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Transcript of interview: Radio 2GB Ray Hadley: 13 April 2015



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2GB Ray Hadley, 13 April 2015

E&EO

HADLEY:

I mentioned earlier the major announcement made by you and the Prime Minister over the weekend - vaccinations. You’re closing the loophole that allows parents who refuse to vaccinate their children still claim childcare benefits. The number of conscientious objectors has risen to nearly 40,000. I notice there’s still one loophole there, it’s on religious or medical grounds. Now it says strict religious grounds. How do you quantify that? How does that get tested?

MINISTER MORRISON:

Well a religion has to formally register its objection and that has to be accepted by the government. So it’s a very narrow and that’s an area that hasn’t been subject to any growth, in people claiming that objection, it’s only been the conscientious objection where there’s been a sharp rise and if the religious objection was abused in that way then I’d look to shut that down as well but at the moment that hasn’t been the case and there is a very limited scope for that and of course there’s a medical exemption which is appropriate.

HADLEY:

Obviously. Take me through the benefits they stand to lose now, these people.

MINISTER MORRISON:

The Family Tax Benefit A supplement which is an annual payment of some $726 a year, up to that. Then there’s the Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate and those benefits’ maximum allowance can be as much as $16,000 a year but obviously no-one gets close to that in any one year. Now they’re the really important ones here because if we’re going to fund support for people to put their children in child care which is a good policy to keep people in work and get back to work which is good for them, their families and the economy, then if we’re going to put their children in contact with other children well this is a turnkey requirement.

HADLEY:

How close to this follow revelations on this programme last week that there are ten children in Western Sydney in one school, the Henry Fulton School, with an outbreak of whooping cough. There are 11 children in Henty, in rural New South Wales, and then I get emails from all over Queensland telling me the same thing and what I found out by talking to medical experts, immunisation doesn’t mean you can’t catch it, what it means is you don’t get as severe a dose as you normally would if you didn’t have the vaccination so there were people saying oh hang on, these kids must not have been

vaccinated, no they mostly were vaccinated but they got a less severe dose of whooping cough. I mean so I started to get information from Canberra about the number of outbreaks in 2011 and 2012, and it’s hundreds and hundreds of children.

MINISTER MORRISON:

Yes, well you just don’t take risks with these things and that’s why we’re closing down this loophole. The Prime Minister had made an indication before the last election that this was a path we would go down, we’ve had the Productivity Commission report into Child Care and Early Childhood Learning which recommended this, so this has been under consideration for some time and will come into place, once legislation passes, in January of next year and honestly if we were able to do it sooner than that, we would.

HADLEY:

OK, bipartisan support, the Opposition have said they’ll pass it through the Upper House.

MINISTER MORRISON:

Well Bill Shorten has said he supports it, so we’ll see what happens on the floor of the Parliament. So look, we welcome him saying that, but it’s not about Bill. Bill often thinks things are about Bill, but it’s not about Bill, it’s about the children.

HADLEY:

Speaking of Bill, let’s go to Chris. Now the lamentable Member and former Minister for Immigration, Chris Bowen, and then Treasurer, I mean I would, first of all I thought he was the worst immigration minister since Federation, and then he sort of got the Quinella, he couldn’t be the worst Treasurer since Federation, that is occupied by Wayne Swan by the length of the straight, but by gee, he did run second.

MINISTER MORRISON:

Yes he did.

HADLEY:

Now he’s had this to say, because the front page story of The Telegraph, and I’ve shared that with my listeners before we started talking, is about stopping the boats, which you did as a government, which you did individually as the minister and now you’ve got 24,500 remaining asylum seekers who arrived here under the former Labor government who won’t be processed for another maybe three or four years because of the need for greater security checks. Have a listen to what Mr Bowen has said this morning in relation to this particular matter.

BOWEN:

Well there’s a surprise. You’ve got a Liberal minister, who can’t even cope with the job he’s been given and he’s blaming the Labor party. The government has been in office for 18 months now and they’re still trying to find ways to blame the previous government for their failings and they said it

would be easy, and it’s not proving that easy for the government. Now the government really just needs to front up and take some responsibility here for its own policies.

HADLEY:

Do you think that he goes back to his media minders and says how was that, was that good? I think I’ve confused them.

