Shorten is failing right now.

HADLEY:

Just a story you would be quietly interested in as a Sharks supporter. I have just confirmed with the Club that Paul Gallen did wear a wristband, timing is important here, supporting a gravely ill little fella by the name of Kieran.

TREASURER:

Which he does on regular occasions.

HADLEY:

It’s no reference to anyone connected with Andrew Fifita. So, rest assured it was a tribute to a gravely ill little boy and Paul had made a commitment to wear that and just by sheer coincidence his name happens to be Kieran which is unfortunate in the current…

TREASURER:

Well, I am glad you clarified...

HADLEY:

So, Gallen is supporting a brave little boy and we commend him for it. Now, there was a comical moment and I don’t know whether, I sort of was listening to other things then while you were talking. I don’t know whether you said, yes, Ray, you were right last Tuesday or not – did you say that or not?

TREASURER:

Ray, I didn’t get into that…

HADLEY:

…did you say “I’m sorry Ray you were right”….

TREASURER:

…there was no excuse but look I don’t think we will go over what happened last week Ray.

HADLEY:

You are like Fonzie – ‘sorry, sorry Ray’. You may have been right about not me but some of my colleagues.

TREASURER:

I will keep working hard Ray and I know my colleagues will take the lesson of last week…

HADLEY:

Start working hard as of…

TREASURER:

They will take the lessons of last week.

HADLEY:

The comical part was you and people have got to understand that the Treasurer was working and I know it doesn’t sound like work but doing interviews with blokes like me or with the people from Sky News is part of his job. So, anyway, he is on TV, he is in the Canberra studio and all of a sudden his staff are banging on the door. Now, he doesn’t know whether it is a fire, whether there has been some sort of duplicitous act on Parliament House. What is going on? So he says, I am sorry Paul, I am sorry, there are people banging on my door, what’s wrong – and you were very aggrieved by this – then you said, there is a what? A division? And so, you often hear me talking to politicians and we are warned that there could be a division and I might be talking to a federal politician or a state politician and you will hear a bell ring and they say “mate, I have got to go.” And that doesn’t mean they are impolite. They just have to drop the phone and race off. But you were like superman in a phone booth. The only thing you didn’t rip off was your clothes. You were ripping earpieces off, microphones off…

TREASURER:

And thankfully for the viewing public that I didn’t do one of those things.

HADLEY:

No, I thought it was great to see you like that. Sky News, by the way, have got plenty out of it. It has been on for the last few days non-stop.

TREASURER:

And it is quite a run and it literally is like a little broom cupboard.

HADLEY:

How far were you from the broom closet and I will talk to Angelo about that.

TREASURER:

Well, it’s up on the top floor of the Senate side of the building. Now, you can get there in four minutes but you can’t muck about. So, I don’t think I will be in anyone’s starting line-up Ray, based on my run on that one or on any of the number of others that afternoon but I did make those divisions and I was in the building but you have got to get to the division.

HADLEY:

You made the point the Prime Minister made the riot act. Now, I can’t imagine the Prime Minister using the sort of language that I sometimes use with mates in Western Sydney. Did he say, “I am very cross with you fellows for doing what you have done?” Did he say “I am cross with you”?

TREASURER:

Oh, I can assure you they were in no doubt about his very strong views.

HADLEY:

Ok, he is currently in China, and they’re talking about a fair and transparent approach to investment decisions and given you are them man in concert with him that is making these decisions at the end of the day you are the Treasurer. Do you think there is going to be any fall-out from your decision or the Government’s decision in relation to AusGrid in New South Wales?

TREASURER:

No, I don’t and look we make the decisions about who gets to invest in the country. If Australia decides in its national interest through me as its Treasurer that that is not in our national interest, that it was against our national interest as it was in terms of the national security issues, then we will make that decision. But that is for us to make and the Prime Minister is right to say they understand that and frankly if you wanted to do the same thing in China you wouldn’t be allowed to do it. So, I have made a number of these decisions whether it is on Kidman or on AusGrid but equally I have made decisions that allowed that investment which has disturbed others as well. I always seek to get across the facts and ensure that we make the decision that in in the best interests of Australia.

HADLEY:

Well, I can guarantee whatever decision you make in relationship to this matter you are going to be criticised from one side or the other. I will be on one side one day and the other side the other day, depending on what we are talking about. A story on the front page of The Courier Mail today which infuriates tax payers not just in Queensland. We, as a nation, picked up the tab for more than $65 million dollars to pay entitlements of Clive Palmer’s Queensland nickel workers. He has avoided paying one sack.

TREASURER:

For now.

HADLEY:

For now? Well what is for now?

TREASURER:

Well, we appointed a special liquidator at the time and see what was important was that the QNI workers got support…

HADLEY:

Their entitlements.

TREASURER:

and we made sure of that, that we said we will cover that but we will also appoint a special liquidator who will go after the money from the company which is obviously Clive and others and that is exactly what we continue to do and Senator Michaela Cash, Senator Cash who is the Minister responsible put that arrangement in place and good for her for doing so. What we wanted to make sure of Ray was that those workers up there at QNI in Townsville got the support they needed and they got it in record time too. Minister Cash has done a great job in turning around those payments as quickly as possible in a matter of days in some occasions. Well ahead of what the normal processing time is and that is important for families up there in Townsville who are doing it tough and this will be a very hard time for them. The last thing they want is for a Government to say look we will go after the money from Clive Palmer first and when we get it we will pay it to you. No, we will make sure you are sorted out and then we will represent the taxpayer’s interests simultaneously by going after the money from those who should be paying it.

HADLEY:

Look, on another issue here, the Labor party planned changes to negative gearing and it said that that cost them crucial votes. What changes were you planning and did you have a conversation with Peter Dutton or others that you trust within the Party about what you would do.

TREASURER:

We didn’t put forward any changes, Ray, and the Prime Minister made it clear that story wasn’t right and…

HADLEY:

So, you weren’t talked out of any changes because you didn’t make any changes?

TREASURER:

No, we didn’t make any. I have been on the record…

HADLEY:

But were you thinking about making them?

TREASURER:

I have been on the record of being opposed to changes to negative gearing back to the time when I was Social Services Minister for a simple reason, negative gearing gives, a lot of the people would be listening to this program, it gives people on ordinary wages the ability to go and buy an investment property and it is their one chance of pretty significant wealth creation. They do a lot better out of that then they do out of many forms of investment. 80 per cent of people are on relatively modest wages who are doing this. I mean one in five police officers do negative gearing, Ray.

HADLEY:

You’ve made that point…

TREASURER:

And nurses and others and I have said it many times.

HADLEY:

Well, where does the story come from if you are still [inaudible] opposed to it?

TREASURER:

I can’t tell you because it didn’t come from me, Ray. So, that story was never checked with me, it was never checked with the Prime Minister. Look, this sort of scuttlebutt goes around in Canberra all the time and people either choose to take notice of it or not.

HADLEY:

As always, thank you very much for your time. We will talk again next week things permitting.

TREASURER:

Well, yes that is true and I will bring my timesheet for you.

HADLEY:

No, as I say I exclude you from that criticism...

TREASURER:

Thanks Ray.

HADLEY:

But I do accept that there was a half-hearted apology. Thank you very much Treasurer.

TREASURER:

Good on you mate.