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Transcript of interview with Ray Hadley: 2GB: 11 October 2016: IMF meetings; US election; social services portfolio; Labor's refusal to back tax relief for Australian small businesses; greyhound racing; S. Kidman & Co.



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The Hon. Scott Morrison MP Treasurer

TRANSCRIPT 2GB RAY HADLEY TUESDAY 11 OCTOBER 2016

E&OE

Subjects: IMF meetings; US election; social services portfolio; Labor’s refusal to back tax relief for Australian small businesses; greyhound racing; S. Kidman & Co

RAY HADLEY: Treasurer good morning to you.

TREASURER: G’day Ray.

HADLEY: Nice to have you back. Did you have a good trip?

TREASURER: Well, it was a very busy week both in Washington and New York. It was the meeting of all the various Finance Ministers from the various countries. I had a chance to meet with the head of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen as well as all many of the other central bankers to get a good update on what was happening over there. Back to work here, now and we have got a full agenda.

HADLEY: Away from domestic issues, but you’ve just been there so it is important to ask you, can you imagine an Australian politician surviving what Donald Trump is dealing with in the US at the moment. I haven’t made much comment about it because it doesn’t impact on us directly but it looks like a race to the bottom with the things being revealed by each other or their spouses and people surrounding them.

TREASURER: Well, with those remarks I think he is certainly winning that race to the bottom. It is a pretty unedifying contest over there I would have to say more generally. But those comments, as the Prime Minister said were loathsome and they can’t be dismissed by locker room talk and that sort of thing. That is not welcome in the locker room or any room and it is very disappointing and you would hope for a better quality of debate. I don’t hear those sorts of things said around this place and nor should they be.

HADLEY: Given you are just back from there do you think the feeling is he is almost unelectable now or not?

TREASURER: On one of the headlines I think I saw and I can’t remember whether it was there or here, ‘nine lives’ which certainly seem to be up on those sorts of comments. I saw the Vice Presidential debate over there and Governor Pence was finding it, I think, pretty difficult to explain a lot of those things. Honestly when it comes to Australia and what are the impacts of the election on Australia what is really important not just in the United States but elsewhere is that we are trading economy. Our jobs and our economic future depends on our ability to trade with other countries, global trade has been significantly reduced over the last ten years. You have the sentiment where America is trying to, they are walking away from the TPP potentially and we are hopeful for a different result there but that is what will have an impact on Australian jobs, is keeping those markets open for Australian products because that is what Australians jobs depend on.

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HADLEY: What happens if the bizarre happens and he is elected and then you have to deal with him as a government? What happens then?

TREASURER: The good thing about the Australia-US alliance is that it runs very deep and right across government institutionally. I would absolutely expect whoever is elected in the United States we will continue to have a very strong and special relationship. The professional nature of politics would mean that people would just get on with it. The thing that would concern us both frankly was the rhetoric from both campaigns.

RAY HADLEY: Yeah, I know.

TREASURER: They are both saying that when it comes to trade that they want to retreat and that wouldn’t be good news not only for the Australian economy but other trading economies and so when I was over there this week it was a case I was making all week, that it is important that big economies like the US and for that matter Europe and the UK, China and so on remain open to Australian products and services.

HADLEY: Now, there is a graph in the Telegraph and in News Limited papers today showing the battle by successive governments federally to get the welfare bill under control, you and I have spoken about this week after week after week and I know Christian Porter is wading his way through it, they can’t get it below 20 per cent and we are talking about not just your government but the previous government as well. I keep making the point, because we get emails saying, ‘you want to kick disabled people off,’ no I don’t. I want them to have more money and the only way they get more money is get the bludgers off it.

TREASURER: That is exactly right. I think Australians do support a safety net for people who really need it and there are many people in this country who do really need it. There are others who exploit it and abuse it. It is important that we tighten up on the eligibility for these payments to ensure that those who really need it can get a better go and those who can and should be encouraged to stand on their own two feet do just that. Now, it has proved very difficult for successive governments. We have over $6 billion specifically in social services savings in the Parliament right now. We have had a good response from Pauline Hanson on those issues, as we have from Senators Leyonhjelm and Day. There is a big test for Nick Xenophon’s team on those savings. The Labor Party as usual, and the Greens they just want to keep the payments rolling out the door. They never want to make savings on this stuff ever. It is concerning that in today’s generation there is… getting a transfer payment from the government is what many Australians now have as part of their income.

HADLEY: See, that’s a mindset Treasurer.

TREASURER: Yes.

HADLEY: That’s a mindset and it’s what I have raved on about here for 25 years plus. Sixteen years on this network. In 1971 and ‘72 you had to be over the age of 21 and basically married to get welfare. That changed under the Whitlam years. So, now as a 62 year old I am looking at people I knew then whose children are on welfare, their grandchildren are on welfare, so we have got two generations, or three generations of Australians who think the mindset is that is how we earn our living.

