4 October 2016
Transcript - #2016143, 2016

Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

SUBJECTS: Cronulla Sharks win NRL Grand Final; Australians detained in Malaysia; Parliamentary inquiry into the banks; clamping down on market manipulation of financial benchmarks; social services portfolio; immigration portfolio.

RAY HADLEY:

Treasurer, good morning.

TREASURER:

G’day Ray.

HADLEY:

Well, a bit husky there Treasurer.

TREASURER:

I was a lot huskier yesterday, I can assure you. It was just a fairy tale weekend. Obviously for the Sharks which is just tremendous but also for the Bulldogs down there in Melbourne as well. It was just great for the community. We had a family day yesterday down at Shark Park and just to see all the kids there it was just really special – really special.

HADLEY:

That’s exactly it. Look, I don’t follow a football team and I haven’t for the 30 years I have been broadcasting but I said before I went to call the game on Sunday night on air that I just had a feeling it was time for Cronulla and I am glad that I was right. I don’t in any way denounce Melbourne – beaten but certainly not vanquished. But I just thought it was a wonderful, wonderful occasion that a team that had never won before finished with a fairy tale end.

TREASURER:

That’s true and to see the past players too over the last week and particularly seeing Matty Johns talking about his dad at the Grand Final lunch there on Friday was just really special. It is going to go on all week. I am sad I am going to be missing some of those celebrations over the course of the week but back to work. Off to see the ratings agencies in New York and deal with the IMF meetings and back into a busy session of Parliament when we get back next week. That will go on. I have to say Lyall Gorman and Damien Keogh and I have mentioned them quite a few times. You have got things right off the field to get them right on and they have done a tremendous job and they deserve a lot of credit as well.

HADLEY:

Have a look at Parramatta to bear that out. Now, to business. Can you confirm that a staffer for Christopher Pyne, Jack Walker, is among nine Australians currently languishing in jail in Malaysia for a bit of hijinks?

TREASURER:

I can’t because I have only seen the same reports that you have seen and I am sure consular support is dealing with those matters and we will wait for that to run its course. There is no further light I can shed on that.

HADLEY:

But it’s a timely reminder. These blokes are between 25 and 28 or 29 and if you go to another place you conform to the method of behaviour they want there. Not how we behave.

TREASURER:

Yeah, their laws, their rules. You are on their grounds so you have got to comply. The consular officials I am sure are applied there, to not just the one individual you mentioned but to the others who are involved and it’s a timely reminder for young people when they travel overseas to know what the laws and rules are and respect them.

RAY HADLEY:

I have been watching Sky News all morning talking about the big bank bosses fronting a parliamentary hearing today. Labor of course crowing they want a Royal Commission and that this isn’t good enough. Obviously you think we will get something out of it but what about change? Just a simple thing that narks me every time it happens and it hasn’t happened for a while in that the interest rates go up, they are always coming down at the moment, they have got better. It takes a few days for it to pass on. A few years ago I remember it taking a week or more. If they go up, instantaneously the big 4 say we can’t absorb this we are increasing them right now. If they come down it takes three, four, five days and then they eventually all pass on the interest rate cut. That is just a simple thing. I just think it looks bad. It is a bad way to conduct business I think.

TREASURER:

This is what I have said about the banks, they have to explain what they do to their customers, to their shareholders, to the Australian public. What will happen this week is they will be having the opportunity to do just that. This isn’t the only thing that is happening. Far more significantly is the increased powers and resources we have given to ASIC to prosecute. One of the issues that came up was the Bank Bill Swap Rate issues. What that is is a rate that is set by the banks which many other interest rates are working off, whether it is potentially mortgage rates or other rates that are out there. ASIC kicked this off by prosecuting banks in relation to some activity around that. I have announced today new regulations that will see people mucking around with the Bank Bill Swap Rate potentially facing criminal penalties. That is in response to a request I made from the Council of Financial Regulators last November and they have come back and recommended this. So we are getting on with that. So, whether it is that, moving towards a new tribunal so people can get an even playing field for them to be able to have their cases heard, all of this is important. A Royal Commission doesn’t produce that. It will be two years, all the work we are doing to strengthen the financial system which is what you need if a storm really does hit, that will just delay all that work. I understand why people feel they might want one but you have to look at what is practically going to help people and strengthen the system. That is what we are getting on with and Bill Shorten is just playing politics with this. It is too serious an issue to do that with.

HADLEY:

It’s your job to juggle the money we get in and the money we give out. The story on the front page of The Australian today is infuriating – corrupt family day care providers have defrauded taxpayers of more than $1 billion in two years. Now, this is under this Government’s watch. Now, I was very critical of the previous Labor Government before spending our money without any thought or forethought. I am talking about the BER, I am talking about pink batts, I am talking about a whole range of things where they just threw money willy nilly with no checks and balances. We have 15 arrests – 13 facing charges and there are fears stolen money could have been sent to Islamic State and other terror groups. Now, it is no good saying one thing and meaning another. It is one part of a community involved in these rorts bringing the entire community down. It must be expressed that it is infuriating that there are loopholes there. Have they been closed? Could it still happen at the moment? Are we always going to be [inaudible] to cheats?