MINISTER MORRISON:

He’s getting my Muppet award for today with that comment, it really is ridiculous. I mean this is the bloke who had 25,000 people turn up on his watch and the Labor party were the architects, the builders, they never completed the defects period, that’s for sure. They were absolutely atrocious on this issue and we said before the election that this was going to take a long time to fix, to clean up. Yes we have stopped the boats but the long tail of Labor’s failures on border protection Peter Dutton has rightly pointed out. Peter Dutton has picked up the ball on this portfolio extremely well and is following through on everything that we started and when it comes to processing this backlog of some 30,000, we spoke about that many times in Opposition and in government, we are working through that but the issues surrounding the tighter security checks which Peter is looking to apply I think that is to be commended and it is going to take time.

HADLEY:

Now, I am easily confused so that is no surprise to my listeners, however I have got one poll in the Australian telling me one thing and I have got another poll in Fairfax telling me completely opposite. Now I know which poll you believe but it just shows the frailty of polls. I think that is what it shows more than anything else.

MINISTER MORRISON:

It does. Andrew Bolt made that point this morning. These are within the margin of error and that is why you take all these in your stride. One thing you can take out of this I don’t think anyone in the government could tell you that we didn’t have a pretty ordinary start to the year, we did. But Bill Shorten is the one now I think who the pressure is on, the wood is on Bill Shorten, people have had a bit of a look at him as a result of events over the course of this year and they are not liking what they are seeing and I suspect there are many in the Labor party thinking has Bill Shorten peaked? Is this as good as it was ever going to get under Bill Shorten and given the fact that his festival of ideas this year that he has barely come up with one and the only one he has does on a tax that would not cover the interest payments on our debt for more than two months - this is as good as it gets under Bill Shorten and he has been found wanting.

HADLEY:

The thing that is strange if we listen to that Chris Bowen quote and he is not going to accept responsibility for the next generation and the generation after that who are left with the bill and I don’t mean Bill Shorten I mean the bill that we are going to have to pay because of the largess of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd government. Chris Bowen has to understand that the reason we are in debt crisis at the moment is because of the unabashed spending of his government.

MINISTER MORRISON:

That’s right and we warned about that unabashed spending at the time which is when they came to government they had a $20 billion surplus and they had $40 billion in the bank. Now, it is going to be some time before we ever see that again and we are working hard as we can to bring that situation back to reality but we are being opposed by the Labor party. People draw attention to the crossbenchers which is fine but remember if the Labor party was supporting the budget fix we are seeking to achieve that just simply wouldn’t be relevant.

HADLEY:

It makes them lame ducks in other words; the people that are on the crossbenches wouldn’t have any impact whatsoever.

MINISTER MORRISON:

We’d be able to go on with it and - I mean the Labor party aren’t even approving spending changes that they themselves sought to introduce before the last election. So it is a wrecker approach and that is what we have seen from Bill Shorten and people are waking up to that and I think that is what you are reading in some of those polls today.

HADLEY:

Just going back to my original point with you about the immunisation. If there is bipartisan support and we believe obviously there is how long will this become - go through both houses and be enacted?

MINISTER MORRISON:

It should be in place by January of next year and if we can do it sooner than that I’d be happy to do that. I have been talking to my officials about that but it has to pass through the Parliament. The other thing is that the Family Tax Benefit A supplement, that is paid at the end of the financial year so that would come into place at the end of the next financial year and the child care year starts obviously in January/February each year so it is timed around those transitions.

HADLEY:

I hope you are heading south after the interview because I have just been advised the Lane Cove tunnel is shut city bound. I don’t know if it is over a high truck or an accident but I will find out shortly.

MINISTER MORRISON:

We are heading very south to Canberra today, back for more meetings there but we had a good win down south on the weekend. It was good to see you there on Friday night Ray.

HADLEY:

Here we go. Two wins in a row, two wins in a row the Sharks and this is the Minister’s team they accounted for the Roosters the week before 10-2 and then demolished the Newcastle Knights on

Friday night and I must admit some people say gee 10,000 is not a good crowd, had you been there in the rain you would have been congratulating every one of those 10,000 people for coming out of their homes on such a wet, bleak night.

MINISTER MORRISON:

It was very damp but it was great to see the guys coming together and showing the confidence.

HADLEY:

Ok, we will talk next Monday. Thank you.

MINISTER MORRISON:

Thanks a lot Ray.