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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Guilford, WA: 2 October 2018: Indonesia; aged care; a fairer GST deal; Banking Royal Commission



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The Hon. Scott Morrison MP Prime Minister

TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP WITH THE MINISTER FOR SENIOR AUSTRALIANS & AGED CARE, THE HON. KEN WYATT MP.

GUILFORD, WA

TUESDAY 2 OCTOBER 2018

E&OE…

SUBJECTS: Indonesia; Aged Care; a fairer GST deal; Banking Royal Commission.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it’s great to be here at People Who Care with people who care. It’s a tremendous organisation and does a great job, not just in supporting senior Australians here in WA and Perth in particular, but it’s supporting Australians right across the aged spectrum, from homelessness services, right through the many needs that exist, work for the dole groups and so on. So, it’s great to be here Ken in your electorate, you're very familiar with the work that they do.

Before I sort of talk about the issue I’ve come here to talk about today, I would just like to say in relation to Indonesia, we have over 840 people who are confirmed dead in this terrible, shocking disaster that we've seen in Sulawesi. This is a very remote part of the country. I've been in regular contact with the Foreign Minister about this issue. We have several million, potentially, people that will be affected by this crisis. We've got many people who are injured. We've got a lot of people working in a very dangerous situation, not just because of the physical conditions, but obviously the risk of disease and these sorts of things. It's a very, very significant crisis.

The Australian Government has already provided $500,000 of support immediately, through the Indonesian Red Cross and that's to support the most obvious emergency aid needs, tarpaulins, things of that nature. But our ambassador has been working closely with the Indonesian Government to be looking at a second round of support. We're currently working together with them on that now and we'll have more to say about that when some decisions have been made. But that's being done consultatively and cooperatively with the Indonesian Government. Australia has some expertise, it has some resources in particular areas where it can deploy and we're looking to see how best we can fit the need, to ensure we

can do whatever we can to support our Indonesian friends and neighbours in this time of very genuine need.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, is that boots on the ground, not financial aid?

PRIME MINISTER: I'll have more to say once the arrangements are settled. I don't want to get ahead of ourselves here. We're still working through some of those details and once they have been confirmed, then I will be in a position to announce soon.

JOURNALIST: Is that likely to be today? Given the urgency of the situation -

PRIME MINISTER: Well the sort of responses we're going to be making won’t just deal with what is needed right, today, but also over some period of time as well. So I'll leave it until I think those arrangements have been confirmed.

But on a more positive note, I should say it’s great to be here to announce that the Commonwealth Government, our Government is providing $50 million a year for the next two years, $100 million to support the Commonwealth Home Support program. This is a program, that as you can see from the people we've just been meeting outside, enables them to have the choice to stay in their home for longer. It's the entry-level level - if you like - of support for senior Australians. It deals with everything from meals to transport, to domestic help, to help around the house and in the garden and these sorts of things and it means senior Australians have those choices. Now there are many other needs that are necessary to fulfil. Our support for in-home care places, 20,000 announced between the last half-year update and the most recent Budget. The work we're doing to deliver that on the ground, which is the next level of care which enables Australians to stay home for longer. This is about allowing senior Australians to age with dignity, with choice, with independence and to be able to live the life that they want to live; surrounded by their friends, family and community and to stay connected.

People Who Care are an important part of delivering those services here in Hasluck, in Ken’s community, but there are just so many other providers. Well over 800,000 senior Australians benefit from the Commonwealth Home Support program. I know from my own family's case many years ago, when my elderly relatives had support from that program, it does give them choices. So we’re very pleased to make that support available. The decision was taken in the Budget this year for announcement and we're announcing that today. I particularly want to commend Ken on the great work he's done here, in looking across the range of needs that are essential to deliver for senior Australians. Whether it's how they want to continue their education or how they want to continue their work opportunities or how they can remain connected in their community. These quite specific level service needs that are delivered through this program, or indeed the more advanced care needs in the residential aged care sector. Of course you know we've announced we’ll be holding a Royal Commission into that sector. I'll have more on that in the not too distant future as we seek the terms of reference and the Commissioners.

But none of this wouldn't be possible without a strong economy. That’s why we can invest in these services, ensuring also that the State Government here has the support they need. Our GST package, our GST reform, our changes; $4.7 billion extra for Western Australia, but every single state and territory is better off with a more than a billion-dollar a year guarantee, not just out over that next eight years, but into the future and indexed. That's the guarantee that demonstrates that all states and territories are better off under that arrangement.

As I said yesterday, we'll be legislating that when we come back to the parliament in a few weeks’ time. That is a decision of the Australian Parliament, it doesn't need the agreement of the states and territories for that to proceed. There's a meeting happening tomorrow, where I'm sure those details will be discussed. But we appreciate those states that have been working with us and the work has demonstrated once again, as the Productivity Commission showed, all states and territories are better off.

