21 November 2016
Transcript - #2016164, 2016

Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

SUBJECTS: Gallbladder surgery; Union action costing the construction industry; Labor’s failed border protection policies; Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook; Deloitte Access Economics Budget Monitor; Turnbull Government’s Enterprise Tax Plan to drive economic growth, jobs and wages; Labor’s refusal to back tax relief for Australian businesses.

RAY HADLEY:

Treasurer Scott Morrison has returned to work after gallbladder surgery and is in our Canberra studio. Treasurer good morning.

TREASURER:

G’day Ray.

HADLEY:

Now let’s get rid of the important stuff before we get into the other important stuff. You and I have a common bond now.

TREASURER:

We do.

HADLEY:

We are both less a gallbladder. I know, and I’m not talking specifically about you, but generally about blokes, we’re wimps. When the pain struck you initially, did you think you were having a heart attack?

TREASURER:

No, I had this problem five years ago. At that time I did. It was the back end of question time actually, when I could feel it start coming on and then I was introducing some superannuation Bills later that day it really started to hit me so I knew I wouldn’t be heading home for a while.

HADLEY:

I remember being, and this was ten years ago, in the foetal position early one morning. The doctor said to me if it comes on again Buscopan will relieve it temporarily. But my surgeon at the time Arthur Richardson said to me, after the second attack, he said look, I won’t even tell you what to do after a third one, next time you have one, ring me at home and I’ll meet you at the hospital and we’ll get it done.

TREASURER:

I had a mild attacked the week before, so to all the doctors and nurses and all the staff at both Sutherland and Canberra hospitals, who took very good care of me over the last few weeks, and of course my own dear Jenny, and my two other little nurses over the past week they also took good care of me.

HADLEY:

Are you feeling well now?

TREASURER:

Yeah I’m back on my feet, back in question time today, and getting on with the job. There was a lot done last week, I was just doing it from home.

RAY HADLEY:

I’ll leave you with one thought before we move onto other serious issues. There was this wonderful nurse after I went into get the surgery done, and she said it’s painful love isn’t it? I said it’s very painful. And I’m thinking I’m a wimp, here am I talking to a woman who endures much more pain. She said, well I’ve had four kids, she said I’ve also had my gallbladder out. She said the gallbladder pain was worse than childbirth. That made me feel a whole lot better. I don’t know whether she was just saying that to make me feel better, but it made me feel better about being a wimp.

TREASURER:

It’s pretty nasty, but I remember Josie I think was the nurse on that night when I had it, she took very good care of me down there in Canberra. And thanks also to the listeners too Ray, I’ve had some nice messages from your listeners so I appreciate that as well.

HADLEY:

You’ve seen the table in The Australian this morning, they’re tipping out of these six pieces of legislation what’s likely to happen to four of them. They most important one, and there’s a story on the front page of The Australian from Michaelia Cash is the ABCC. Do you think you’ll get that across the line?

TREASURER:

We’re sitting over the next fortnight and that’s the period of time in which we’d hope to see those Bills passed, and I know Michaelia Cash is working very carefully with the cross benchers. It’s a delicate process and I think we’re making progress, but it’s important we get this done because, as that story indicates, already $100 billion worth of projects are having a hand break placed on them by the CFMEU. Now that costs Australian taxpayers, it costs investment. We’re talking about hospital developments, we’re talking about transport projects and railways and important resources projects. The world economy is tough, it’s in a global funk, and what we need to do is do everything we can to improve how competitive we are, and we can’t go around wasting money by having laws which yield to the CFMEU, which is what Bill Shorten’s happy to continue to sign up to. It’s weak, and it hurts our economy, and it punishes taxpayers.

HADLEY:

It gets all the oxygen and airspace, the ABCC, what about this Registered Organisations Bill? Why is it so important in concert with that?

TREASURER:

I’m glad you asked, because the Registered Organisations Bill, what it basically does is ensures that if you’re responsible for running a union, then you will have all the same responsibilities and liabilities that a company director has for running a company. Now that’s fair. That’s how it should be. Why the unions would want to hold themselves to a lower standard of governance than what company directors have to withstand is beyond me. I suppose if you look at the HSU and Craig Thomson and all of those sorts of things you might have a good indication of why they wouldn’t want to measure up to the same sorts of accountabilities. It’s important that the rule of law applies on building sites and it’s important that we have good governance, good corporate governance of all registered organisations. It doesn’t just apply to unions, it applies to other organisations as well. But unions, we know, have done some pretty sickening things to their members with how they’ve managed their money, and failed to observe proper governance, and why Bill Shorten isn’t taking the lead on cleaning up the union movement instead of protecting them against these sorts of governance reforms tells you a lot about how weak Bill Shorten is when it comes to standing up to unions.

HADLEY:

Have you caught up with the story, probably not I guess, in the Courier Mail where we’ve had this mining industry just sit there and looking, waiting for people to do something, Adani and others. The Government you’d think is dependent on this to kick-start the economy up there…

TREASURER:

True.

HADLEY:

But they fear objections to mining projects could turn to blockades and projects get scrapped [inaudible] the ability to appeal. The appeals process has stalled $30 billion of mining projects, but they’ve refused to bend to the demands to scrap the system which allows activists. Now, we’ve had the federal MP for Dawson, George Christensen call for the Government to legislate to stop all of this. I mean the money is coming in from left wing organisations in the United States of America funding all these challenges, all the lawyers doing it pro bono. And just when you though we’re getting the right noise from Annastacia Palaszczuk look we need to move on from this and we need to actually have an appeal process but once it’s over, it’s over.