TREASURER: Well, the best form of welfare is a job and that is what our policies are directed towards achieving. It is important that we keep pursuing that. If you can’t crack this everyone has to pay higher taxes. We learnt over night that the Labor Party is not going to support the small business tax cuts. So, that is tax cuts for businesses with between $2 million and $10 million in turnover. They employ on average around 22 people. There are some 100,000 of these businesses and we took to

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the election a plan that would see them pay less tax, get access to investment allowances and instant asset write offs and depreciation which would help them reinvest their profits back into their business and support the jobs in those businesses. Now Labor are saying today, in a dissenting report released last night, that they’re not going to support that. I understand their view about tax cuts for large corporates, but they’re going to block it for those small companies. The reason they’re going to do that, is because they don’t want to make any changes to these savings in welfare. So they’d rather keep that rolling out the door, and they’re going to make small businesses pay for it, in higher taxes.

HADLEY: Ok a few quick ones to get through. Mike Baird in the next three hours will announce a change in the greyhound racing ban, something you’ve been talking to me about for quite some time. I think most people in government from that conservative side of politics would be happy that he’s going to reverse his earlier decision along with Troy Grant.

TREASURER: I’ll leave those issues to Mike, I don’t know what specifically he’s going to propose. There’s obviously been a lot of feedback on this all around the state. Even in role as Treasurer people raise it with me. I don’t know much about that sector Ray, you know a lot about it. I’ve heard what you’ve had to say, let’s see what he says later today, and that that is a good outcome for everybody, and I think what’s important is that we make decisions in politics and sometimes we’ll change those down the track. I think that requires some political courage to do that, to admit to going down a particular road and to change direction, on the basis of listening to people. If that’s what the government is going later today, then I think they deserve credit for doing that.

HADLEY: Labor seems certain not to back the plebiscite, is that the end of the debate in this current parliament?

TREASURER: That means they’re denying Australians the opportunity to have their say on this issue. We took it to the election, we won that election, and Labor are being very, very bloody minded about this. I think that’s very disappointing, but that was our policy.

HADLEY: A few misguided people were talking to me about it yesterday and said, oh well Mr Baird is going to change his mind about greyhounds, why can’t the Government change its mind about a plebiscite as opposed to a parliamentary vote. It’s very simple - the Labor party went to that election, with a platform of the parliamentarians to decide, you went to the election, now the Government, with a plebiscite. It’s a core promise I would think.

TREASURER: Well it is. That’s why we’ve pursued it. The Prime Minister has pursued it enthusiastically, he introduced the bill into the parliament. This is what we’re seeing from Labor in this parliament, their basically just trying to play wrecker every day. I don’t think the Australian people want to see that. I think they want to see the opposition working with the Government to resolve issues. We had the one example of the omnibus bill on savings that we were able to get through. I hope that doesn’t prove to be the exception to the rule, because the rule at the moment is Bill Shorten playing politics with everything, absolutely everything, rather than just getting on and supporting practical changes.

HADLEY: Did you punch the air when you heard that Gina Rinehart wants to buy the Kidman cattle properties?

TREASURER: I am pleased that an Australian has come forward. I’m very pleased.

HADLEY: It takes the pressure off you.

TREASURER: Good on her, good on her for (inaudible).

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HADLEY: Albeit third of it will be owned by the Chinese. But two thirds…

TREASURER: That will be subject to approval.

HADLEY: Of course it will be Treasurer, but I can just imagine you sitting there thinking on your flight back, rubbing your forehead and saying oh god what do I have to deal with now. Bloody Kidman again. What am I going to do? What happens if it’s South Americans or it’s South Africans, and all of a sudden, over there on the white horse coming over the hill, is the form of Gina Rinehart. Saving your bacon.

TREASURER: The good news is that there is Australians with means who want to invest in Australia’s agricultural sector. Now, the argument is, when I knocked back the Kidman sale, and remember the Labor Party were going to approve the Kidman sale to the Chinese. That’s what they said before the election and they attacked me for actually knocking it back. I was confident that if you make the right decisions on that then another purchaser will come forward if it’s a good product that’s on offer and it was a good product that’s on offer, and we’ve seen that happen. That now going through the processes, I hope that others will follow a similar course of investing in Australian agriculture. Let’s remind ourselves that less than one half of one per cent of all Australia’s agricultural land is owned by Chinese. Only 13 per cent or thereabouts is owned by foreigners as well, so they’re the actual statistics. These companies investing in Australian agriculture improves those operations. It creates jobs whether it’s in Tasmania or Western Australia or anywhere else. Whether it’s Australians or Australians’ super funds or whoever - the Future Fund took out a big stake in the Port of Melbourne sale recently. That’s great. Good to see.

HADLEY: Ok we’ll talk next week, thanks for your time.

TREASURER: Thanks Ray.

[ENDS]

Further information: Julian Leembruggen 0400 813 253, Kate Williams 0429 584 675