So Ken, tell as more about People Who Care, from someone who I know cares very much.

THE HON KEN WYATT MP, MINISTER FOR SENIOR AUSTRALIANS AND AGED CARE: Thank you very much Prime Minister. What we see is the translation of policy and budgetary commitment at the national level, translate down into the community, where people who live within this community receive the benefits that are derived from our Budget commitments. We see is senior Australians out there this morning who received ramps in their homes, they have railings put in, they have someone who delivers meals to them. If you’re up in Kalamunda, the nuts that fall on their driveways are swept off those driveways to make it safe for them. It’s about social connectedness. It is about having somebody who connects with you at least once or twice a week, provides you with meals, but also checks on you.

Commonwealth programs are there for all senior Australians. Right across Australia I’ve seen outstanding delivery by organisations like People Who Care, who take that little bit of extra time to provide the level of support, to enable people to live at home much longer. It's a great initiative by our Government.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, Ken. Happy to take questions, why don’t we talk about questions about the things I've raised and then if there are other issues, happy to do that.

JOURNALIST: Is it new money Prime Minister? Are we talking new money here?

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah it was, the new money was created in the Budget, so $50 million for two years, $100 million in total. That’s over and above what was already being spent on the program and overall we are spending billions in this area. In aged care in particular we're spending $1 billion extra, every year.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister on aged care, COTA is calling on the Government to provide 30,000 more high-level home care packages over the next financial year. Is that something the Government will consider?

PRIME MINISTER: Well we’ve already provided 20,000 extra in the last 12 months, in the last two Budget updates; the Budget update before that. It's an over 80 per cent increase over the next four years, particularly in the level of higher care places. Now, we know that that need is growing and that demand is increasing and it's an area of priority for the Government. But obviously these things have to be paid for. What we are doing is managing with the other places that we have, while people mightn't be able to get the highest care level place initially, then they might be able to move into a lower level of care package and then graduate to the others. But it is a priority for our Government to increase the number of in-home care places that are available and wherever we can do that in the future, beyond what we've done, then we will.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister just on GST? Two issues, first you’ve got Bill Shorten holding out, that he might not support parts of the package -

PRIME MINISTER: So, the crab walk begins.

JOURNALIST: What do you say to that? You’ve also got the states including your home state of New South Wales raising some concerns about it, what do you say to them?

PRIME MINISTER: Well Mark McGowan and I are on a unity ticket when it comes to the GST changes. But it seems the Labor Party is not on a unity ticket when it comes to this issue.

He said he was and now, when I’ve sent him the legislation, which he received yesterday, Bill Shorten, the crab walk seems to be starting from him, when it comes to the fairer deal on the GST that WA deserves. The package we put together leaves all states and territories better off. Now that is a matter for the Commonwealth Parliament to determine. It's not a matter that will be determined through the Council of Financial Federal Relations or any other state and territory or Commonwealth arrangement. This is a matter directly for the Commonwealth Parliament.

So the only person standing between a fairer deal for GST and Western Australia, is Bill Shorten.

JOURNALIST: Nevertheless, your home said New South Wales seems to have concerns about it?

PRIME MINISTER: No, I’ve spoken to Dom Perrottet many times about this, Dom’s broader point is that New South Wales, like Western Australia, has been a donor state for a long period of time and he's keen to see other states match their reforms and their changes. I think Dom makes some good points about that, but New South Wales hasn't raised concerns about the overall package. They've raised more concerns about other states catching up to their level of economic leadership.

JOURNALIST: Are you saying it can’t be derailed?

PRIME MINISTER: The only person who can derail the better, fairer deal for WA, is Bill Shorten. If Bill Shorten supports the legislation I sent to him yesterday, it is done.

JOURNALIST: But if you can't get it through to the Parliament, what will you do?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, Bill Shorten will have to explain that to the people of WA and I’ll take it to the election.

JOURNALIST: Are you worried about the downturn in house prices when combined with huge household debts? Is that a ticking time bomb for the economy?

PRIME MINISTER: On the housing market, as the Treasurer has explained, we've had a soft landing in the housing market to date and that has been welcome, that it has only been a soft landing. I mean particularly specially in Sydney and Melbourne, house prices were running very hot. I mean Sydney house prices at one time were running at about 18 per cent growth a year. In Perth, you all know that's not been happening here. Adelaide and other parts of the country, the housing market has performed very differently from what it has in Sydney and Melbourne. It was in those markets that was really driving up the increased levels of debt and that's why as a Government, we took the decision and then it was enacted through the actions of the regulator, to constrain interest-only loans and some other changes that were made that basically ensured that the housing market had a soft landing.