TREASURER:

Yeah when it’s done, it’s done. I don’t know why these activists from the Labor Party and others think that we have spare room in our economy to accommodate what is effectively indulgences here, and frustrating massive projects which are going to deliver really important jobs, and increased hours and earnings to all those people up in North Queensland, and people are literally frustrating that and have been frustrating it for years. There’s been a lot of very important environmental mitigation work that has gone into all the approvals provided by the Federal Government and others, you need to enable them to just get on with this because we can’t afford for this to continue. These guys have just got to stop this nonsense and so our economy can move forward in what are tough times. We don’t have the luxury of indulging this sort of nonsense.

HADLEY:

Back to your old portfolio. The Prime Minister now talking to the Malaysians about them maybe taking these people that were intended to go to the US a deal struck with President Obama. Would that suggest that you as a Government are a bit concerned that the incoming president might not honour a deal that was done with the outgoing president?

TREASURER:

No, no. Look I’ll let others comment on this other than to say we’ve always been seeking resettlement opportunities for those who have been found to be refugees on Nauru and on Manus. The announcement we’ve made with the US arrangement is part of that, let’s just not forget one thing though Ray, because this is another lie of the Labor Party, under the Malaysia agreement they proposed they weren’t resettling people who were found to be refugees. That wasn’t the deal at all. What they were going to do is send 800 people after 50,000 had arrived to Malaysia, only in an arrangement that was struck down by the High Court on the basis that there was no guarantee about how people would be processed or how their rights and other things would be protected. It was a bad deal on every front.

HADLEY:

We were meant to take 4000 from them is that right?

TREASURER:

Yeah it was 800 for 4000.

HADLEY:

We gave them 800, we take 4000 and spend a bucket full of money on it…

TREASURER:

It was a bad deal all around when you look at it, and the misrepresentation today to equate what we have done, which is those who have been found to be refugees. If they haven’t been found to be refugees they’re not going to the United States. They’re not going anywhere unless they go home, that’s what our policy is. To equate that with a deal which was a stop gap because they just simply refused to do turn backs, that’s what the Malaysia thing was about, they refused to do turn backs, because they didn’t think it would work, or they didn’t have the stomach for it. Now we proved them wrong on that. This is a content source of embarrassment for the Labor Party, that they said turn backs couldn’t be done, we believed they could, we made them work, we made them work safely as well, and it had the desired result. Labor should just frankly learn the lesson and support the Government on border protection.

HADLEY:

Ok, back to your proper job. You update the Budget position next month, the signs point to the Budget deficit worsening. Any hope of a return to surplus as forecast by 20-21?

TREASURER:

The projection is that it will return in 20-21. The mid-year statement that comes out in December each year, that will be handed down on December 19. That will also have the advantage of the September quarter National Accounts which the figures from Access today, sorry not Access I should say Deloitte. That’s Chris Richardson’s old firm. Those figures don’t have the advantage of that and some other data will come in December so we’ll make a further assessment about that in December Ray but what is does is highlight some important things. First of all, he is right to suggest that when people’s wages aren’t growing or they’re not getting the extra hours that they would like, or that companies aren’t profiting more and their profits are down, then Government revenues will be flatter. That is true. That isn’t made up for by movements in the iron ore price or the coal price, some of these things can be quite temporary. What we have to do is ensure that we’re helping Australians to earn more, get more hours, and companies to earn more. The way you do that is not by taxing them more. Labor is out there today saying, this shows you can’t go ahead and give these companies with $2.5 million turnover tax cuts. Actually, it says that’s exactly what we’ve got to do, so those businesses have more headroom to ensure they can give more hours to their staff or invest more in their business, or be able to earn more themselves, which all lifts revenue at the end of the day. So we have a fundamental disagreement with Labor on this. The other points he made, is that if you really want to be fair when it comes to the Budget there’s some $19 billion of savings that Labor still refuse to pass. If they want to help with the Budget, pass those savings. That’s what the ratings agencies are saying, that’s what Deloitte has said today, that’s how you get the Budget back into balance. They complain about helping small business to give people more work, but at the same time, refuse to get the welfare system under control when we’ve got $19 billion of savings that they just refuse to pass.

HADLEY:

Just back to where we started almost. Would you think that you’d finish 2016 in really good shape if you get four of the six pieces of legislation through the upper house by the time you finish up in a fortnight?

TREASURER:

That would be a great outcome but hopefully we can do better Ray. Already we’ve been able to pass tax cuts for middle income earners, we’ve been able to pass the measures on $6.3 billion worth of savings, some $11 billion in total in Budget improvement measures have already been passed. This week we’ve still got to continue negotiations on the backpacker arrangement, the superannuation Bills will also be considered by the end of the fortnight. So, a lot has got done over the last six months, there’s a lot more to be done, particularly as we move into the end of the year, but then working to next year’s Budget. So we’re making a lot of progress in a difficult environment in the parliament, but that’s the parliament that’s elected, and if it’s raining or it’s dry or it’s windy on the pitch, whichever, you’ve got to play to the conditions and they’re the conditions we’re playing to.

HADLEY:

OK, we’ll talk next week thanks for your time. Good to have you back.

TREASURER:

Thanks Ray.