TREASURER:

We started the clamp down on this two years ago. I introduced when I was Social Services Minister a range of things which has led to blocking off around half a billion dollars’ worth of potential abuses. We’ve conducted over 3,000 various compliance checks. That is around six times what the previous government was going. So, we have been clamping down on this. Simon Birmingham has picked up that work and he has continued it and these were arrangements that were put in place by the previous government, a bit like the HELP debt loans for vocational education which has really blown out. Simon Birmingham is getting on top of that as well. You have got to have constant vigilance on this sort of stuff. It frustrates the Government as it does taxpayers and that is why we are clamping down on it very, very hard.

HADLEY:

I guess when you start talking a billion dollars, you are not talking about someone duding Centrelink for a couple of hundred bucks or a thousand dollars or even $100,000. You are talking about a billion dollars of our money.

TREASURER:

Absolutely. We have support for childcare arrangements so people can juggle two jobs and pay a mortgage and deal with the cost of living pressures. These family day care arrangements were put in pace to add more flexibility. Then you get people who go and take a loan of them and do the wrong thing and that only mucks it up for everyone else who are trying to use these arrangements legitimately. That is why we are tightening the rules. We are enforcing them. The compliance measures are significantly greater than they used to be and we are catching the crooks.

HADLEY:

Someone has just taken me to task for something I said prior to talking to you. He said you are wrong regarding the extra 12,000 Syrians we are taking. You said they would be minorities and persecuted Christians but in fact the UN is choosing who comes here. That’s not true is it?

TREASURER:

No, it is not true.

HADLEY:

So, where has this urban myth come from?

TREASURER:

I have no idea Ray. People make this stuff up. I don’t know what it is. The arrangements for the 12,000 have never changed. Malcolm Turnbull has continued on exactly the same arrangements that Tony Abbott put in place. I was involved on both sides of administering those arrangements when they were first introduced, working with Peter Dutton. What it is is we focus on the people of the persecuted minorities and they are overwhelmingly Christian. There are other non-Christian minorities there and the reason for that is quite simple - those minorities can never go back to that part of the world – ever. We are offering them permanent resettlement in this country and you offer those places to people who need to be somewhere else forever. There are others who are affected by the conflict of different faiths but when it comes to the Christians and the other persecuted minorities in that part of the world, well, those 12,000 places will be overwhelmingly for them because they are the ones who need them most and that is what this Government is doing.

HADLEY:

Alright, that clears that up for Tony. Now, just in relation to this immigration story again that we dealing with on the front page of The Australian. People are incensed by it. Not your problem but your problem to fix. These people came here on those boats during the time of Rudd-Gillard-Rudd many of them, 5,000, and we are getting closer to 22,000 eventually are deemed not to be refugees, they are economic migrants who will be sent back from whence they came but because we have a fantastic country and a wonderful judicial system in the main we have got the lawyers, either pro-bono or paid for by you and me, lining up to defend these people despite the fact that they are not refugees. Again, I use the word infuriating and Neil who is from Engadine says the problem lies with the migration lawyers who charge massive fees to represent these illegal arrivals with no concern for their own country. We are talking about at least $400 million and maybe a bit more by the time the legal bills come in.

TREASURER:

As you know back when I was Immigration Minister we shut off the access at least the federal support for them for those things and Peter has kept that going and he is doing a wonderful job. The way our system works people can offer their services pro-bono as they will and the court system will take its course. You are right, I remember when we came to government in 2013 there was some 35,000 unresolved cases and now every single child in Australia is out of detention. That is something we are very pleased with as a result and it has been several years now since we have had a successful venture. That is called getting on with the job. We continue to have our critics but I can tell you when the Prime Minister was overseas recently it was other countries coming to us saying how do you guys do it. They are dealing with that problem. Now, we have geography on our side – that is certainly the case…

HADLEY:

So did the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Government have geography on their side.

TREASURER:

They did and they certainly didn’t take advantage of it. We certainly did but it wasn’t an easy thing to do as your listeners know and as you know Ray because you have been supporting us going down that path for many years. That is done now and now we have still got to deal though with the legacy of Labor’s failure. It goes on for years and we said it would and it is.

HADLEY:

Just pretend that the cost – if they do act pro-bono, which means they give their services for free – just pretend you or I or someone like us has a matter before the federal court a matter that we have waited on for years and years and now for the next decade federal courts, I assume, are going to be tied up with these sort of appeals which means they can’t hear other matters relating to other taxpaying citizens.

TREASURER:

Well, that is frustrating and I don’t disagree with that. It is frustrating. Our court system is important and it has its protections for everyone and I will leave those matters to the Attorney-General. I have got treasury things focusing me very heavily these days and getting the Budget back into balance but I can understand why people would feel very frustrated under the circumstances.

HADLEY:

Ok, have a safe trip and we will see you when you get back.

TREASURER:

Thanks Ray and you picked it – 2 points. You picked it.

HADLEY:

I’ve got to [inaudible] something every now and again when it comes to rugby. I finished second last in the tipping competition so I have come with a wet sail.

TREASURER:

Well, you have picked the one that counts mate and to Gals and Flanno and the boys congratulations and the Shire is very, very proud of you.