What I'm worried about is that if the Labor Party were able to increase the taxes on housing through abolishing negative gearing as we know it, increasing the Capital Gains Tax on housing by 50 per cent, then that's when you would have a serious impact on the housing market, well beyond what we've seen today. For all those hundreds of thousands, millions of Australians actually who own investment properties, even the ones you own, they’ll be impacted by the effect on the housing market and the effect

on housing values - where small businesses effectively have their superannuation in investment properties, locked up in that - Labor's increased taxes on housing will have a very negative impact on the Australian housing market. It will negate the sort of improvements that we’re seeing in other states like Western Australia, as the Western Australian economy rebounds. In the other states, it is a real threat to the savings of mums and dads who have worked hard to get themselves an investment property to ensure that in the future, their finances can be more secure. So that's what worries me about what's happening in the housing market; the prospect of a Labor government will have serious consequences for the savings and the biggest asset that most, if not all Australians own, their home.

JOURNALIST: The newly-named captain of the Australian Rugby League team has been charged with drink driving and speeding. Do you expect more from an Australian captain?

PRIME MINISTER: Sorry, do I … ?

JOURNALIST: Do you expect more from an Australia captain.

PRIME MINISTER: I love my NRL and I’m happy to leave the running of the NRL to the NRL.

JOURNALIST: Yes, but -

PRIME MINISTER: I’ve got lots of views you know, I’m not a big fan of the bunker either in the NRL, but nevertheless, they pick the teams, they make the choices and I don't think it's helpful for a Prime Minister to be engaged in that. I'm sure the NRL will manage these issues appropriately.

JOURNALIST: Petrol prices in Perth are at an all-time high, you mentioned the ACCC yesterday does have the power to take action?

PRIME MINISTER: They do.

JOURNALIST: Do you know why they haven't and will you push them to take action?

PRIME MINISTER: Well they’re an independent authority, the ACCC. They are an independent cop on the beat and because they're independent, that means the Government isn't in a position to direct them in the way that your question asks. So I expect the independent cop on the beat to do their job where there illegal activity occurring. We've given them increased powers and resources to address this and I expect Rod Simms and his team - who I’ve got a lot of respect for - to be out there doing their job on this one.

JOURNALIST: What do you think about Labor’s push to increase the Royal Commission into banks, claiming not enough victims have given evidence? Is this just political?

PRIME MINISTER: I think Bill Shorten is already getting caught out on this. I mean it seems that the only reason Bill Shorten wanted a Royal Commission into the banks, was to play politics with it. I mean he's basically attacking the independence of the Royal Commissioner. I think he’s acting very recklessly in calling into question the actions of the Royal Commissioner. I mean he's an independent Royal Commissioner, let him do his job. I think it's an insult to all staff of the Royal Commission, who have pored over the 9,000 submissions they have received. You can see quite clearly in the interim report that been released by Commissioner Hayne that all of these issues that have been raised in these submissions have been taken up in what they're finding. There have been a number of people who have had the opportunity to appear, but everyone who has made a submission to that inquiry, has had the total respect given to that submission by it being fully considered by the Royal Commissioner.

So you know, Bill Shorten, he’s got to stop playing politics with everything. We have a Royal Commission into the banking and finance industry. Now what you don’t do is go out there and attack the Royal Commissioner's independence and start trying to second-guess him and tell him how he should be doing his job. That's not what I'm doing, I didn't do it as Treasurer.

I initiated this Royal Commission as Treasurer and I want to see it do its job, free from political interference and free from political grandstanding. Bill Shorten needs to respect the Royal Commission and allow it to do its’ job.

What we've been doing while the Royal Commission has been going on, is to ensure we do our job; that is to increase the penalties that are out there for those who do the wrong thing in the banking industry. We've increased the authority for APRA, the banking regulator, to be able to throw banking executives out of the industry. Those laws have already been passed. We've increased the powers for ASIC. We've ensured that we now have a Deputy Commissioner of ASIC, the corporate watchdog, whose job is to prosecute those who do the wrong thing. As you saw in the interim report, that was one of the key issues that was raised by the Royal Commissioner.

So my message to Bill Shorten is stop playing politics with a Royal Commission that is supposed to be independent. Respect the Royal Commissioner and his independence and respect the hard work of the Royal Commission staff who are doing their job. To suggest they have been ignoring the submissions that have been provided to the Royal Commission I think is offensive. I think Bill Shorten should apologise to the staff of the Royal Commission for suggesting they haven't been doing their job properly. Stop the politics, Bill.

Thank you.

[ENDS]

Contacts: Press Office, (02) 6277 7700

The Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Sydney